This road cycling itinerary has been carefully crafted so you can cycle the most scenic and challenging cols and stage endings that the Savoie Alps have to offer. Our tantalising circular route takes in all the classic Tour de France climbs: Cormet de Roselend, lIseran, Tlgraphe, Col du Galibier, Alpe dHuez, Croix-de-Fer and la Madeleine. Our Classic route starts as gently as the Alps allow, gradually cranking up the daily altitude gain from 1200 to 2100m during the week. Each day there are optional extras increasing the possible daily ascent to over 2600m, thus making this holiday suitable for those looking to really push themselves and do the Classic Cols Challenge. It is ideal for mixed ability groups or couples.
This week is a real escape and riding on the quiet roads through the dramatic mountain scenery of the Alps with their far-reaching views is a joy, not to mention the sense of achievement as you summit these climbs.
If you like this holiday, you may also like to check out our Classic Cols of the Southern Alps itinerary.
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Day 0: Travel Out
Included transfers from Geneva airport to Albertville (1hr 30). Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes. Meet your guides and have a welcome briefing and great dinner.
Day 1: Albertville to Bourg-Saint-Maurice
You will love this lost paradise with its lush pastures and quiet roads. Follow the river Doron to the beautiful market town of Beaufort for a coffee and cake, before the road changes tempo and you climb up through the forest to the stunning Lac de Roselend and a well-positioned restaurant. The final 7km of the Cormet de Roselend (1967m) climb is a delight. From here you descend to Bourg-St Maurice and our hotel. Those left still wanting can take on the legendary Col de Petit St Bernard (2188m) a climb with nothing petit about it! Classic route: Cormet de Roselend [61km, 1650m ascent]
Challenge route: Cormet de Roselend + Col de Petit St Bernard [123km, 3000m ascent]
Day 2: Bourg-Saint-Mauricec to Lanslevillard
The savage climb up the Col dIseran (2764m), the 2nd highest road in Europe, starts just outside Bourg St Maurice and keeps on going up (for about 50km!). Initially, you are on a fairly busy road but the cars soon give way to marmots and you can enjoy the massive views. What goes up must come down and the 30km descent down to Lanslevillard is truly magnificent and well deserved. Some of you may feel the need to visit the caf on the top of Col du Mont-Cenis (2083m) at the end of the day and if you feel that doing over 3000m of ascent is essential, then making a detour up to the stage ending of Tignes / Val Claret (2007m) will no doubt be tempting. Tonight we stay in the ski resort of Lanslevillard. Classic route: Col dIseran [79km, 1995m ascent]
Challenge route: Tignes + Col dIseran + Col du Mont-Cenis [113km, 3000m ascent]
Day 3: Lanslevillard to La Grave
Today you find out why French cyclists call the Col du Galibier, the Giant of the Northern Alps! Climb steadily over the Col du Tlgraphe (1568m) followed by a short descent to the town of Valloire for a snack. Then the real climb 22km of astonishingly beautiful cycling! Rather pleasingly, its down for the rest of the day to the charming resort of La Grave. As for extras: the first, early in the day, is up to the ski resort of Valmeinier (1800m) and the second takes you back up the Col du Galibier (2646m) from the south well, it is the challenge route after all! Classic route: Tlgraphe + Galibier [98km, 2090m ascent]
Challenge route: Valmeinier + Tlgraphe + Galibier north & south [total: 130km, 3260m ascent]
Day 4: La Grave to L'Alpe d'Huez
The Alpe dHuez (1845m) has been used over 25 times in the TdF since 1952 and is the grand finale of La Marmotte (the cyclosportive). Despite 21 relentless hairpin bends, it is actually one of the easier climbs on your tour, so you should be done and dusted by lunchtime. To follow, an afternoon soaking up the sunshine from the balcony of the hotel or a bit of retail therapy in the many bike kit shops in town. If relaxing does not come naturally then the optional extra 27km climb to La Brarde (1713m) in the heart of the crins National Park in the morning or meandering along to the picturesque Col de Sarenne (1999m) at the end of the day are both good options. Classic route: lAlpe dHuez [42km, 1125m ascent]
Challenge route: La Brarde + LAlpe dHuez + Sarenne [114km, 2545m ascent]
Day 5: L'Alpe d'Huez to St Jean de Maurienne
Descend first thing, traversing down the Oisans valley, before taking on la Croix-de-Fer (2067m). Gradients are generally kind, except for a few really mean sections! However, there is a great caf halfway up! From the Col, you descend down into St Jean de Maurienne. As always, there are options for those wanting more. Firstly, a detour up to the remote and beautiful Col du Mollard (1630m). The second is the much-feared TdF stage ending of La Toussuire (1705m)! Classic route: Col de la Croix de Fer [75km, 1550m ascent]
Challenge route: Col de la Croix de Fer + Mollard + La Toussuire [117km, 3100m ascent]
Day 6: St Jean to Albertville
It may not be the longest or the highest but the Col de la Madeleine (2000m) is a cheekily steep climb, with the average gradient hovering around 8 or 9% for most of the 19km! The Col itself is a fitting finale to our trip with an amazing view of Mt Blanc to the north and the climbs you have conquered to the south. Linger as long as possible, as once over the other side you free-wheel down to Albertville, where it all began 6 (great) days ago. If you have time, it is worth wandering to the fortified town overlooking the hotel.
Todays optional extra was a 2015 Tour classic, thanks to its hairpin bends: the Lacets de Montvernier. It leads you on to the Col du Chaussy (1533m) and then neatly back to the Classic route. Classic route: Col de la Madeleine [74km, 1550m ascent]
Challenge route: Lacets + Chaussy + Col de la Madeleine [87km with 2200m ascent]
Day 7: Travel Back
We offer included transfers from Albertville to Geneva airport. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
- Climb the legendary Tour de France Alpine cols: Iseran, Tlgraphe, Galibier, Alpe dHuez and the famous Lacets de Montvernier
- Flexible itinerary to suit mixed ability groups with optional extras for those looking for a challenge
- Optional Challenge route: over 670km and 17000m ascent
- Comfortable and friendly 2 and 3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
- Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be