TDF 3 Stage Challenge & Ariegeoise Cyclosportive
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 12:13
"Join us in the Pyrenees for a mad 6 days encompassing the 3 of 2012's TDF Pyrenean stages, possibly followed by, to finish off (or finish you off!), the much loved and rather hilly Ariegeoise Cyclosportive"
Not just content with giving you the 10,450m of ascent that the TDF pro's are taking on in the Pyrenees in July 2012, we thought for our 2nd departure of the trip, - Why not team it up with the Ariegeoise Cylosportive to add just another 3430m of climbing in your week?! After 3 days of serious 'acclimitisation' on the 3 Stages challenge, you will be well adjusted to the mountain climbing and can give it your all for the Ariegeoise, riding the race like you have never ridden a cyclosportive before!!
As ever, all 3 Pyrenean stages are epic rides in their own rights, keeping to fairly quiet roads through some stunning scenery and including some infamous cols. This challenge gives you the opportunity to get as close as you can to the experience of the pro's and see what it is like to ride these mountain stages day after day.
Have a look at our trip itinerary for more details of the daily challenges: Day 1 gives you a 'warm up' of sorts as it is supposed 'flat stage' (only 1500m ascent), but it is still a significant 180kms so not just your average Sunday club ride! The next day, and of particular interest, is Stage 16 from Pau to Bagneres de Luchon, which is frankly just rude! It takes on the stunning Aubisque, the Soulor (a mere pimple compared to the others), the mighty Tourmalet, the tranquill Aspin, AND the scenic Peyresourde. I'm tired just thinking about it! The third day of the challenge from Bagneres de Luchon to Peyragudes (and back to Luchon) is going to make you 'dig deep' after the efforts of the day before, as you ride a fabulous 172km taking on the beautiful Col de Mente, Port de Bales and Col de Peyresourde en route to give you over 3600m of climbing.
We know this is a hard trip, and our role as ever, is to support you on the road as much as possible so that all you need to do is focus on keeping those pedals turning. Thats why we have 2 vans on the road and our experienced Marmot tours staff to help you achieve your goal.
This is a unique and epic challenge that can be taken on and cycled as a target in itself (I was going to say as a 'holiday' but I do have the Trades Description Act to consider...) or could be considered as training for other events; particularly this years Etape route from Pau - Bagneres which you will of course be doing on Day 3 of the trip.
The Ariegeoise Event (a very good alternative to the Etape de Tour!)
Cyclosportives have only started to become popular in the UK in the past 5 years, in France they have been around for the past 30! The Etape du Tour and the Marmotte may have caught the imagination of the British, but there are hundreds of other events happening every weekend throughout the mountainous regions of France.
The Ariegeoise is one of the most loved of these events attracting about 4000 starters over the 3 race distances. Its popularity is endorsed by the number of distinctive Ariegeoise Jerseys which can be spotted being proudly warn in all corners of France thought the year! The event has also been credited by the prestigious UCI (International Cycling Union) as one of the top 6 bike races in the world. We are particularly fond of it as it Marmot Tours is based in Ariege, so it is our local cyclosportive!
The Ariegeoise cyclospotive is exceptionally well orgainised and with the start and finish near to each other, it has none of the logistical issues associated with some of the other events. Along the route ther are numerous refreshment / food stands. There are motorcycles offering mechanical support, so all you have to worry about is turning the pedals. There is even a sit down meal with wine at the end - how very french!
Naturally the people at the front take it very seriously, but most enjoy the event for what it is - a celebration of cycling!! Every year there are 3 distances, with the hardest normally accumulating over 3500m of ascent. Although the roads are not 'closed' traffic is forcefully discouraged from using the roads while cyclist are using them.
The 2012 Ariegeoise route has already been published so you can see what you will be letting yourself in for have a look at our itinerary. It is looking to be a great one, starting from Tarascon as usual, and heading up towards Foix before turning East and taking on the not insignificant Col de Lauze (948m) followed shortly after by the col de Montsegur (1059m). The infamous Chateau de Montsegur - last stand of the Cathars, will be perched up above you on its rocky pog as a reminder of the history that this region has seen. The route then undulates continuously for the next 100kms, (which can be pretty fatiguing) before WHAM, it gives you the nasty sting in the tail that is the 16km HC climb of Plateau de Beille for the finish...ouch!!!
Sounds fabulous doesn't it?!
Below is the profile for the 2012 Ariegeoise (longest route choice in the cyclosportive)
For more details on the course, do have a look at the very good website for the Ariegeoise cyclosportive
2012 Holiday Dates and Prices
Monday 25th June - Friday 29th June OR with the Ariegeoise included, to Sunday 1st July
Costs: 3 Stage Challenge only: £700 (twin share basis) starting at Toulouse Airport. Single Supplement £150 (to be arranged on booking. This supplement only applies if you are booking alone and would like to guarentee your own room for the holiday. If you are happy to share with someone of the same gender then there is no need to pay this supplement).
3 Stage Challenge and Ariegeoise Cyclosportive £850 (twin share basis) starting at Toulouse Airport. Single supplement: £200 [To be arranged on booking. This supplement only applies if you are booking alone and would like to guarantee your own room for the holiday. If you are happy to share with someone of the same gender then there is no need to pay this supplement.]
Flights are not included but can be picked up very cheaply if booked in advance. Allow about £100 for drinks which are not included. There are no other local payments or hidden costs. Please note that we offer a 5% discount if you book more than 3 months before the departure date. We also offer group and loyalty discounts.
If your currency isn't GBP £, then you may find the Caxton FX currency calculator useful.
This price includes:
Airport transfers (at specified times). 6 nights 2* hotel accommodation . 6 evening meals with table wine, 6 substantial breakfasts.
During the 3 stage challenge: 3 days supported road biking. Detailed route notes, with colour maps and altitude profiles. GPS notes. Vehicle support from 2 vehicles. Medical and mechanical support. Services of 2 English (French speaking) tour leaders during the trip. Cycling snacks and fruit during the ride.
During the Ariegeoise Event: Entrance to cyclosportive, Transfers to / from the start / end of the event. 'Ariegeoise' cycling jersey. Lunch at the end of the event. Route notes / support vehicle for the warm up day. Services of a tour leader throughout.
NB. There will also be included a 'Marmot-tours' cycling top as an introductory offer for NEW Marmot Tours clients.
Medical Certificate for Ariegeoise Cyclosportive: You will need to bring a medical certificate with you, signed by a GP (less then 30 days before the event), to say that you are in suitable health to take part in the event - we can provide you with a template for your GP to sign. This is standard practice for all sporting events in France.
Short of Time?
If you don't have the work or home leave left to take on both the 3 Stages and the Ariegeoise Cyclosportive, then you can just join us for the 3 Stage Challenge, and we can get you back to Toulouse airport on Friday morning for flights home. As mentioned above, the 3 Stage Challenge on its own is £700 with a single supplement of £150. See our travel page for details of transfer times back to Toulouse on Fri am.