Alpine Classic Cols :: Itinerary
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 03:35
Click on the col name to see the gradient profile. These have been reproduced with the kind permission of CyclingCols.com. Please vist their website for the profiles of most of the cols in Europe!
Day 0: Transfer Day
Today is all about getting to le Bourg D'Oisans. We offer Transfers from Geneva airport, but is is also very easy to get to the start by train and bus or even driving from the UK. Please see the Travel / trasfers section for full details.
Fly to Geneva. Transfer 2 hrs 30 mins to le Bourg D'Oisans at the base of L'Alpe D'Huez. There will be time to assemble your bikes before dinner at the hotel. Those arriving independently should aim to arrive at the hotel by 1800.
Day 1: Day ride from Bourg D'Oisans
The Alpe D'Huez (1845m) is a climb that has haunted cyclists since it was first included in the TDF in 1952 when Fausto Coppi claimed victory. It has since been used over 25 times and is the grand finale of 'La Marmotte' (the cyclosportive). Surprisingly, it is actually one of the easier climbs on 'our tour' but with a relentless 21 hairpin bends, it is likely to be a highlight. We are staying in the same hotel as last night, so will have the opportunity of taking it easy, by 'just' doing the climb and returning the same way or it can be turned into a nice loop over the Col de la Sarenne (1999m). For those not content with the days achievement then the ski station of Les Deux-Alpes (1645m) would seem a fitting extra.
Easier Route: L'Alpe-d'Huez - [30km, 1130m ascent]
Classic Route: L'Alpe-d'Huez + Col de la Sarenne - [50km, 1420m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: L'Alpe-d'Huez + Col de la Sarenne + Les Deux Alpes [70km, 2250m ascent]
Day 2: Bourg D'Oisans to St Jean de Maurienne
Continuing on circuit of 'La Marmotte' today we take on la Croix-de-Fer (2067m). The climb is officially 31km long, but you will be pleased to hear that there are two timely placed, (but far too short!) downhill sections. The gradients are generally kind but there are a few really nasty sections - however the scenery is varied and stunning. From the Col we descend down into St Jean de Maurienne where we stay the night. For those wanting a bit more, the 2012 TDF Stage ending of La Toussuire (1705m) beckons.
Classic Route: Col de la Crox de Fer [68km, 1550m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: Col de la Crox de Fer + La Toussuire [94km, 2410m ascent]
Day 3: St Jean de Maurienne 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 gradients hovering around 8 and 9% for most of the 19km! It was first included in the TDF back in 1969 and has been used a staggering 23 time since - through this history it has become known as a make or break climb! Once over the other side we free wheel down to Albertville; home to the 2006 winter Olympics. Today's optional extra has nothing to do with the TDF, but has a good name - The Col des Cyclotouristes (1330m). To go with the theme of the day, it is short and sharp, but your efforts are rewarded with stunning views down to the town of Albertville, way below in the valley.
Classic Route: Col de la Madeleine [73km, 1530m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: Col de la Madeleine = Col des Cyclotouristes [99km with 2512m ascent]
Day 4: Albertville to Seez
This part of the Savoie has been described as 'a lost paradise with lush pastures, pretty villages and few drivers' - perfect for a good day out on the bike! We start out by following the River Doron to the beautiful market town of Beaufort. From here we take the 'mountain hugging' road which climbs up to the Col du Pre (1740m). The road is no more than a tarmacked farm track and is barely wide enough for our support van (should I mention the steep hairpins?). From here we descend to the Barrage de Roseland and enjoy a short respite as we cycle around the shores of the beautiful reservoir. It does not take a cartographer to notice the sneeky short cut up to to the lake (missing out the Col du Pre) but from here the is no choice but to take on the stunning Cormet de Roseland (1967m). Your effort is rewarded by views over towards Italy and the chance to taste some of the world renowned cheese (Beaufort) that is produced in the area! From here we descend into Bourg-St Maurice, and then onto the town of Seez. Those wanting a bit extra could make their way up to the Italian border and the Legendary Col de Petit St Bernard (2188m) - a climb that has nothing 'petit' about it!
Easier Route: Courmet de Roselend [60km, 1620m ascent]
Classic Route: Col du Pre + Courmet de Roselend [78km, 1800m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: Col du Pre + Courmet de Roselend + Col de Petit St Bernard [136km, 3130m ascent]
Day 5: Seez to St Jean de Maurienne
With 50km of uphill the only word to describe the Col d'Iseran (2764m) is 'savage'. The climb starts just outside Bourg St Maurice and just keeps on going (up). The first part of the climb up to Val D'Isere is on a fairly busy road, but the cars soon give way to cows and the your efforts are rewarded with some big views. After about 2400m the lack of oxygen starts to play tricks on the mind, but the road just keeps on going all the way up to 2764m, making it the 2nd highest road in Europe! What goes up must come down eventually and the descent is truly magnificent. For those who feel that freewheeling for 53km is cheating, then the cafe on the top of the Col du Mont Cenis (2083m) is worth a detour from Lanselbourg. Tonight we head back to St Jean de Maurienne.
Classic Route: Col d'Iseran [129km, 1965m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: Col d'Iseran + Col du Mont Cenis [149km, 2649m ascent]
Day 6:St Jean de Maurienne to Bourg D'Oisans
The Col du Galibier (2646m) was first included in the TDF back in 1911, the same year that this amazing 'military road' was finished. French cyclists call it the 'giant of the Northern Alps' and today we find out why! The climb starts with a fairly steady 16km over the Col du Telegraphe (1568m) after which we are rewarded with a short descent to the town of Valloire. From here it is straight into the 'real climb' - 22km of astonishingly beautiful cycling! There is no doubt that we have done the climb from the hardest side, but the descent over the Col Du Lautaret and down to Le Bourg-d'Oisans is still a lot of fun - a fitting finale to our week. Those with any energy left could head back up the Alpe D'Huez (to see if a week in the saddle had made you 'fit' or 'fit for the knackers yard').
Classic Route: Col du Telegraphe + Col du Galibier [81km, 2092m ascent]
Classic Cols Challenge: Col du Telegraphe + Col du Galibier + L'Alpe D'Huez [Total: 111km, 2922m ascent]
Day 7: Transfer Day
All good things have to come to an end. In the morning we transfer back to Geneva full of happy memories of what has been an amazing week of cycling.