Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

This epic ride starts in the charming Italian town of Cuneo, before climbing into France in search of some of the most iconic climbs in cycling history. The first big challenge is the Col de la Bonnette, at 2802m the highest col in Europe and a favourite of Robert Millar. From here on the legendary climbs come in quick succession as we make our way across the spectacular cols of Vars, Izoard, Galibier and Croix de Fer. We finish the route by tackling the famous 21 hairpins bends to Alpe d’Huez, a memorable finish to a memorable trip!

Day 1 : Start in Cuneo in the Italian Alps

Start in Cuneo in the Italian Alps. Cuneo is a provincial capital in western Italy whose old town centre dates from the 12th Century when it was a fortified town. The Renaissance style arcaded main street is lined with shops and cafe's giving it an elegant appearance. Cuneo was made famous in the cycling world in 1949 when the legendary Fausto Coppi dominated the stage there to win the Giro d'Italia. More recently it was a start town for the Tour de France stage to Jausiers in 2008. In the evening there will be a welcome meeting and a chance to check bikes and make any final adjustments.

Day 2 : Ride from Cuneo to Saint Etienne de Tinee across the Col de la Lamborde

In the morning we enjoy a nice gentle warm up cycling along the valley Stura to the village of Pratolungo. From here we start the hors category climb of the Col de la Lombarde (21.3 km, avg. 6.8%), located on the French/Italian border at 2351m. The climb was last used during stage 16 of the 2008 Tour. From here we are rewarded with a long downhill to the ski resort of Isola 2000 where we spend the night.

Day 3 : Ride to Barcelonnette over the Col de la Lamborde

After breakfast we descend to Isola (862 m) where we reach the Tinee Valley. The valley is very narrow and typically alpine, with superb views and some attractive waterfalls. A relatively gentle climb brings us to Saint Etienne from where we tackle the infamous Col de la Bonnette (26km, avg. 6.5%), the highest col in Europe (2802 m). This climb has only been used a few times during the Tour (in 1962, 1964, 1993 and 2008) but really is one of the highlights of the trip. After catching our breath we descend to Barcelonnette, where there will be the option to climb to either Super Sauze or Praloup.

Day 4 : Climb the Col de Vars en route to Guillestre

Todays ride is a little shorter but still very challenging! In the morning we ride up to Jausiers and then climb the beautiful hors category Col de Vars, climbed 20 times since 1947 in the Tour de France. (2108m, 15km, avg. 5.5%). Here we enter the spectacular Hautes Alpes and enjoy some great mountain views on the ride down to Guillestre on the border of the Queyras Regional Park. If you'd like to do a few more miles then in the afternoon there's the option of a nice steady loop to Embrun or the more challenging climb to the ski resort of Risoul.

Day 5 : Ride to Briancon across the Col d'Izoard

The hors category Col d'Izoard (2360m) is a unique place to cycle and one of the greatest cols of the French Alps (32km, avg. 4.5%). The Tour organisers clearly agree as it has been included 23 times in the race since 1947! The scenery here is beautiful, from the sandy coloured eroded cliffs above the 'Casse Deserte' near the summit to the green wooded mountainsides above Briancon where we stay. From Briancon you have the option to continue on a relatively flat ride along the Claree valley, or to climb the Montgenevre pass on the Italian border.

Day 6 : Climb the famous Col du Galibier before descending to Saint Jean de Maurienne

This morning the 'Giant of the Alps' awaits us, namely the hors category Col du Galibier (2645m). It is a mammoth 37km of climbing from Briancoon, but it is the final 21km where the effort really kicks in at an average gradient of 6%. In 2011 the summit saw a solo stage win for Andy Schleck, but the real drama was a little further down the mountain as Thomas Voeckler heroically retained the yellow jersey with a mere 15 seconds to spare. A monument in homage to Henri Desgranges, the founder of the Tour, sits at the top of the Galibier. A seemingly endless descent brings us to Valloire, from where we cycle down the Maurienne valley to Saint Jean de Maurienne. It is possible to extend the ride with a nice circular ride to Bonvillard (700m climb).

Day 7 : Climb the Col de la Croix de Fer and the legendary Alpe d'Huez

For our final days ride, two superb challenges are on the menu! We warm up on the hors category Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m, 30km, avg. 5%). This is a lovely peaceful climb that has featured 15 times in the Tour since 1947. But no cycling trip to the Alps is complete without tackling the legendary 21 hairpins bends on the iconic climb of Alpe d'Huez (1845m, 14km, avg. 8%). From Bourg d'Oisans the road immediately ramps up with some of the steepest sections and is often the scene for the first attacks. 'The Alpe' has been climbed 29 times in the Tour since 1952 and the names of many of the winners are marked on plaques on the hairpins. The late Marco Pantani's record of 37 minutes 35 seconds in 1997 is quite humbling! Tonight we will celebrate our efforts in Bourg d'Oisans.

Day 8 : End Alpe d'Huez

Spend the morning relaxing in Alpe-d'Huez and packing up your bike. End Alpe d'Huez.

  • All breakfasts

  • All accommodation (see below)

  • All transport and listed activities

  • Tour leader throughout


Any airfare, train fare, travel insurance, airport taxes & visa. Any meals not mentioned in the itinerary. All items of personal nature & tips. Optional arrival and departure transfers or transfer costs to the starting point of the vacation. Entrance fees to attractions not specified in the itinerary. Extra nights at the beginning or the end of the trip. Any natural calamity which is beyond the control of the tour operator. Anything not mentioned in "Package Includes". Rooms are subject to availability. Government Service Tax 9%. Any Increase in the rate of exchange leading to an increase in land arrangements and high season surcharge if any, will have to be borne by the client. Standard terms & conditions apply.


Prices are per person on twin share basis. Travel Insurance covering medical and evacuation expenses is mandatory for all travellers. Package valid till 9th September 2018. Any Increase in the rate of exchange leading to an increase in land arrangements and high season surcharge if any, will have to be borne by the client. Standard terms and conditions apply.