King and Queen of the Mountains - No Sweat


Holiday Overview

A week of cycling the classic Tour de France cols with the assistance of an E-bike. No it's not cheating - it just means you can ride double the distance in half the time - do more and see more!

On this trip you can become the King or Queen of the Mountains and not just any old mountains, the Alps. Yes you can achieve this grand Strava title without breaking a sweat - well maybe a little perspiration just for the look! The secret? An E-bike! Of course you can do this trip on a classic roadie but.... you choose!

Duncan Craig from the Sunday Times tested out the trip. Here's what he thought about riding the Tour de France cols on an e-bike! You can also have a look at the little video he made for the Sunday Times website.

Cycle the famous 21 hairpin bends of Alpe D'Huez, explore the mythical moonscape of the Col D'Izoard, discover one of Chris Froome's favourite cols, the col du Noyer, and pitch yourself against his time trial route around the Serre Poncon lake. Will you be able to beat his time on an E-bike? There will also be the option of trying Mont Colombis, the toughest climb in France!

Road cycling in the Alps is a must for any keen cyclist and most people train for years before attempting the big alpine climbs like Alpe D'Huez, Col D'Izoard, Col du Noyer and the other Tour de France favourites. With the E-bike, this becomes much more accessible to recreational cyclists. For experienced endurance cyclists, the E-bike means you can go on for even longer or do even steeper climbs than you are used to.

E-bikes are still a relatively new phenomenon and sometimes a little misunderstood. They are not motorbikes, you need to pedal, and it is entirely up to you how much extra oomph you give yourself from the battery. To do a big mountain col you will still need a reasonable level of fitness with an E-bike (be a regular dog walker or gym goer) - it is not cheating!

This trip will take you over some of the mythical Tour de France cols with the option of adding extra sections on if you wish. You have vehicle support with you at all times guiding the way and there to carry your snacks, spare clothing and tool kits and to pick you up if you have had enough. There's no excuse not to give it a go!!

If you like the idea of e-biking the Alps but would prefer a fully tailor made itinerary, then have a look at our flexible e-bike the Alps holiday!


Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival

We'll pick you up from Gap train station and take you up to your accommodation. We'll arrange the best time to collect you to coincide with everyone's arrival times which generally ends up being at the end of the afternoon. If you arrive early we can arrange for a place to leave your luggage and you can explore Gap on foot - there is a great market on Saturday mornings.

Once we get to the Grange des Ecrins, we'll have a welcome drink, go through your itinerary and answer any questions!

Day 2 - Col du Noyer 1664m

Distance: 62km with 1394m of ascent

Time: approx 31/2 - 5 hrs

This morning we will take you to get your E-bikes and then head straight off to do the Col du Noyer 1664m.

The classic ride starts straight into the climb up to Col de Noyer, but it is possible to add a little valley circuit to warm up on and get used to the E-bikes. It's a stunning view over the Champsaur and Gap valleys all the way up, which is good as it's 13km with some steep sections of 14% gradient. After reaching the col there is a magnificent descent down into the village of St Etienne and then through the spectacular gorge of the Souloise river towards the stunning deep blue Lac du Sautet. There's another short climb up to Le Glaizil and then down to the N85 and back to your accommodation.

It is possible to add on an extra climb up to Chaillol for those who want a little bit more!

Day 3 - Col D'Izoard 2360m

Distance: 96.4km with 2105m of ascent - possible to reduce if this is too far!

Time: approx 6 hours

This is one of the legendary cols in the Tour de France and was the main Alps feature for the 2017 Tour. It's big, beautiful and very exhilarating! Starting from Gullestre, you will climb 1310 vertical metres over 30.2 km at an average gradient of 4.3%. A long, steady, sustained climb rewarded by stunning moonscape scenery! It then descends into Briancon and goes back along the other side of the mountain through Argentiere la Besse to Guillestre.

If 105km is too long, it is possible to stop after Briancon - that's the beauty of having a vehicle support with you!

Day 4 - Time Trial Challenge with Tour of Serre Poncon Lake

The first challenge of the day will be to repeat the famous 32km time trial from the 2013 Tour de France from Embrun to Chorges won by Chris Froome. See if you can beat his time of 51.33 minutes on an E-bike!

Distance: 32km with 822m of ascent

Time: approx 11/2 hours

After the challenge, there is the option of stopping and spending the afternoon sunbathing and swimming by the lake or continuing and doing the tour of the lake - it is a full on ride if you do the full tour! However, the effort will be worth it as it is probably one of the most beautiful rides in the Hautes Alpes, with breathtaking views of the Lac de Serre Poncon.

With the lake in close proximity you also have the option of a swim and sunbathe after you have finished your ride!

The full circuit is as follows but it is possible to adapt it to make it shorter.

Distance: 94km with 1640m of ascent

Time: approx 71/2 hours


Day 5 - Rest Day

Ah at last a day of rest to give your legs a rest. You still have your e-bikes so you can go for a potter about the valley sight seeing or go to the swimming lake for a fresh water swim.

It is also possible to arrange other activities such as canyoning or via ferrata and more so please ask if you would like to try something else on your free day and we can arrange this for you for a small supplement.

Day 6 - Col de Manse 1268m, Col de Moissiere 1573m and the Mont Colombis 1733m Challenge

This morning's ride is a fabulous circuit starting from your door and climbing the Col de Manse - a well used Tour de France col and the one where Lance Armstrong famously cycled over a field in the 2003 Tour de France!

Distance: 45km with 1000m of ascent

Time: 2 - 3 hours

After a beautiful descent from the col you climb back up again, this time going back via the Col de Moissiere which is a fabulously wiggly road that feels as though you are riding into the middle of nowhere.

Back at your accommodation for lunch and time to contemplate whether you are up for the afternoon challenge - the toughest climb in France, the Mont Colombis. This is a 9k climb with gradients as steep as 16.75%. A short sharp shock with a view from the top to die for! For cyclists not sure about going for this there is the option to be dropped off at the 'Trois Lacs', which is a fabulous little spot for a swim. The Mont Colombis kings and queens can then join the others afterwards to cool off their legs with a swim!

Distance 9km with 1055m of ascent

Time: 1/1/2 hours

Day 7 - Alpe D'Huez 1860m

It would be wrong to come to the Alps and not climb the mythical Alpe D'Huez mountain with it's 21 hairpin bends.

The climb itself starts in Bourg D'Oisans and is 14 1/2 km with 1121m of ascent and the fastest time it has ever been climbed in is 37'35" seconds by Marco Pantani in 1997. See how close you can get to that on an e-bike!

It is possible to just do the climb and be contented that you have achieved one of the greatest tour de France cols in history, but it is even better to do the circuit back down via the col de Sarenne and the Balcons d'Auris.

Distance: 57km with 1978m of ascent

Time: 4h

Day 8 - Sad day we say Goodbye

We'll take you back down to the train station in Gap. We will arrange the time to suit your train times and this tends to be in the morning. If your train is later, then there is a great market in Gap in the morning to go and explore. We can arrange for you to leave your luggage somewhere safe whilst you visit the town.

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Directions

We will collect you from Gap train station which has rail links from Grenoble, Valence and Aix-en-Provence TGVs and also a direct overnight sleeper service from Paris.

If you are flying here, the best airport to fly to is Marseille and there is a regular shuttle directly from the airport to Gap.

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