We start in Como on June 20th 2011 and finish 12 days later on July 1st 2011. There are two rest days, as well as the first and last days containing no major climbs. This means that the remaining 8 days have at least one of the climbs shown on the route pictured above!!
Nine of the climbs have summits over 2000 metres above sea level! The other one may only be 1845 metres but it is the infamous l’Alpe d’Huez with it’s 21 hairpins each named after Tour de France riders from the past battles up it’s steep slopes. There is another small climb just after it which just misses the 2000 metre value at only 1999 metres, but look at the route that day and you will see that we still maintain an over 2000 metre summit on the climbing days, bring it on!!
The cycling days average around 110K in length with the shortest around 77K and the longest around 137K. I have created a separate page showing the profiles of each of the climbs.
Monday June 20th Como to Locarno – 122K
A “gentle” start cycling around some of the lakesides of Lakes Como, Lugano and Maggiore whilst crossing the Swiss/Italian border a few times before arriving at Locarno in Switzerland for the night.
Tuesday June 21st Locarno to Visp – 114K
We stay in Switzerland and have our first serious climbing day up and over the Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione). This is quite a long climb around 40K with gradients varying from 2 to 8% and a summit of just over 2000 metres before we descend to Visp for the rest day.
Wednesday June 22nd Rest Day in Visp
A chance for a visit to Zermatt and to see the well known landmark of The Matterhorn.
Thursday June 23rd Visp to Etroubles – 137K
Today we tackle the 4th highest climb of the trip, the mighty Col du Grand St. Bernard with it’s summit of 2469 metres. It is just over 30K long with gradients varying from 2 to 10% with some of the steepest being near the summit. Once over the summit we descend back into Italy and the finish at Etroubles.
Friday June 24th Etroubles to Bourg St. Maurice – 105K
The little brother of the day before, the Col du Petit St. Bernard, is on the route today as we go over the border from Italy to France. It has a summit of 2188 metres and is slightly shorter at 27.5K and it’s gradients vary from 1.5 to 8%. The steepest part only lasting for about 1K but the average is maybe a bit more than yesterday. We now stay in France for the rest of the trip.
Saturday June 25th Bourg St. Maurice to Lanslevillard – 77K
It may seem a nice short distance today but almost 48K of it is climbing the second highest climb of the trip, the Col de L’Iseran at 2770 metres. It has a few tunnels and covered galleries on it’s way up and the gradient is between 1.5 and 7%. The climb is divided into 4 distinct parts. The initial 9K is gentle climbing of no more than 3%. This is followed by 15K where the gradient remains around 6%. These two parts are almost completely repeated giving a 9K plateau of less than 3% before the final 15K around 6%! Once over the top it’s down to the finish at Lanslevillard.
Sunday June 26th Lanslevillard to Bourg d’Oisans – 124K
The third highest climb is on the menu today, the Col du Galibier with it’s summit of 2647 metres. There is however a twist to the day as the Col du Telegraph stands in the way of the Col du Galibier. The Col du Telegraph is 12K long with gradients between 4 and 8% but as soon as the summit is reached there is a “nice” drop of 5K to put your legs back to sleep before the main climb up the Col du Galibier starts! This climb is a further 18K with gradients between 4 and 8.5% with the last 8K being over 8%! Once over the top is is down to Bourg d’Oisans for a rest day.
Monday June 27th Rest Day in Bourg d’Oisans
Rest days don’t always mean what they say! It is possible for the very keen participants to go and conquer two more local climbs, the Col du Glandon with a summit of 1924 metres and after that the Col de Croix de Fer with a summit of 2067 metres. Get up early enough and do these before coming back and resting for the remainder of the day, the choice is there for the energetic!
Tuesday June 28th Bourg d’Oisans to Briancon – 87K
For a lot of the participants this will be the “big day” with L’Alpe d’Huez being on the menu. Such a famous Tour de France climb, this is one that most cyclists would like to tackle at some time in their lives. Perhaps one of the biggest difficulties of this climb, apart from the consistently hard gradient, is that there is almost no warm up ride to it’s base!! Staying in Bourg d’Oisans means that the start of the climb is only a short distance from the start point of the day. The climb starts off with about 2K of over 10% gradient before settling down to 10K where the gradient stays fairly even at around 8 to 8.5%, with the easiest part being the last 2K at around 3%! It is legendary and most cyclists will have witnessed some of the Tour de France battles that have been played out on it’s tough slopes.
Following on for a few kilometres the road drops and then climbs up the Col de Sarenne with its summit at 1999 metres before dropping down towards Le Freney d’Oisans. Once at the bottom the route turns towards the end at Briancon with only the Col du Lauteret to be overcome. It has a summit of 2058 metres and is about 34K long with more friendly gradients between 1 and 7% , the steepest being in the first 3K.
Wednesday June 29th Briancon to Jausiers – 91K
Two climbs today with the first being the Col d’Izoard with its summit at 2360 metres. About 19K long it has gradients between 1% and 10% with a stretch of 7K near the top of over 8%. At the top is a small museum to some of the famous Tour de France stars of the past and a memorial to the great Fausto Coppi from Italy. Dropping down the other side there is only the 19.5K Col de Vars to be climbed before the end of the day. It has a summit of 2109 metres and gradients between 1.5% and 9%. It has been included on the Tour de France route more than 30 times!
Thursday June 30th Jausiers to Puget-Theniers – 129K
Well the biggest climb is here at last, and another one that gives not much chance of a warm up before the lower slopes start to hurt the legs! The Col de la Bonette climbs for 24K and includes the Col de Restefond on the way up to the summit at 2802 metres. The gradients are between 2.5 and 9% with the hardest section being after 6K and lasting for 14K. There are some interesting ruins near the top associated with the Maginot Line from WW2.
Once over the top the major climbs of the trip have finished and the day ends at Puget-Theniers ready for the last day ride to Nice!
Friday July 1st Puget-Theniers to Nice – 95K
Only 95K of pleasant French countryside leading down from the foothills of the Alps remain before reaching the Mediterranean and Nice, journeys end! 1100K and many metres of climbing are now over and a rest can be had at the end of an interesting 12 day adventure.