Pyrenees TdF week (2018 Trip)
Cycling Trips to the Pyrénées - Ride 3 mountain stages of the Tour de France
We take trips to the Pyrenees on a regular basis. Confirmed dates for 2018 will be Saturday 21 July - Saturday 28 July (Tour de France week). We can arrange trips for any other dates if these do not suit your needs - please enquire.
The Tour de France will visit the Pyrenees from Tuesday 24th - Friday 27th July.
On Tuesday 24th July, the route will take riders from Carcasonne to Bagneres de Luchon, with the final climb being the Col de Portillon before descending into town.
On Wednesday 27th July, there is a short stage of just 65km starting in Bagneres de Luchon, taking the riders over the Col de Peyresourde and up to St,. Lary Soulan where they will tackle the Col de Portet.
Our trip will enable you to see the tour whilst tackling these famous climbs yourself. We will ride one full stage of the Tour and the best bits of two other stages.
These trips are designed for all you "Col Baggers". We will be based in the lovely town of Bagneres de Luchon, which is a cycling mecca in the Pyrénées as will be explained below.
Mythical Cols that are accessible from Luchon without needing to drive include:
- Superbagneres - 19km climb straight out of the town centre, rising approx 1200m to the summit at 1800m. Cat: HC
- Col de Portillon - a 10km climb from the town to the Spanish border. This climb has a couple of steep sections towards the top making it a tough one. Cat: 1
- Col de Peyresourde - a 15km climb from the town. Used in the first TdF to pass through the Pyrénées. Hard but not brutal... Cat: 1
- Port de Bales - a very tough 20km climb from further down the valley which brings you out just above the town near the bottom of the Col de Peyresourde. Cat: HC
- Hospice de France - 12 very tough kms out of the town centre but the views at the top are simply spectacular and are not to be missed! Cat: 1
- Col de Menté - only 11km but all of it tough. Starts at St. Béat just down the valley from Luchon. Famous as the climb where Luis Ocana crashed in the TdF allowing Eddy Merckx to take the yellow jersey and his 5th title. Cat: 1
- Col d'Aspin - Starts at the bottom of the other side of the Peyresourde in Arreau. You can't do one without the other! Another classic used in the TdF. The views on the Aspin are rated among the best in cycling. Oh, and the climb from Arreau is hard! Cat: 1
Saturday 21 July 2018
We will collect you from Toulouse Airport and bring you and your bike to Bagneres de Luchon where we will be based for the week. On arrival you will have an opportunity to put your bikes together, or if you wish to hire a bike, we'll take you to the shop in town where you can be fitted and given your bike for the week.
On Saturday evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner of 3 courses plus cheese and wine and go over the safety aspects of the week ahead.
Sunday 22 July 2018 (Part of TdF Stage 16)
Our first day On the road will give us an opportunity to sample what the Tour de France riders will encounter in a couple of days time. We will ride the final climbs of Stage 16 of the Tour.
We will leave Luchon and cycle down the valley for about 15km before riding up the Col des Ares. This is a short climb of about 6km and tops out at around 850m. A lovely sweeping descent follows down to the valley where we will then ride to the junction of the Portet d'Aspet and the Col de Mente. Out of interest we will ride a few hundred metres up the Portet d'Aspet to admire the beautiful memorial to Fabio Casartelli who died after crashing here in the Tour de France in 1995.
From here, we will ride the tough Col de Mente. It is a 13km climb and averages over 8%. The descent will take us back to St. Beat, on the border with Spain.
At St. Beat we will then ride for about 15km to Bossost on the Spanish side of the border before climbing the Col de Portillon which takes us back to Bagneres de Luchon.
Day 1 Stats: 104km. 2508m climbed
Monday 23 July 2018
Today we will stay around Luchon and tackle three great climbs starting on the edge of town.
First up will be the HC climb to Superbagneres. Its 19km to the top at 1800m, a total height gain of around 1200m. The first 5km out of town are quite tough but once we cross the bridge at the junction where the road climbs to the Hospice de France, the gradient evens out and it becomes a very pleasant climb.
After a coffee break at the top, the excellent descent brings us back to the bridge, where we will then start climbing again to the beautiful Hospice de France. It's a fairly steep climb but thankfully only about 8km. Your reward when you reach the end will be some delicious lunch in the restaurant washed down by views to die for! It really is exceptional there.
Just one climb to tackle after lunch - the Col de Portillon. The French side of the climb is about 12km long and mostly the gradient is around 7 or 8% but there are a couple of steep sections that will have you out of the saddle and wishing you were descending! But the top takes you to the border with Spain and is a real sense of achievement.
After descending to Luchon we have a chance to enjoy a beer and watch the preparations for the arrival of the Tour de France on Tuesday.
Day 2 Stats: 70km. 2360m climbed
Tuesday 24 July 2018 ( TdF stage 17)
Luchon will be very busy today as it prepares for the arrival of Le Tour.
We have decided to get out of town for the day and tackle the stage of the Tour that the professional riders will take on tomorrow.
The Tour riders will only ride 65km on Stage 17, but we need to add in a return journey.
We'll start by riding up the Col de Peyresourde straight out of town. It's a 15km climb but is never too tough. Once we crest the summit, a short descent follows before we turn left and head up to the Peyregudes ski resort. Some of you may recall Chris Froome losing time on this short climb in the 2017 TdF.
After reaching the ski village, we then have to negotiate a small, quiet road to get back out to the Col de Peyresourde. Here we will continue the descent before turning off to the very pretty lakeside village of Loudenvielle.
After riding around the lake, our next test awaits us at Genos. The steep and twisty Col de Val Louron - Azet is a hard 10km climb will take us to St. Lary Soulan and the start of the final climb of the day to the Col de Portet.
The Col de Portet continues on from the better known Pla d'Adet climb that has been used several times in the Tour. The total climb from St. Lary Soulan is 15km, taking you up to just over 2200m. When we checked out the route in September 2017, there were some interesting sections where the road surface was gravel for about 100m. These may be resurfaced before the Tour but the organisers could leave them in place to spice up the climb (and descent) a bit more.
When we have descended back to St. Lary Soulan, we will ride down the valley to Arreau. This town is the start of the Col de Peyresourde but if you feel that you have done enough climbing for one day, then you are welcome to get back into the van for the trip back to Luchon. For those of you who want to ride the climb, you have a 10km gentle ride up the valley before the climb actually starts at the roundabout before Genos. The first 3km are fairly easy before the last 7km which average about 7.5%.
Day 3 stats: 90km. 3171m climbed (excluding return over Col de Peyresourde)
Wednesday 25 July 2018
Luchon hosts the start of the Tour stage today and it's likely to be an explosive one! Just 65km in length, this stage will be more like a time trial - except the riders have to tackle two Cat 1's and an HC climb!
As much as we would like to see the finish of the stage, the 65km distance from Luchon and the 5.30pm finishing time means that we wouldn't get back to Luchon until quite late, so today, we will ride the Port de Bales and then ride up to the top of the Col de Peyresourde to see the riders.
The Port de Bales is a tough, long climb but one of the best you will ride! Most riders who come to Luchon with us say that it was their favourite climb of the week.
The Col de Peyresourde should need no introduction (especially as we rode it yesterday). It was first used in the Tour de France in 1910 and is a regular feature, forming part of the famous route from Pau to Bagneres de Luchon that also includes the Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque.
We'll find a suitable place to wait on the hillside. Once the riders have passed we can descend to Luchon and have an easier afternoon before tomorrow's exertions on the Col de Tourmalet!
Please note that because of TdF traffic restrictions we will not be able to take the back up vehicle up the Col de Peyresourde today.
Day 4 Stats: 88km. 2303m climbed
Thursday 26 July 2018 (Part of TdF Stage 19)
The Tour is still in the Pyrenees but the riders get an easier day today with a route following valley roads to Pau. We on the other hand will tackle the formidable Stage 19 of this year's Tour de France. We will miss out the first 60km but we are still in for a hard ride of 140km over 3 of the most famous mountains in cycling:
- The Col d'Aspin
- The Col du Tourmalet
- The Col d'Aubisque
Rather than wear ourselves out unnecessarily, our ride will start at the TOP of the Col de Peyresourde. Having a lift to the top may seem like a bit of a cop out now but you will be thanking us by the end of the ride.
We will start with the descent of the Peyresourde to Arreau. It's a good descent and the last 10km has a very gentle gradient so you will be able to get your legs warmed up before the first climb of the day - the Col d'Aspin.
The Aspin from Arreau is one of the most beautiful climbs in the Pyrenees. The road offers fantastic views of the valley below - which is just as well because you will need something to take your mind off of the last 8km of this climb, which are quite tough.
After rolling past the cows wandering around the top of the climb, the descent will take us to St. Marie de Campan and the start of the Col du Tourmalet.
The climb starts at the statue left, and is 17 fairly hard km long. After passing through a couple of hamlets at the bottom, the gradient signs start to show 9.5% quite regularly. When you get near to La Mongie ski resort, about 5km from the top, look out for Llamas! There is a fairly large herd of them up there. Beyond La Mongie you really feel as though you are in the high mountains with trees just a distant memory and rock faces dominating your view.
However, after the final few hairpin bends you see the statue of the Geant du Tourmalet - the cyclist reaching the top of the mountain. You have done it!
After a refreshing drink, we then have the delights of descending through the ski resort of Barreges and on to Luz Saint Saveur at the foot of the mountain.
A steady ride down the valley will allow us to gather our strength before the final climb of the day when we reach Argeles Gazost at the foot of the Col d'Aubisque.
You get a double whammy when climbing the Aubisque from this side as you firstly need to climb the Col de Souloir. At the top of the Souloir, the road flattens out for a short time before pointing upwards again to the Aubisque summit.
The descent of the Aubisque to Laruns is a descender's dream. Twisty and steep in places it will need your full attention but will reward you with 20km of adrenaline filled fun!
When we reach Laruns, we have a journey back to Luchon in the van ahead of us so you can rest your weary legs on the journey home.
Day 5 Stats: 142km. 3890m climbed.
Friday 27 July 2018
Today, for the last day of riding on the trip, we will head into Spain to sample a fabulous climb and some excellent lunch.
We will leave Luchon and ride up the Col de Portillon, then cross the border and descend to Bossost. From the village we will turn right off of the main road and climb the Camino San Antonio to 1758m then descend to El Pont d'Arros where we will have a leisurely lunch.
After lunch we will descend the valley road back to Bossost and from here we can either take the short cut back over the Col de Portillon back to Luchon or follow the valley road for a flat ride home.
Stats for day 6: 92km. 2227m climbed. (taking the flat route back). By taking the Col de Portillon route back, distance will be 72km and climbing will be 2826m
Map of day 6 (flat route back)
On Friday evening we will enjoy a special farewell dinner with prize giving and no doubt several drinks!
Saturday 28 July 2018
Depending on the time of your return flight, you will have the opportunity to do some shopping in Luchon or just sit at a pavement cafe and watch the world go by.
When it is time to go to Toulouse Airport, we will load your bags and cycles into the van and drop you off in good time to catch your flight home.
We have some fantastic accommodation for you during your stay in Luchon. We have leased for our exclusive use, Papilio Guest House. We can fit a maximum of 12 guests but we think that 8 or 9 would be a more comfortable number for the group.
We will provide you with a fantastic choice of breakfast each day, including cooked, as well as a delicious 3 course dinner with wine each evening.
We have use of the large garden, secure bike storage, a small pool and barbecue during the week.
Rooms are on a shared basis but one room is available for single use (has a large double bed so can accommodate a couple if required). Each room has its own en suite bathroom. One bedroom is a family room with twin beds in the larger room and full size bunk beds (with proper mattresses) in the adjacent room. 4 can comfortably share but we are happy if a group of 3 use this room.
All costs include:
- Pick up and return to/from Toulouse Airport
- 7 nights stay including breakfast and 3 course dinner with wine in Bagneres de Luchon
- Guided rides each day
- Snacks and energy drinks en route
- Mobile back up
The cost for a 7 day trip will be £975.00 per person sharing a room. The one single room available has a surcharge of £140.00 for the week. (Based on an exchange rate of 1.13€ to £1.00 at 7th July 2017) Please see our Terms for details on currency rate fluctuations.
Flights and bike hire (if required) are not included in this cost.
Register your interest. (Deposits will become payable in November 2017)