Once you arrive into Avignon train station you will catch the transfer to Bedoin, where you will register for the ride, meet the pie team and have a ride briefing. Of the 3 routes up, Bedoin is the Tour de France and therefore the harder route. The length of the climb from Bedoin to the summit of Mont Ventoux, at 1912m, is 21.5km, with an average gradient of 7.5%. The first section of riding, to Chalet Reynard, is forested, which hides the top of “the Beast”. However, the last 6km from Chalet Reynard onwards are much more exposed.
From here you can see for miles, but the wind can be ferocious. Once at the top and the obligatory photos taken, you descend via the Malaucène route where at the bottom you will be able to shower and have dinner. A coach will be waiting to transfer you (3 ½ hours) to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne where your accommodation awaits as well as a good night’s sleep.
An early morning breakfast is followed by a ride briefing before you start cycling. Setting off from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne there is a short warm up ride to get the lactic acid out of the legs from yesterday’s climb. Once you cross over the Arc River you immediately start the climb up to Col du Télégraphe. This climb is 11km long through forested trees, the summit is at 856m with an average gradient of 7.3%.
Once you have reached the summit there is a gentle downhill to the town of Valloire, where the climb to the summit of the Col du Galibier starts. The climb is 18.1 km long with an average gradient of 6.9% and elevation gain of 1,245m. The climb is ranked as ‘hors categories’ meaning beyond category, and when the final kilometres are over 10% your legs and lungs will certainly understand why.
The final push to get to Alpe d’Huez starts with a steady downhill for 46km to Le Bourg d’Oisans, which is at the base of one of the most famous cycling climbs. With 21 hairpins to contend with over 13.2km with an average gradient of 8.1%, you will have to really dig deep to get to the summit of this one. With little shelter on the climb the ride up can feel like a furnace. As you ride past the iconic signs counting down the hairpins, you will be into single figures in no time, looking for the finish. Only once you arrive into the village of Alpe d’Huez will you see the official finish line and legendary “Arrivée” sign, knowing that you have just achieved the impossible.
The celebration meal will be a welcome reward for the incredible effort exerted over the last 24 hours, and the comfortable bed will be a welcome relief to the tired legs.
Morning at your leisure before transferring back to Avignon to catch the train back to London.