We catch an early flight into Toulouse, and transfer to St Girons, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. We meet the pie guides and have a short ride to get the legs moving again after the journey from the UK. Lunch and dinner is provided at the hotel / in a local restaurant.
The climbing starts in earnest with three categorised climbs – the Col du Portet d’Aspet (2nd cat), Col de Mente (1st cat), and Col du Portillon (1st cat). On the way down from the Portet d’Aspet, there will be an opportunity to stop and pay our respects to Fabio Casartelli, the 1994 Olympic champion who died descending the Col.
Overnight accommodation is provided at the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon, with the opportunity (time permitting), to visit the town’s famous thermal pools.
Another 3 cols to climb today, ending with the world famous Col du Tourmalet. Today’s route follows stage 16 of the 2010 Tour de France, so you will be following in the wheel of the likes of Cavendish, Thomas, Wiggins and Millar. The eventual winner of stage 16 was Pierrick Fédrigo of France in a time of 5hrs 31 minutes … although we finish in the town of Argelès Gazost, and the Tour finished a further 87km later in Pau….
We warm up for the ‘Hors Categorie’ Col du Tourmalet by first ascending both the Col de Peyresourde (at 15km) and Col d’Aspin (at 46km), both of which are 1st cat climbs.
In terms of distance, the longest day in the saddle at 180km / 113 miles. There is an option to stretch out to hit the 200km mark, but only for those with enough energy left over at the end of a tough few days.
We finish at the seafront in Biarritz, the glitzy French sea-side resort famous for surfing and its casino. A celebration meal awaits at the hotel, or local restaurant.
Recover by the beach / surf in the Atlantic before travelling back to the airport.