Chamonix to Nice
Chamonix to Nice
The Ride to the Sun; a 565km four-day epic, crossing eight classic cols with 11,000m of vertical ascent.
This is the most challenging ride GPM 10 organise. The route, via Megève, Bourg St Maurice, Susa in Italy, Briançon, Vars and Barcelonnette includes some of the mythical mountain passes – Cormet de Roseland, Col d’Iseran, Col d’Izoard – of the world’s toughest cycle race, through the dramatic and constantly changing landscapes of the Savoie, Tarentaise, Piedmont and the Alp Maritime.
'A hard ride with for serious cyclists in search of two wheel Nirvana, with the Tour de France at its Heart' - FT How to spend it Magazine.
Following the ‘Route des Grandes Alpes’, the road from Geneva to the Mediterranean that first opened the mountains to cycling in the early 20th century, the ride is guided and supported to a professional level on the road. Accomodation is in comfortable hotels and one mountain refuge – all serving excellent regional food.
'A great trip and definitely the highlight of the year...and extreme physical and mental onslaught' - James Lumpkin IT consultant.
Note: Groups are limited to 10 riders and clients must have ridden the Tour du Mont Blanc with GPM10 before undertaking this ride.
Thursday - Arrival day
Arrive at Geneva airport in the afternoon or evening. You will be met and driven in a shuttle to Chamonix: transfer time approx. 90 minutes. Unpack bikes and gather for dinner in the highly acclaimed restaurant at the Hotel Eden.
Friday - Chamonix to Sainte Foy Tarentaise 132km
After breakfast, we set up and check the bikes before setting off at a steady pace on the first, gentle section down the Chamonix Valley. The first real climb begins in Saint Gervais – it’s 9km to reach the ski resort of Megève. In the small town of Flumet, the first major climb begins: Col de Saisies (1,633m) is where Floyd Landis launched his ‘miracle charge’ during Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour de France, famously powering up the 16km climb on his big chain ring. That Landis later tested positive for testosterone may provide some encouragement. Lunch is at the bottom of Col de Saisies, in the quaint town of Beaufort. The next climb, through pine forests, past the turquoise Lac de Roseland and into the remote Savoie mountains, is a mammoth, 19km climb to Cormet de Roseland (1,968m). Miguel Indurain ‘bonked’ in 1996 on this ascent, ending his chance of a record sixth consecutive Tour victory. The descent to Bourg St Maurice is predominantly wide and well surfaced. The final section of this tough day is a 15km ascent to Sainte Foy Tarentaise.
Saturday - Sainte Foy Tarentaise to Susa 108km
Col d’Iseran, one of Europe’s highest paved roads at 2,770m, is for breakfast. This remote pass in the Tarentaise region has only been included in the Tour seven times, partly because, in the early years, it was thought riders might encounter bears. During the 1996 Tour, it was snow-bound. In 2007 the peloton did speed this way and the names of the leading riders, freshly painted on the road, grow thicker as you climb, and the air becomes thinner. Lunch is beside the photogenic, emerald green mountain lake just below Col du Mont Cenis (2,083m) on the French-Italian border. The day ends with a superb, twisting descent down the gorge and through a scented stone pine forest to the ancient town of Susa, and a fine welcome at the Hotel Susa.
Sunday - Susa to Vars 130km
The ride begins with a gentle cruise down the broad Susa Valley towards Turin, before turning off to climb the Col de Montgenèvre (1,854m) in the Cottian Alps: this is the lowest of the principal passes connecting France and Italy in the main range of the Alps, and was used by every invading army from Juilius Caesar to Napoleon. There is a fine, open descent to Briançon before you begin one of the true giant climbs of the Tour de France – Col d’Izoard (20km). This hors catégorie climb is famed for the bleak, wind-chiselled rock stacks and scree slopes of the Casse Déserte at the top. On the summit – a notch in the rock above the forest of ancient oak and pine – stands a monument to the great Fausto Coppi. The campionissimo crossed the Izoard alone, in yellow, in 1949, and went on to win the Tour. The blistering descent – out of the Casse Déserte, through endless hairpins, across Alpine meadows and through a limestone gorge – spits you out at Guillestre. After coffee and a snack in the town square, there is one long, last climb, to the ski resort of Vars and the refuge, to end a massive day.
Monday - Vars to Nice 195km
From the refuge where you overnight, it’s a short skip to the summit of the Col de Vars. This is the Alps Maritime, and if you didn’t notice it on day three, for the sweat pouring off your face, you will smell the Mediterranean this morning: gneiss and pine trees give way to limestone and larch and the sun becomes hotter. The final climb of the whole ride may also be the prettiest – 32km through the limestone funnel of the Gorge de Bachelard and out on to the Col de la Cayolle in the heart of Mercantour National Park. All that remains is a 100km descent – in places, swift and edgy, and in others beside the dashing white water of the Vars River – to Nice.
The guides will lead you to the hotel in Nice. Overnight here unless you have an evening flight back to the UK, in which case there will be time to shower, and pack before transferring to the airport for flights departing 9.00pm onwards.