The official Raid Alpine North-South is a classic road cycling challenge from Lake Geneva to Nice on the Cote dAzur through the Southern Alps and over some of the most legendary Alpine climbs, including the two highest: the Col de lIseran and the Cime de la Bonette. The scenery shifts dramatically from quintessential Alpine meadow views in the north to rocky gorges and the Mediterranean scrublands of the south. The Raid Alpine allows you to get to know this mountain range intimately.
There are busy sections (thanks to the breathtaking views), but as ever, on two wheels you also get to explore the quiet roads and lesser known cols which may well end up being your favourite climbs and descents. Whilst the daily distances and ascents over six consecutive days in the saddle are impressive, this Raid is a suitable first for those with previous experience of climbing in the mountains.
For over 15 years now we have been supporting cyclists in achieving their goals. We are passionate about our product being the best it can be and we enable over 100 cyclists every year to achieve the official Raid Alpine route. We provide two highly customised support vans per group; our guides are attentive and energetic and we know that this is not just a cycling challenge it is also a holiday, so we keep it fun. It is also about your goals and aspirations and we pride ourselves on our individual customer focus from your first enquiry to the last moment of your holiday.
If you would like to visit the Alps but do not want to do a Raid challenge, then the Classic Cols of the Alps with its flexible itinerary may be the cycling holiday for you.
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Day 0: Travel out
We offer included transfers from Geneva Airport to Thonon-les-Bains (1hr). Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes. Meet your guides, assemble bikes and have a welcome briefing and great dinner.
Day 1: Thonon-les-Bains to La Clusaz (118km with 3200m ascent)
Enjoy a gentle warm up from the shores of Lake Geneva before the first climb (and stamp) of the trip: the diminutive Col des Moises (1118m). From here your route takes you through quiet pine forests and over the stunning foothills of the Alps. Along the way youll pass the stunning Col de Terramont (1080m), Jambaz (1027m) and Col de la Ramaz (1557m) and on to the classic Grand Colombiere (1613m) towards the end of the day (ok, not quite such a foothill!). 118km with 3200m ascent [Ride profile] Detour (makes the day 138km with 3700m ascent) Please note that, as last year, there are some major road works being undertaken on the descent from the Col de Ramaz to Taninges. It is likely that the road is still going to be closed in 2020. The only option is to detour via the beautiful Col de lEncrenaz and Les Gets. This adds 20km and 500m of ascent to the day.
Day 2: La Clusaz to Bourg-St-Maurice (99km with 2900m ascent)
A beautiful ride today through some of the most well known areas of the Alps. Tick off the final few km of the Col des Aravis (1487m) before crossing into the Savoie region and taking on the Col de Saisies (1633m) with its fabulous descent to the cheese mecca of Beaufort. The climbs come in thick and fast today; next up is the testing Col du Pr (1740m), a quick dash across the dam (pictured), followed by the comparatively gentle Cormet de Roselend (1968m). You are rewarded with fantastic views all afternoon and an epic 26km descent to your hotel in a peaceful setting on the outskirts of the thriving Bourg-Saint-Maurice. 99km with 2900m ascent
Day 3: Bourg-St-Maurice to Valloire (139km with 3200m ascent)
Up is the word for it! The mighty Col de lIseran (2770m) stands between you and your hotel tonight a whopping 47km climb that definitely sees you earn your carnet stamp at the top! Enjoy a great descent to Lanslebourg before climbing up onto the balcony road over the Cte dAussois (1519m). Your next down section takes you all the way to the foot of the Col du Tlgraphe (1566m), one of the most well known climbs in the Alps. With that ticked off, you head to the pretty mountain resort of Valloire for the night. 139km with 3200m ascent [Ride profile]
Day 4: Valloire to Vars (120km with 3200m ascent)
Another day of Alpine Classics today, starting with the infamous Col du Galibier (2642) with its sting in the tail (10% av. gradient for the last km). Enjoy a fast run from the top down into Brianon to start the 2nd big boy of the day: the Col dIzoard (2361m) with its monuments to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet. It is an epic 19km climb, so you get a good run downhill afterwards before taking on the majority of the Col de Vars (2109m) with its great views of classic Alpine meadows. You pause in the ski resort of Vars les Claux tonight (1823m). 120km with 3200m ascent [Ride profile]
Day 5: Vars to Valberg (133km with 3400m ascent)
You warm up your legs this morning by ticking off the last few km of the Col de Vars (2105m) and after a great 20km descent and a brief dash along the valley, you arrive at Jausiers, quietly at the base of todays main event the highest road going over a col in Europe, the famous Cime de la Bonette (2802m). It is a long climb at 23km but is fairly steady and you earn an incredible 53km descent from the top, down to St-Sauveur-sur-Tine. Just one more cliff-hugging climb to go: the Col de la Couillole (1678m) before you reach the iconic ski town of Valberg for a well-earned rest. 133km with 3400m ascent [Ride profile]
Day 6: Valberg to Nice (160km with 2000m ascent)
Start with a stunning descent through the Gorges du Cian today before climbing the Col de Saint-Raphal (876m) and undulating across some fabulous countryside drier and distinctly Mediterranean! The last main col of the Raid is the Col de Bleine (1439m) followed by a 27km descent to St-Vallier-de-Thiey. One more pimple to cross, the Col du Pilon (786m) before you head into suburban Cte dAzur. Head to the coast and along to the final nights hotel to meet up with your guides for your celebratory glass of bubbles! 160km with 2000m ascent [Ride profile]
Day 7: Travel Back
Transfers to the airport are included and take 10min. We use the hotels airport shuttle service which runs from 6am. Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.