Many Wheelers have experienced cycling in the Alps including Terry
Butcher and Russel Whitford taking on the Marmotte, Zena and Hannah
Shean completing the Alpe d'Huez triathlon, Russel Whitford downhill
mountain biking and various members taking a more leisurely approach to
the mountains. I have had 8 dedicated cycling holidays, one motorcycling
adventure and a few road trips passing through and staying in the area.
A few people have asked about cycling in the Alps so here are a few
thoughts which may help persuade you to take the plunge. Please note
that these are personal thoughts, not official club recomendations.
Why the French Alps?
Good question - there are plenty of mountains about and you don't need
2,000m Cols to have a hard day in the saddle with great views. Nearer to
home we have Snowdonia, The Lake District and Scottish Highlands. France
also boasts the Vosges, the Jura, the Central Massif and the Pyrenees.
Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Austria to name just a few are equally
blessed but the French Alps have it all. The famous climbs of the Tour,
the hidden gems away from the crowds, bases suitable for a week of
climbing and, just as importantly, it is easy to
get to. From South East England you can drive there easily in a day -
yes the French autoroute novice may raise an eyebrow at the road tolls,
the cost of petrol at motorway service stations* and how close people
drive to you at 80mph, but you have the genuine choice of fly, train,
coach or drive that the other areas just don't have. It is easy to drive home
from the Pyrenees in a day, but they are just that little but further
making the outward journey where you lose an hour just that little bit
too long. I prefer to drive as despite being able to base yourself with
rides from your door every day, the added flexibility of a car really
*yes there is a L'Eclerc supermarket just off the A4
at Reims, but if you need topping up this close to Calais then saving a
few Euro on petrol is not your biggest concern.
Where to stay?
I have not experienced all that the French Alps have to offer but have been to most
of the main centres; all have plenty of pros and very few cons.
1. Boug d'Oisan / Romanche Valley - The classic choice, the home
of the Alpe d'Huez.
Famous Climbs? Bourg d'Oisan is at the foot of the Alpe
d'Huez - the most famous climb in cycling. Road closure permitting, the
Col du Galibier is reached via the Col du Lauteret. The Glandon and
Croix de Fer are also here. So big name climbs famous from the tour are
Quieter Climbs? Most people who ride the Alpe come straight back
down the same way. What a waste. The 'other' way down via the Col du Sarenne, though more popular now that it has been in the Dauphine and
Tour, is so much quieter and so much nicer. One of my favourite rides.
Hidden Gems? La Berarde, the balcony roads of Oisan, Oulles,
Villard-Reculas, Villard Notre-Dame. The list goes on.
Easy to get to? Easy with a car, the truly independent traveller
will need to get a bus from Grenoble (train or plane to Lyon or Geneva). Can you take your bike on a bus? Probably,
but I have never asked, but winter sports people will take skis and
snowboards so you would think a bike would be OK. Check before
Do I need a car? - No - but being able to drive up the Glandon to
tackle the Glandon / Croix-de-Fer / Mollard from the other valley is an
Massive Challenge Route? - The route of the Marmotte, (Glandon/Croix-de-Fer,
Telegraph, Galibier, Lauteret & Alpe d'Huez) say no more.
Quirky Rides? Take a gravel bike / light 29er and ride the unmade
roads such as Col du Solude, Col du Marone and Col du Cloy. I would not
recommend true off-roading without a guide but these are gravel roads,
marked on a map. All you need is puncture protection to get a different
view of the area.
Easy Rides? This is the only drawback - there is very little flat
riding around here. The Col d'Ornon is not the the Alpe d'Huez but it is
still more up than anything in south east England.
Click here for a map of climbs from Bourg d'Oisan.
Overall if it is to be your only trip to the Alps you are almost
obliged to go to Bourg. But not necessarily...
2. Arc Valley / Maurienne - More famous climbs than you can shake
a stick at.
Famous Climbs? Where to start; Madeleine, Glandon, Croix-de-Fer,
Galibier, Isere. It is HC central around here.
Quieter Climbs? Despite it's fame and height, the Col de l'Iseran
is far less busy than the others. The Col du Mollard is another quiet
climb but the real star must be Le Plan du Lac above Termignon high up
the valley. I have not ridden it but it looks awesome.
Hidden Gems? Lacets du Montvernier, Col du Chaussy and Jardin
Communal du Jarrier centrally in the valley and Col de la Grand Cucheron towards
Do I need a car? No, but trains to Modane for Isere / Mont Cenis
are rare so a car is more convenient. TGV trains go straight up the
valley from Paris or local trains from Chambery so easy to get to
without a car.
Massive Challenge Ride? You can do the route of the Marmotte but
how about a loop of Col de l'Iseran and Col du Madeleine via Bourg St
Quirky Rides? There is an unmade road from Valloire bypassing the Telegraph.
There will be more but not as obvious as those in the Romanche.
Easy Rides? There is some flat riding in the valley but the best
option is to drive to Albertville for the Piste Cyclable to Annecy.
You cannot go wrong in this valley. St Jean du Maurienne or the
cluster of villages of St-Marie-des-Cuines, St-Etienne-des-Cuines, La
Chambre & Saint Avre are the best places to stay.
Click here for a map of climbs in the Arc Valley.
3. Isere Valley: Bourg St Maurice / Moutiers - France's most
famous ski resorts.
Famous Climbs? Isere, Petit St Bernard, Cormet de Roselend, Col
de la Madeleine and the three valleys. The Col de l'Iseran is the
highest paved true pass in Europe. There are higher roads (see below)
but the l'Iseran is a true pass and not a dead-end or loop road.
Quieter Climbs? Naves, Col du Pre and Valmorel.
Hidden Gems? Parc Naturel de la Vanoise above Landry. I also have
to say Les Arcs for the sheer ugliness of these resorts. I am
particularly fond of the Petit St Bernard as the lower section to the
resort of La Rosiere is at a constant gradient and protected from the
wind. The Cormet de Roselend is beautiful.
Do I need a car? No, trains up the valley mean you can get here
easily without one and get you home after a long loop but the N90
between Moutiers and Aime is busy (only ride it downhill) and the road
up to Val d'Isere from Bourg is a drag. To borrow a phrase from mountain
biking, an uplift to Val d'Isere is much appreciated. Climb up to the
Col above 2,700m and then ride downhill for 50km back to Bourg.
Massive Challenge Ride? The giant loop of Isere and Madeleine via
Maurienne is one or maybe Cormet de Roselend, Col du Pre, Col de Saises,
Col des Aravis, Col de le Croix Fry, Col du Marais and Col de l'Epine.
Or how about all of the 'three valleys' in one day - Val Thorens,
Meribel, Courchevel and Pralognan-la-Vanoise. Hang on a minute, that is
Quirky Rides? Probably. A centre for mountain biking so there has
to be something different.
Easy Rides? There is a flat, traffic free ride from Bourg to Aime
or a train ride to Albertville for the flat ride to Annecy
There is no denying the awesome scenery of the Isere and the Roselend
and the ability to have a coffee in Italy up the Petit St Bernard, but
this valley is busier than the others (the Arc Valley is the way to
Italy via the Frejus tunnel but all the traffic is on the motorway) and
may not be the ideal choice. Both times I stayed here I had uplifts to
Val d'Isere and Collection from the foot of the Madeleine which made
things a little easier.
Click here for a map of climbs in the Isere Valley.
4. Barcelonnette: The Southern Alps - the connoisseur's choice.
Famous Climbs? Cime de la Bonnette, Col de Cayolle, Col d'Allos,
Quieter Climbs? Cime de la Bonnette, Col de Cayolle, Col d'Allos,
Praloup. Seriously the tour rarely comes down here for a variety of
reasons. Firstly it is tucked away into the south-east corner of the
country and unless the route needs to head north from Isola or the
French Riviera then there is no reason to come here. There are few big
resorts so a shortage of hotels. Recently the tour has visited Praloup
and Risoul, though Gap (to the west) and Briancon (to the north) are frequent stops.
Hidden Gems? I have only been over the Bonnette and Vars so am
not really able to comment but there is bound to be something.
Do I need a car? To get here, yes. It is a long way from Valence
or Grenoble for the TGV and a little way from Gap or Emrbun for the
regional train. You have plenty of climbs around here but a car also
open ups the Col d'Izoard and Col d'Agnel (Europe's highest border crossing) which would be big
days out without a car.
Massive Challenge Ride? The 'big loop' of Col Allos, Col des
Champs and Col de la Cayolle spends plenty of time above 2,000m and goes
through some very sparsely populated areas so load up with drinks and
bars. The Vars and Izoard combination to Briancon is another big day from here.
Quirky Rides? The Col du Parpaillon must be the quirkiest of all
Cols. Originally part of the Routes des Grand Alps, this pass was passed
over for the neighbouring Col de Vars when it came to tarmac. The pass
is on an unmade road, so you need a suitable bike, the highlight is a
tunnel at 2,637m, avoiding the summit at 2,760m, that a Sheppard opens in
spring when the snow melts. There are also some gravel roads in the ski
area of Risoul.
Easy Rides? Not really, the main road in the valley is a little
but busier than you would expect due to the traffic to Cuneo over the
Col de la Madellena / Col du Larch. It is officially forbidden to cycle
the French side, apparently due to risk of rockslides rather than
Italian lorry drivers avoiding the tolls of the Frejus tunnel.
The biggest drawback to Barcelonnete is getting there. It is at least
two hours of non-motorway driving on from Grenoble or Valence so pushing
a day's drive from Calais. Possible but you would want to know in
advance that your hotel will let you in at ten o'clock at night. The
scenery is different down here - though there are plenty of roads above
2,000m there are few really high peaks and few ski resorts. The
vegetation starts to be influenced by the warm Mediterranean climate.
The climb up the Bonnette from Jausiers starts in the trees, soon moves
into scrub and finishes in exposed scree. It may not be mountain scenery
like Val d'Isere but it has a beauty of its own. The area is much
quieter than the central alps, though the Route des Grandes Alps brings
a few Grand Tourers
5. Annecy: Family Friendly - The 'Lakes and Mountains' option.
Famous Climbs? Annecy-Semnoz (Cret du Chatillion). With a car the
Col de le Joux Plain and the Lacets du Grand Colombier are fairy local.
Quieter Climbs? Plenty of climbs around here, though Annecy is
major tourist centre so quiet may not be the correct word. The steep
(southern) side of the Col de la Forclaz de Montmin is quiet because it
is so much steeper than the northern side.
Hidden Gems? Col de Tamie has a lovely section through Alpine
pasture but you have to go a long way to beat the view from the Forclaz.
Do I need a car? No. You can get to Annecy easily without a car
and there are plenty of Cols you can get to by starting on the Piste
Cyclable du Lac Annecy. It is easy to plan a big day, but with a decent
amount of time on the flat.
Massive Challenge Ride? It is easy to plan a multi Col rides. They
may not be the highest, but repeat climbs should not be underestimated.
One example is Annecy to Thones and then on to Col de la Croix Fry, Col
des Aravis, Col des Saises and Albertville before Col du Tamie and a
flat ride home from Faverges. Or start with the Cret du Chatillion and
onwards to Albertville or Chambery with a choice of routes over a variety of
Quirky Rides? You can ride most of the way up Mont Veyrier from
the east side.
Easy Rides? The Piste Cyclable du Lac Annecy is a traffic free
route along the course of an old railway line to Albertville where it
meets up with the route along the Isere. Construction of traffic free
and segregated on-road sections around the eastern shore of the lake is
underway. It is a fantastic facility and is well used.
Annecy is a large resort that has various attractions for the
non-cyclist (and cyclists on their rest days) and also has the excellent
flat and traffic free route to Albertville. This makes it an ideal
family destination - the cyclist can have a 'quick' ride up the Cret du
Chatillion while the rest of the family have a lie-in. The Cret was
renamed Annecy-Semnoz for the tour recently and while it tops out at
less than 1,800m it has a higher vertical gain than the Alpe d'Huez. The
only drawback to Annecy is that you are not close to the real giants of
the Alps, but Cormet du Roselend can be ridden from Albertville and the
Madeleine, Glandon/Croix-de-Fer and Telegraph / Galibier can be reached
by car in less than 2 hours. Makes for a long day, but a week at Annecy
with a full day out for the Galibier is an excellent holiday choice.
Click on the links below for 5 loops from Annecy.
Semnoz & Col du Tamie,
Pre & Roselend & Saises,
Croix Fry & Aravis & Saises,
Routes des Montagnes,
Le Grand Bonand
6. Briancon: Europe's highest town - the alternative option.
Famous Climbs? Col d'Izoard & Casse Desert and Cols du Lauteret &
Quieter Climbs? Col du Granon and many dead-end roads into the
Hidden Gems? Nevache and other roads to the north such as the Col
Do I need a car? You can get to Briancon by train and big loops
to the south can start or end with a train trip to/from Mont-Dauphin
(for Guillestre) or Embrun but a car will bring the climbs from
Barcelonnete into play.
Massive Challenge Ride? A big loop via Izoard and Vars or Izoard, Agnel
and Risoul or the 'big loop' from Barcelonette.
Quirky Rides? Into the Ecrins via Vallouise, the Col des Gondrans
or to Bardonecchia in Italy via Col de l'Eschelle. May need a gravel
bike for this one.
East Rides? The main road through the Romanche Valley is quite
busy, especially with the direct route from Grenoble via the Lautaret
blocked, though much of the main road is shadowed by quieter roads
through the villages.
The first impression of choosing Briancon as a base is that it is
more driving just for proximity to the Izoard and having a citadel to
look around on your rest day but a closer look at the map throws
up all sorts of options. Quiet roads into the mountains and Europe's
highest border crossing (Col d'Agnel) are close by. If you have a car
the climbs from Barcelonette are easily accessible and if you have a
suitable bike, the gravel roads above Risoul and the Col du Parpaillon
are all options. Indeed, is a week enough in Briancon?
At the bottom of the page there is an option that traverses the Alps
rather than being tied to a single base.
What do I need to ride the Alps?
A compact chainset and at least a 28 rear sprockett! With 11 speed
cassettes common now, you could easily have a 30 or even 32 tooth. You
may climb up steeper hills at home in a higher gear, but you can be
climbing 20km here so lower gears help. Especially when you are riding
No repaired inner tubes - long descents means lots of heat generated
from braking which can lift patches on repaired tubes.
2 large water bottles with your spares and tools in a saddle bag. There
is plenty of potable water in rural France but always best to have large
bottles for contingency especially if you are taking on an epic ride.
Plenty of bars and gels - If you are riding out of the summer holidays,
away from the main centres, especially on a Sunday or Monday you may
find that Auberge is closed. Generally cafes are open at the top of
passes, but you have only taken enough food if you have some left at the
Clothing for all seasons! Arm-warmers, gilet and water-proof are a must.
So hot when climbing, so cold when descending. Long finger gloves and
knee / leg warmers also help but it gets a bit much to carry it all. You
may want a camera as well.....
Lights - many roads have tunnels.
Phone - don't rely on the signal though. Always best to
have studied a map than to depend on a phone signal. If you are tackling
gravel roads you should take a map with you, though some such as Col de
Marone and Col du Cloy are no harder to navigate than proper roads.
Emergency contact details - tell someone where you are going and take something with
your name, hotel and emergency contact details.
Descending - don't brake all the way down, your pads will melt. Don't
look at the scenery, look at your line around the corner and that is
where you will steer. If you want to admire the scenery, stop somewhere
safe and take a photo. Watch out for gravel and loose rocks, especially
on the outside of corners.
Cornering technique? Remember the roads are
not closed, beware of faster traffic over-taking you and other road
users climbing. Only rarely can you take the racing line. Descending the inside
of the hairpin; ideally you will look behind to a clear road and move
out to the centre of the road whilst slowing. A look down the road will
tell you if you can use width to your advantage or of you need to move
in. That is why you have scrubbed all your speed off.
Round the outside of the bend watch out for gravel, take your speed off
before cornering and look at the line you want to take. If it is wet,
allow more time and space to slow down. Remember, it is better to be
disappointed about how slow you went round a corner than regretting
taking it too fast.
When can I go?
The high passes are closed until May and the snow may not be completely
gone until June. You will have seen the trouble the Giro d'Italia has in
the high mountains in May and even the Tour in July may have freezing
conditions. Or a heatwave. If you are tied to school holidays then late
July and August may be very hot with occasional storms. September tends
to be a little more settled but you have to be prepared or any weather
in the mountains.
The highest roads in France - and where to stay
to ride them. Many other unmade roads exist and are not listed.
Pryenean climbs in italics.
1. Cime de la Bonnette. 2802m. Ride up from Barcelonette / Jausiers.
2. Col de l'Iseran. 2770m. Ride from Bourg St Mauirce / Val d'Isere to
the north or the Arc valley to the south.
3. Col d'Agnel. 2744m. Ride from Guillestre, a short drive from
Barcelonette or Briancon or a longer drive from Bourg d'Oisan.
4. Col de la Bonnette. 2715m. The Col below the Cime. The Cime is just a
loop road built to be higher than the Col de l'Iseran.
5. Col de la Restefond. 2680m. Entered for completeness as this is on
the same road as the Bonnette at the point where an unmade road heads
off avoiding the Bonnette. The Col is not even marked on the road. The
track ends up over the Col de la Moutiere at 2450m.
6. Col du Galibier. 2645m. Climb from the Arc Valley to the north or
Bourg d'Oisan / Briancon to the South.
7. Col de Sencours. 2637m. Unmade road above the Col du Tourmalet in
the Pyrenees on the way to the Pic di Midi du Bigorre observatory.
Gravel bike needed.
8. Col de la Moutiere. 2450m From Barcelonnette. You will need a
gravel bike for this.
9. Col du Granon. 2413m. Ride up from Briancon.
10. Envalira Pass. 2408m. Technically in Andorra but you can climb up
from France but as it is in the Pyrenees an Alpine base doesn't help!
11. Le Plan du Lac. 2370m. Quiet ride up from Termignon high up the
Arc Valley near the foot of the climb to Col de l'lseran.
12. Col du Parpaillon. 2367m. Unmade road, climb from Barcelonette or
13. Col d'Izoard. 2361m. From Briancon to the north or Guillestre to the
14. Col de Lombarde. 2350m. Border crossing to Italy above Isola. No
real convenient base for this one. It is a long trip if you are on a
family holiday in Nice.
15. Val Thorens. 2350m. Europe's highest ski resort, climb from Moutiers
in the Isere Valley.
16. Gondran. 2347m. Climb from Briancon, one side is an
unmade road and the other is a military road you are not allowed on!
17. Col de la Cayolle. 2326m. Climb from Barcelonette.
18. Saut Dam. 2280m. Dead-end road above Tignes, climb from Bourg St
Maurice. Tignes tops out at La Claret at 2130m, which would be good enough for #27 on
19. Col d'Allos. 2250m. Another high climb from Barcelonette.
20. Puigmal. 2225m. Highest paved road in the French Pryenees but in
very poor condition. The road does go higher but looks like mtb
21. Col des Tentes. 2208m. Gravel road above Gavarnie in the Pyrenees,
Gavarnie is a beauty spot but off-limits to Le Tour.
22. Cim de Coma Morera. 2205m. Another high road of the Pyrenees,
crossing into Spain, of poor quality and narrow so not used in the tour.
23. Route des Lacs / Lac d'Aumar. 2200m. Another Pyrenean gem not used
in the tour due to National Park rules. The 'other' fork reaches Lac de
Cap-de-Long at 2175m.
24. Col du Petit St Bernard. 2183m. Back to the Alps at last. Climb
from Bourg St Maurice.
25. Les Arcs. 2150m. Horrible ski resorts above Bourg St Maurice.
26. Lac d'Allos. 2133m. Big day from Barcelonette. Over the Col d'Allos,
down the other side and up to the lake. Then back home the same way.
27. Col du Tourmalet. 2115m. The most famous Col in the Pyrenees.
28. Col du Vars. 2108m. Climb from Barcelonette or a big day from
Briancon via the Izoard.
29. La Plagne. 2100m. Resort above Bourg St Maurice.
30. Col du Sabot. 2100m. Dead-end road above Vaujany. Climb from Bourg
d'Oisan. Great view over the Lac du Grand Maison.
31. Cirque de Troumouse. 2100m. Another Pyrenenean gem. Quiet, scenic
and off-limits to Le Tour.
32. Col des Champs. 2089m. Part of the big loop from Barcelonette -
Cayolle, Champs & Allos. 3 climbs all above 2000m.
33. Col de Mont Cenis. 2081m. The original road from Paris to Turin.
Climb from the Arc Valley. Popular with motorcycles, most other traffic
uses the Frejus Tunnel.
34. Lac Besson. 2080m. Dead-end above Alpe d'Huez. Lovely spot for a
picnic. Climb from Bourg d'Oisan.
35. Col de la Croix-de-Fer. 2067m. Climb from Bourg d'Oisan or the
36. Col du Lauteret. 2058m. Coffee stop on the way up the Galibier from
Bourg' d'Oisan or Briancon.
37. Saint Veran. 2050m. A road off the Col d'Agnel. Climb from Briancon
That is 37 climbs 2050m and higher and the famous HC climbs of Col du
Glandon, Col du Sarenne, Col de la Madeleine and Alpe d'Huez are not
The Routes des Grandes Alps
If a week in one place seems to restrictive and you want a different
challenge then how about the Routes des Grandes Alps. The route was a
1920s marketing ploy - a route from Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) in the north
to Menton on the Mediterranean over some of the highest peaks. It is a
logistical challenge as well as a physical one. You could do it on a
touring bike carrying all your kit, with a support crew or on an
organised holiday. If you are organising his yourself and booking hotels
in advance you must consider the affect bad weather will have on your
ability to keep to schedule. Climbing in the wet isn't so bad but
descending can be cold, slow, slippery and scary. What would be an epic
day in good weather could turn into a suicide mission in the wet. The
route is still marked but cyclists are likely to make some variations to
the official route - read on and you will see why.
The route originally started in Thonon-les-Bains but has been extended
to start in the Belgian Ardennes travelling south via the Vosges and the
Jura. We will start in Thonon on the shores of Lac Leman (note the
sections below do not necessarily correspond to recommended daily
Section 1 -Escaping the Lake. The road starts on the busy D902
towards Morzine and the Col des Gets. You will probably take a detour
into Morzine to take on the quiet Col de la Joux Plane rather than the
busy Col des Gets. You will meet the main road at Taninges for the short
climb of the Col de Chatillon before dropping into Cluses.
Section 2 - La Tarentaise. The cheese-making Alpine pastures are
your companion now as you pass the Col de la Colombiere, Le Grand
Bornand, Col des Aravis and descend into Flumet.
Section 3 -
Beaufort. The cheese connection does not stop. From Flumet you climb
the Col des Saises on the way to Beaufort. Here you have a choice,
follow the main road or the detour up the Col du Pre before meeting the
main road again at the Col de Meraillet close to the summit of the
Cormet de Roselend. You then descend to Bourg Saint Maurice.
Section 4 - Alpine Giants. From Bourg you climb past Val d'Isere for
the mighty Col de l'Iseran and the long descent to St Michel de
Maurienne before climbing the Telegraph and the Galibier and dropping
into the Col de Lautaret.
Section 5 - An optional extra. Some
cyclists simply cannot bypass the Alp d'Huez so after dropping to the
Lautaret from the Galibier you can leave the route for a detour to Bourg
d'Oisan and a trip up the Alpe and the Sarenne before climbing back up
the Lautaret. Others avoid this back-tracking by omitting the Telegraph
and getting to the Romanche valley via the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, again
neatly arriving at the foot of the Alpd'Huez. Rejoing the Route des
Grandes Alps at the Col de Lautaret, it is only a 7km back-track up the
Galibier. You cannot bypass the Galibier.
Section 6 - Brianconnais.
Into Briancon and then up the Col d'Izoard and descending through the
Casse Dessert and the Gorge du Queyras. The climbing continues over the
Col de Vars before descending into Barcelonette.
Section 7 -
Another Choice of Route. The official route heads south over the Col
de la Cayolle and then east over the Col de Valberg, Col Sainte-Anne and
the Col de la Couillole into Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinee where the officlal
route meets with the route variation of the Cime de le Bonnette which
you could have taken from Barcelonete. One other option would be to have
an extra day in Barcelonnette and have a run up and down the Bonnette.
How can you miss the highest road when riding the Routes des Grandes
Section 8 - Into Provence. Rather than heading due south
to the coast, the route heads east over the Col Saint Martin, heads
south again and the east over the engineering marvel that is the Col du
Turini and then south again into Sospel. Take care out of Sospel as you
must be on the D2566 to the Col de Castillion and not the D2566A as that
takes motor traffic through a tunnel. The road then drops into Menton
for a well deserved beer on the beach and a cooling dip in the sea.
Section 9 - Madone and Eze. Obligatory if you have a Trek bike.
The Col de la Madone de Gorbio, or Col de la Madone, is here. Lance
Armstong's training ride. If the Alpe is cycling's most famous climb
then this surely is its most infamous. You have to test yourself against
Lance's (and all the other tax dodgers living in Monaco) times. You take
the road up towards Sainte-Agnes before turning onto the Route de la
Madonna and climbing to the Col at the Church of the Madonna. The fun is
not over, you have a fast descent into La Turbie before the short climb
to the Col d'Eze along the Grande Corniche. You then descend into Nice
and this time you really have finished. Have a Pastis on the Promenade
des Anglais and reflect on a truly great cycling adventure.