Adventure Partners Transalp Cycling vol 10 – Isere24
10 years after the first official Transalp Cycling, it is time to get back to real classic climbs. This time, we’ll move around the Savoie and Isere departments in France between the 7th and 15th of September 2024. During the trip, we’ll visit Aix-les-Bains (2 nights), Albertville (1), Brides-les-Bains (1), Bourg-Saint-Maurice (1), Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, and Bourg d’Oisans. The total distance for 7 riding days will be 743 km, containing 17,662 vertical meters. There are several options available for daily routes.
Aix-les-Bains is located on the shores of Lake Le-Bourget in the Savoie region. The city’s history dates back to Roman times and is known as a spa town. Cycling has also played a significant role in the city’s history. The Tour de France stage has ended here 12 times, and the Criterium du Dauphine has visited 18 times.
The highest mountains in the Alps are not right nearby, but there are great roads in the vicinity. The primary destination on the first day is Col du Grand Colombier. Grand Colombier has been climbed in the Tour de France four times, one of which follows our route from Culoz. You can warm up your legs on the first climb of the day at Mont du Chat, which Simon Warren has given a rating of 10/10. Mont du Chat rises from Le Bourget Lake and offers pleasant scenery along with a reasonable gradient. An alternative is to ride along the western shore of the lake to the north without the ascent of Mont du Chat.
On the second day, we move on to Albertville. On the way, we explore the Massif de Bauges natural park, known for its caves. The day includes a few significant and several smaller climbs. Of these, Col du Prés has appeared in the Tour twice. The other ascents of the day are not familiar from the Tour. From the Isere valley, we climb up to Col de Champ-Laurent and further towards Col du Grand Cucheron. On the way to Albertville, it is still possible to detour through Montée Bonvillard.
Albertville is known for the 1992 Winter Olympics. That year was the last when the Winter and Summer Games were in the same year. On the Tour de France, Albertville has often been the starting point for a stage. This has happened at least in 2019, 2022, and 2023.
Our journey continues towards the spa town of Brides-les-Bains. There are several route options again. The basic route follows the Isère River to Moutiers, where we follow the Doron de Bozel riverbed to Brides-les-Bains. However, we don’t head straight to the hotel but go around via Col de la Loze.
Col de la Loze was paved in 2019. The summit crossing is closed to motor traffic. The Tour de France has visited here twice since, in 2020 and 2023. The latter is remembered by many when Tadej Pogacar lost the race on the climb.
We climb up through Meribel, the same route used in the Tour. The return takes place via Courchevel.
There are several options for the day. From Albertville, you can head to the Maurienne valley and follow the Arc River to La Chambre. From there, climb over the legendary Col de la Madeleine into the Isère valley and towards Brides-les-Bains. If you ride both Madeleine and Loze, you’ll gain over 4000 meters of climbing in one day.
For many, three valleys have become known for winter sports. Brides-les-Bains is a small town at the intersection of these valleys. In the summer, the surroundings offer a lot of enjoyable riding. With plenty of climbs still to tackle, we continue our journey the very next day towards Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
We return to Moutiers, from where the journey continues again upstream along the Isère River. Fairly quickly, we detour up Notre Dame du Prelle, which was used on the Tour in 2023. We rode the same road also on the 2014 trip. Presumably, the road has been repaved since 2014 when riding through Notre Dame du Prelle required extreme caution.
Bourg-Saint-Maurice is about 40 km away, so there is still plenty of time to ride as a side trip to either Col du Petit Saint Bernard, Cormet de Roselend, or both.
On the fifth day, we reach the source of the Isère River. Our route takes us towards Val d’Isère and then over Col d’Iseran towards the Maurienne valley. Col d’Iseran is the highest point on our route, at 2770 m, and one of the highest paved passes in Europe. The climb is 47 km long and involves over 2000 vertical meters. If this doesn’t seem enough, you can also ride to Mont Cenis on the descent. The day’s route ends in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne.
In Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, we are Dealing with substantial issues. When the Tour de France passes through the town, it’s almost always when there’s either Col d’Iseran, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col de la Madeleine, or Col du Galibier on the itinerary. Each of these evokes strong emotions in cycling enthusiasts.
Our route takes us over Col du Galibier. Before that, we first climb Col du Télégraphe and descend to Valloire, where we take on the giant. After crossing the summit, we descend 8 km and turn right towards Le Bourg d’Oisans.
If Galibier has become familiar from previous trips, there are several alternative routes. The longest of these is to climb up via Col du Chaussy Lacets de Monvernier and descend to La Chambre, from where we climb up to Col du Glandon before descending into the Oisans valley. A great option is also Col du Mollard and Col de la Croix de Fer.
Le Bourg-d’Oisans 13.9-15.9
The 21 hairpin bends of Alpe-d’Huez have surely become familiar through television. On the last riding day, they will also become familiar in real life. There are plenty of other climbs in the Oisans valley. One of these is Col de Sarenne, which we approach from the summit of Alpe d’Huez. From the descent of Sarenne, we turn right and ride back to the Huez ascent along a truly beautiful balcony. We revisit a few hairpins and loop back to Le Bourg-d’Oisans via the Allemond dam and the village.
If Alpe-d’Huez has become familiar from previous trips, the route can also be ridden in the opposite direction, in which case you will climb up Col de Sarenne. Additional climbing meters can be found via Collet de Vaujany. There are plenty of other climbs nearby, such as Les Deux Alpes, Col d’Ornon, Col du Solude (gravel tires may be necessary), La Berarde, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions Who is this trip suitable for?
The trip is suitable for all cycling enthusiasts, from hobbyists to competitive riders. Usually, there are two different route options planned for each day, and participants can make deviations based on their preferences.
How much should one train?
It is difficult to determine the exact amount of training needed. The most important thing is to have a good aerobic fitness so that you can ride for several consecutive days. If your aerobic fitness comes from a sport other than cycling, it’s a good idea to do some longer rides (120-150 km) before the trip to get a feel for spending a long day in the saddle. If there’s one thing to pay attention to, it’s the quality of your training and nutrition.
What should one pay attention to in terms of equipment and gear?
The routes are planned to be on paved roads, with a few exceptions. Therefore, a standard road bike or gravel bike is suitable. The longest climbs are about 30 km, and they involve less than 2000 meters of climbing. In such climbs, maintaining a high cadence helps, and lighter gear ratios can assist with that. Many people nowadays have compact chainsets (50/34) in the front and a cassette with an 11-32 range in the rear. It can get quite cold at the top of climbs. While climbing, you may not feel the cold, but it’s a different story when descending. Full-fingered gloves, leg warmers, arm warmers, and a windproof jacket are necessary. The weather has generally been favorable, but it’s not something one can rely on completely, so it’s wise to bring rain gear as well. A more detailed list of gear will be provided well in advance of the trip.
What is the daily schedule on the trip?
The journey starts after breakfast, around 8:30-9:30 am, and participants arrive at the hotel around 4:00-5:00 pm. Breaks are taken as needed. Flat sections, if any, are generally ridden as a group. Climbs and descents are done at your own pace. Breaks are taken as needed, Dinner typically starts at 7:30 pm. During dinner, the program for the following day is discussed.
How do the support vehicles work?
There are two support vehicles on the trip. Both support vehicles carry some tools, spare tires, and other essentials. At the start of the journey, each participant is provided with a plastic box. Participants pack their own supplies, clothes, and food into this box and deliver it to the vehicle following their chosen route. Support vehicles follow behind during climbs and then wait at the top. Therefore, participants do not need to carry extra food and clothing on their bikes, which would add extra weight.
How are the bikes transported to the destination?
The second support vehicle departs from Helsinki in the week preceding the trip. Accompanied by a dedicated trailer, it ensures the bikes are transported safely and on schedule to the destination.. Bikes should be packed in bike transport cases, and a recommended case is the so-called “soft” one. Additionally, for your flexibility, you can opt to transport your bike by plane to the destination..
How can one best get to the destination?
The nearest airports are Lyon, Grenoble, and Geneva.
- Trip: €2100 (Early Bird before December 31, 2023: €1900)
- Including accommodations, meals at hotels (breakfast, dinner), support vehicle services
- 1 Adventure Partners cycling jersey included, additional jerseys for €50 each
- Bike bag transport: €100 per bag
Top of Form
Booking fee 500 € is paid with the reservation and the rest will be invoiced one month before the trip
|1||Aix-les-Bains||128||2949||Mont Chat, Grand Colombier|
|2||Aix-les-Bains||Albertville||137||2643||des Pres, Champ-Laurent|
|3||Albertville||Brides-les-Bains||83||2233||de la Loze|
|4||Brides-les-Bains||Bourg-Saint-Maurice||106||2484||Notre Dame du Pre, Petit Saint Bernard|
|6||Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne||Le Bourg–dOisans||83||2414||Télégraphe, Galibier|
|7||Le Bourg–dOisans||84||2575||Alpe d’Huez, Sarenne|
|2||Aix-les-Bains||Albertville||141||3099||des Pres, Champ-Laurent, Bonvillard|
|3||Albertville||Brides-les-Bains||160||4092||Bonvillard, Madeleine, de la Loze|
|4||Brides-les-Bains||Bourg-Saint-Maurice||144||3700||Notre Dame du Pre, Petit Saint Bernard,
Cormet de Roselend
|5||Bourg-Saint-Maurice||Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne||140||3138||Iseran, Mont Cenis|
|6||Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne||Le Bourg–dOisans||90||2303||Croix de Fer|
|6||Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne||Le Bourg–dOisans||112||3093||Lacets de Montvernier, Chaussy, Glandon|
|7||Le Bourg–dOisans||93||2883||Sarenne, Vaujany|
|Day||Name of the Climb||Length (km)||Verticals (m)||Avg %||TdF Count|
|1||Mont du Chat||14,3||1266||8,9||2|
|1||Col du Grand Colombier||18,3||1255||6,9||4|
|2||Col des Prés||18,5||865||4,7||2|
|2||Col de Champ-Laurent||9,8||806||8,2||0|
|2||Col du Grand Cucheron||4||314||7,8||0|
|3||Col de la Loze||23,4||1715||7,3||2|
|4||Notre Dame du Pre||8,9||733||7,9||1|
|4||Col du Petit Saint Bernard||31,0||1373||4,4||4|
|5||Col de l’Iseran||48||1955||4,1||8|
|6||Col du Télégraphe||11,8||856||7,3||15|
|6||Col du Galibier||18,1||1241||6,9||37|