What's Cool In Road Cycling

Vacations: See Le Tour De France With Your Own Legs

There’s a lot of great racing still ahead this Spring, but the one race most of us really want to see is the Tour. I just received this info pack from Experience Plus Tours, who offer fully supported vacations following the Tour de France through the Alps and Pyrenees. Here’s a closer look at their Alps Package…

Dear Richard,

Grenoble is home to us for four nights as we follow the historic 2003 Tour de France for three days through the Alps and the pre-Alps. Then we’ll follow the route of the Tour for three more days as we experience pedaling the actual passes through the high Alps.

Imagine the setting of Grenoble: it sits in one of the deepest glaciated valleys in Europe where mile-high glaciers swept out of the Alps four times over the last 2 million years. The valley now carries the Isere River and divides France’s pre-Alps from the taller Alps to the east. When we get up in the morning to the north and west we see the 6500 foot pre-Alpine Chartreuse Massif and to the east, the 9500 foot Alpine chain of the Belledonne! During our stay in Grenoble we’ll be able to pedal through both of these mountain ranges.

We’ll gather in Grenoble Friday, July 11th, prepare and fit bikes, and get ready for our first “chase” on Saturday the 12th. This will be the seventh stage of the Tour and the first real mountain stage as the race leaves the flat Rhone River valley in Lyon and heads to Morzine, high in the Alps. We shuttle north this morning and ride to intersect the tour route where we’ll set up to watch the race early in the afternoon. We’ll plan on bread, cheese and fruit for a picnic lunch as we get in position for some photos! After the race passes we’ll pedal south on a long ride through the pre-Alps. Richard, there’s no better way to beat jet lag than a good ride the first day or two after a trans-Atlantic flight!

Yes – you can ride the famed Aple d’Huez at this year’s Tour!
Image Source: www.letour.com

Stage 8 is a “real” mountain stage and it ends with the classic 14 km. climb to the village of Alpe d’Huez. We shuttle again then pedal up a part of the Alpe d’Huez climb to find the best vantage point. We’ll be stopping often, though, in cafes along the way to watch the race on TV as the lead riders (Lance?) head up and over the Col du Telegraphe and the Col du Galibier. When the leaders head up the climb to Alpe d’Huez, we’ll be there!

When stage 9 leaves Bourg d’Oisans on Bastille Day, we’ll be there without bikes to get some photos. Then we’ll grab our bikes and those who want will be able to pedal the entire Alpe d’Huez climb without the crowds or congestion we experienced yesterday. How will your time compare!? If you want, we’ll pedal back to Grenoble this afternoon, while those who prefer an easier day can shuttle.

The next three days we’ll enjoy the glorious scenery of riding through the Alps along the passes that the tour follows during this same time – Telegraphe, Galibier, Lauteret, Izoard, and more. We’ll take our lunch breaks in cafes along the way to watch the progress of the Tour and we’ll watch the finish daily with the French in our hotels or nearby cafes. Pedal hard or take it easy, the choice is yours.

This is going to be a great trip, Richard. When you get home you’ll be able to say you saw the leaders sprint to the finish at Alpe d’Huez, the day the 2003 Tour de France was decided! Take care.

Rick Price
President and Founder

For more information, call 800-685-4565 and request an 88-page, full color catalog, or visit them online at ExperiencePlus.com. Either way, you’ll get information and itineraries for over 35 tours in nine countries. With over 100 departures in 2003, you’re sure to find a tour, and a time, that fits your schedule.

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