Tour de France — Fame, Legend and Celebration - TBT - Insider. The Thomson Bike Tours Blog

Cycling is a sport like no other, where looking good can be as important as being good. As poet and writer paul Fournel so astutely observed: “You have to look good when you are riding, you have to impress your adversary with your elegance. To look good is already to go fast.”

What could be more elegant than the famous Maillot Jaune, the leader’s jersey in the most famous race on Earth. The Tour de France celebrates 100 years of the famous yellow jersey this year and is marking the occasion with a route that might favour contenders for it’s other famous maillot – the KOM polka dot jersey. “To win you’ll need to be a climber, clearly” said Tour Director Christian Prudhomme at the unveiling of the route. Adding that to be really in contention you’ll have to back that ability up with incredible descending skills.

Ironically, the winner of the first KOM competition in 1933 was a terrible descender which was the very motivation for the special classification. Vicente Trueba may have ascended many of the 16 mountains first that year, but he certainly didn’t hold his position by the bottom each time. With several technical descents planned for 2019’s edition of the Tour de France, Trueba would not be among the favourites this year.

Tour de France - Portet

Opportunity Knocks in 2019

With a Grand Depart in Belgium, home of five time winner Eddy Merckx – who celebrates 50 years this year since his first ever Tour win – the race couldn’t begin much flatter. With five medium mountain stages and seven mountain stages proper that trend won’t last very long. A total of seven mountain passes top out over 2,000m, so altitude will play a part. Could we see a return to form of Nairo Quintana, the Colombian lives and trains at altitude all year round and could do with a change in fortunes.

With monster climbs like the Col d’Izoard, the Col du Galibier, and the 2,770m-high Col d’Iseran included this year, it’s a feast of climbing and one that might leave the sprinters wincing at the prospect. Although Mark Cavendish thinks it might be slightly easier than last year: “there’s loads more climbing but there’s a better opportunity to get to Paris”. The Manxman is looking to equal Eddy Merckx’s legendary stage win total, needing four stages to do so. He’ll be hoping for results in the first week to get him going, but he knows there are opportunities in each of the three weeks – notably in Chalon-sur-Saône, Toulouse, Nîmes and on the iconic Champs-Élysées should he make it to Paris.

Col du Tourmalet at the Tour de France

KOM — Won and Lost in the Mountains

Without doubt, this year is a KOM challenge – La Grand Boucle is undeniably made for the climbers, something that we at Thomson whole-heartedly approve of! The summit finish on the steep and unpaved La Planche des Belles Filles is particularly mouth-watering but with the Massif Central, Pyrenees and Alps all included there’s plenty of opportunity for us to follow the race where we love it the most. Upwards!

Thomson trips are famed for the challenge of the riding and the unparalleled access to the Tour de France. As the number one official premium Tour de France operator we can offer you unprecedented opportunity to watch the race, ride the route and get close to the action. For us, it’s all about the riding and the challenge of the climbs so whilst you’ll enjoy VIP viewing you can choose between three daily rides in each of our KOM challenge trips.

Climbing Col du Tourmalet

2019 Tour de France KOM Cycling Challenges

Our KOM Challenges provide the perfect mix of live race-viewing and challenging and rewarding rides on the legendary routes and climbs of the Tour de France. We have very limited spaces left on our incredible trips, your ticket to an unrivalled Tour de France experience.

With VIP access to the Departure Village at stage start and the VIP Tribune at stage finish you won’t get closer to the race. Experience the buzz of excitement as the riders prepare for the long day ahead and witness them finish, exhausted and triumphant at the conclusion. But it’s not all about start and finish gates, our Private Hospitality Marquees, strategically placed on the key climbs get you close to where the action is at its hottest. Stay entertained with food, drinks, and satellite TV race coverage as we wait for the peloton to approach.

We all love the legendary climbs of the Tour and with legendary climbs like Alpe d’HuezGalibierCroix de FerTourmaletAspinPort de Bales and more awaiting you can be sure to tick off many famous mountains. Recovering comes in our top hotels, including a 15th Century Château and the number one hotel in Alpe d’Huez. Combine this unique experience with the incredible support of our expert support crew for a trip you’ll want to repeat again and again.

Col du Portet

Three fully supported ride levels

We offer 3 fully supported rides each day – from 20km to 130km – to ensure you’ll find the ride that matches your personal fitness level. Check out our Sport, Performance and Extreme ride programs.

(during the trip, you may choose a different ride level each day – you don’t have to stick with the same ride level for the entire trip)


Tour de France KOM Challenge – Pyrenees Stages

Conquer the famous Col du Tourmalet and be there to witness the race LIVE on the mountainside from the comfort of our Private Hospitality Marquee. Our exciting program features a full week of famous climbs, challenging rides and thrilling race-viewing.

Stage 12: Access to the VIP Tribune at the Finish Line in Bagneres de Bigorre

Stage 12: VIP ride across the Finish Line & Podium photos in Bagneres de Bigorre

Stage 13: Access to the VIP Departure Village at the Stage Start in Pau (Individual Time Trial)

Stage 14: Access to our Private Race-Viewing Hospitality Marquee on the Col du Tourmalet Summit Finish

Learn more


Tour de France KOM Challenge – Alps Stages

Conquer Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Col de L’Iseran and Col de la Croix de Fer and many more famous Alpine climbs. Our exciting program features a full week of famous rides and thrilling race-viewing.

Stage 18: Access to the VIP Tribune at the Finish Line in Valloire

Stage 18: VIP ride across the Finish Line and Podium photos in Valloire

Stage 19: Access to our Private Race-Viewing Hospitality Marquee (Col de L’Iseran)

Stage 20: Access to the VIP Departure Village in Albertville

Learn more


Tour de France KOM Challenge – Alps Stages & Paris

Conquer Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Col de L’Iseran and Col de la Croix de Fer and many more famous Alpine climbs. Our exciting program features a full week of famous rides and thrilling race-viewing, and continues to Paris to witness the grand finale on the Champs-Elysees.

Stage 18: Access to the VIP Tribune at the Finish Line in Valloire

Stage 18: VIP ride across the Finish Line and Podium photos in Valloire

Stage 19: Access to our Private Race-Viewing Hospitality Marquee (Col de L’Iseran)

Stage 20: Access to the VIP Departure Village in Albertville

Stage 21: Access to the Elysée Tribune at the Finish Line in Paris

Learn more


Alpe d'Huez podium

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