Thomson Tales

The Grand Depart

Sitting proudly on the French Riviera, looking out to the Mediterranean, nestled at the foot of the Alps, lies Nice.

The Grand Depart

Sitting proudly on the French Riviera, looking out to the Mediterranean, nestled at the foot of the Alps, lies Nice. We'll be there to see the 2020 Tour de France Grand Depart kick off, will you be joining us?

In the coming days we'll be publishing our full itinerary for the cycling and spectator trips to the 2020 Tour de France, with trips running to the Grand Depart in Nice, the Pyrenees, Alps and the race's conclusion in Paris. The full route, announced a week ago, is clearly designed with aggressive racing in mind and ideally suited to France's Julian Alaphilippe. We're looking forward to some challenging riding of our own, so we thought we'd share some early highlights with you to whet the appetite.

Nice to See You

We've known for some time that the first two stages will be based around Nice itself, with a sprinter's stage to kick things off and then straight into high mountain passes the following day. We'll be based in a hotel on the Promenade des Anglais, just metres from the finish line, with five incredible rides including Col d'Eze, Col de la Madone, Col de Turini and the epic Mont Ventoux. From all three sides! The famous Ventoux challenge alone is enough to spark the imagination, but we thought we'd introduce you to some lesser known climbs that both we and the pro's will take on.

Col de Turini

Whilst a sprinter may well hold the Yellow Jersey following a likely bunch sprint on Stage 1, the following day will be quite different. The peloton will take on the Col de la Colmiane before facing the Col de Turini and eventually the Col d’Eze. This  mountainous stage has two passages at over 1,500m – an incredibly tough start to a Tour.

The Cols de la Colmiane and Turini will be on our menu too, with the latter a sight to behold. Featuring every year in the Monte Carlo rally, the sinuous switchbacks take you up 1,607m with 15km at an average of 7.4%. This little known climb has featured three times in the Tour in 1948, 1950 and 1973 although most recently figured in this year's Paris-Nice.

Check out this drone footage from Café du Cycliste and see if you can count the hairpins!

Col d’Eze

The final Col of stage 2 is the 7.8km Col d'Eze, one of the most iconic climbs in the Alpes-Maritimes. Averaging around 6%, the climb is much tougher than it sounds with ramps of 10% in places. The reward is one of the most stunning views of Nice and the Mediterranean beyond. The winding road, olive trees and ubiquitous stone wall are classic Côte d’Azur but you might have other things on your mind, whilst this is the final climbs for the pro's it's the first of the day for us. Once you have conquered Col d'Eze you will have the pleasure of ticking off the Col de la Madone, Col de Nice and Col de Chateauneuf. Something to raise a glass to when the day is done!

Mont Ventoux

It may not be on the cards for the race, but we couldn't be so close to the famous climb without going up. And if we're going up, we may as well do all three sides!  There are three roads up the Giant of Provence; Bédoin, Malaucène and Sault – each one difficult and rewarding in equal measure. Measuring around 20km and climbing over 1,600m, this truly is a feat of cycling endurance. In 1988 the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux was formed for those willing to accept the challenge of climbing each of these roads in the same day.

Just the beginning

The first week of Thomson Bike Tours's 2020 Tour de France trips is shaping up to be an unmissable experience. With the Pyrenees and Alps to follow, there's something for everyone. Sign up to our newsletter to hear when the full itineraries are released, read our website for more information and sign up for your Advanced Reservation before it's too late!

Vive le Tour!