Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture by Thomson Bike Tours

Thomson Tales

The Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture

The Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture

For cycling enthusiasts who thrive on the storytelling of racing and the allure of legendary routes, a cycling holiday to iconic destinations offers the ultimate adventure

Imagine cruising along the same serpentine roads that have tested the mettle of Tour de France champions, tracing the historic paths of the Giro d'Italia or battling the pavé of the Spring Classics. These destinations immerse you in the rich tapestry of cycling history and culture, where racing folklore punctuates every corner and the echo of cheering fans reverberates between mountain peaks.

For cycling enthusiasts who thrive on the storytelling of racing and the allure of legendary routes, a cycling holiday to iconic destinations offers the ultimate adventure. Whether simply riding in the tire tracks of the heroes of yesterday, or witnessing today’s races first hand, our trips offer the perfect opportunity to experience the Best Destinations for Race Culture. From the storied peaks of the Tour to the epic switchbacks of the Giro and the impossibly steep bergs of the Classics. If you like the world of racing, you’ll love these trips.

Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture by Thomson Bike Tours


Known as the greatest race on earth, La Grand Boucle is the ultimate trip for lovers of racing. This rolling show captivates not only France, but the world, for three weeks every July. Typically taking in the Alps and Pyrenees but also often the Vosges, Juras, Massif Central and more as the race route weaves its way around France and elsewhere for 21 thrilling stages.

As the Number One Official Premium Tour Operator to the Tour de France, we offer privileged VIP access to the race, including mingling with the teams at Stage Starts and Finishes, winner’s podium photoshoots, riding on the race route and crossing the line hours before the race itself. Not only do we ride the best climbs, we take on the best of each year’s roads before taking the best seats in the house at the roadside to watch how the pros do it. You can’t get closer to the race without joining a pro team!

Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture by Thomson Bike Tours


Winding, narrow farm roads and steep cobbled bergs could only mean one thing; Spring Classics. Throughout most of the year, these incongruous roads see little traffic, save the busying of tractors and delivery vans and the occasional local on a Dutch bike. Even in these dormant conditions the smooth but harsh pavé that lay on 15%+ gradients are an alluring sight to a cycling fan. The scene of many a famous one day race, where Classics hardmen and women have battled the elements and the parcours to triumph in front of passionate and vocal fans, flushed from the wind and emboldened by strong Belgian beers and mayo covered frites.

Our annual pilgrimage to the Spring Classics is thrilling opportunity to ride on the most famous sections of the best races of the season including the iconic Tour of Flanders Gran Fondo. After watching the pros in action in the Tour of Flanders, we then spend the next four days riding the final 100 km (62 miles) of Gent-Wevelgem, then each of the Ardennes Classics: Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Amstel Gold and La Flèche Wallonne, before returning to Roubaix.

Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture by Thomson Bike Tours


The mountains of the Alps are embedded into the history of the most famous races on earth, a playground for cyclists.These huge peaks are harsh and rugged, giant and imposing but the rewards are rich; accomplishment, unforgettable views and – of course - thrilling descents. When Tom Pidcock bagged his first ever Tour de France win he said “To ride up Alpe d’Huez, the most iconic finish in cycling, at the head of the race, that’s one of the best experiences of my life.” Even when the race isn’t in town an aura pervades the Alps. Road graffiti remains where motorhomes don’t, but the echoes of races past ring around the mountains. The unseen atmosphere gives the Alps an X Factor that you can’t put your finger on. The history of battles, of pros and amateurs tackling these monster climbs, spurs you on. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s possible. There’s no greater inspiration.

We’ve prepared two awe-inspiring challenges that will test your limits and introduce you to the majesty and wonder of racing’s most celebrated terrain.

Best Cycling Destinations for Race Culture by Thomson Bike Tours


Forever entwined with the story of the Tour de France, the Pyrenees have been the backdrop for some of the most dramatic and memorable moments in racing. Featuring legendary climbs like the Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aubisque Col de Peyresourde and so many more. For cycling enthusiasts, riding these iconic routes offers a chance to test their limits on the same challenging ascents that have humbled even the greatest champions. Additionally, the Pyrenees provide a unique blend of French and Spanish cultures, offering a rich tapestry of local traditions, cuisine, and hospitality. The stunning scenery, from lush valleys to rugged peaks, combined with the region's deep cycling heritage, creates an immersive and inspiring environment for any cycling holiday.

Our Trans and Epic trans trip start in the heart of the French Pyrenees, where you’ll conquer the most iconic climbs as we cross the Pyrenees from east to west. Several magnificent climbs await on the Spanish side too, making this one of the most exciting locations for any cyclist.


The mystique of Italy’s high mountains has an eternal pull, drawing us in to explore the twisting ribbons of roads that wrap their jagged and imposing forms. Famous for painters and artists, Italy has produced many spectacular landscapes. The Dolomites have been the home to cycling for over a century, made famous by the greatest races on earth. The land that brought us Michaelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus also brought us both Fausto Coppi and his timeless Persol sunglasses. Where else does art and life join so seamlessly – beauty, style and panache were seemingly born in Italy. So many cycling campionissimi were crafted here; Bartali, Coppi, Gimondi, Moser and Pantani are legends of the sport. Without them we wouldn’t have the sport we do today where style and flair are as important as technical ability and fitness. Much like racing cars, coffee machines and scooters – if it’s Italian, it’s cool.

Our Trans and Epic Trans Dolomites trips take on the roads made famous by the Giro d’Italia. Tthe Stelvio, the Gavia, and the Mortirolo are just a few of the legendary climbs youcross the Italian Alps and Dolomites. Our newly designed route concludes with the infamous Monte Zoncolan. Starting under a banner that reads “Welcome to the Gates of Hell”, the Zoncolan, along with the Angliru in Spain, is widely considered the most difficult climb of the Grand Tours.