Just like that, the Tour de France has been and gone. What a race and what an adventure! For us, it’s been one busy month on the road embracing the circus that it is, enjoying every minute of the word’s biggest bike race and it’s never-ending madness. Our super team of staff have worked tirelessly to deliver back-to-back memorable Tour de France experiences to our guests throughout, and we’re walking away exhausted, yet over the moon in what we’ve achieved. Nine unique tours, 228 guests and 19 staff, from the Brussels Grand Depart right through to the final showdown in Paris. Chapeau all!
The final week of this year’s Tour de France proved incredibly exciting as the race hit the Alps and the mightiest of mountain passes awaited. The week was full of surprises as legs began to tire and some of the stars started to fade, while others grasped the opportunity to shine. Unpredictable, as always, the Alps went off with some shocking weather conditions, resulting in quite the bizarre Stage 19 close and an unexpected passing on of the Yellow jersey to the shoulders of Egan Bernal. The young Columbian confirming the Maillot Jaune and proving his worth the following day in the penultimate, shortened 60km stage. From there, it was all about enjoying the final hurrah into the beautiful city of Paris and we were right there to take in every moment.
Continue on to read all about our final week at the Tour de France…
THE FINAL WEEK – From the Alps through to Paris
Our last week on tour was busier than ever as we welcomed three new groups to kick start their Alps experiences. An Alps Pro tour, led by Stuart O’Grady and Matt Goss to take guests right inside the pro tour bubble, onto an Alps Ride experience that had Nick Gates zapping some legs up famous TDF cols, as well as the ZiXing Sports Tour de France group from China; a bespoke tour powered by Mummu Cycling from the Alps through to Paris. Meanwhile, our Best of LeTour crew continued on from their first week in the Pyrenees.
On the opening day of the closing week, it was all about embracing the last Tour rest day. Our Best of Le Tour gang, decided that rest days really are the best days, as they set out for a day of wine tasting from Montpellier and its picturesque vineyard dotted surroundings. Several tastings later, we’d picked up an appetite and sat down to a delicious long lunch, over wine and great company.
Over in Avignon, our Alps Pro and Ride trips were busy getting underway. First stop for the Pro group with Stuey, a visit to the team with the man in Yellow – Deceuninck Quick-Step Cycling Team. As the hottest squad on demand at the Tour at the time, with Julian Alaphilippe still in the lead, we were very lucky to squeeze in a visit. Thank you team and to Stuey for arranging the special pitstop!
While the Pro crew were getting starry eyed, our ‘Ride’ guys and girls were busy preparing for today’s warmup spin led out by Nick Gates and new addition to the team, Drops womens cycling professional cyclist, Lucy Shaw.
The following day, it was all-on as we took to different phases of Stage 16!
Our ZiXing sports group hit the road early to tackle most of the days Stage route, finishing with the ‘D day’ finish line and podium experience to cap off a top day out. A big effort from all in very challenging conditions.
Stuey, Gossy and the Alps gang also hit the finish and podium in Nimes, following a solid ride in from Avignon. Fond memories for both, as this year’s Tour marked six years since both former professionals stood on the top step together following an incredible victory in the TTT with GreenEDGE in Nice.
While they were busy clicking snaps on the podium, our Alps Ride and Best of Le Tour groups were sweating it out in the heat, destination Pont du Gard. On arrival, time to kick back over a bite before seeing the race blitz by. Our Best of crew then setup camp outside the stunning ancient Roman aqueduct to watch the remainder of the stage over a big screen, cold beer in hand. The Alps Ride tour, opting for the less relaxed option, battling it out in the heat by bike back to watch the finale over a beverage at the hotel. Fantastic to see Caleb Ewan take another thrilling sprint victory!
The next morning, we we were up at em’ bright and early – for most of our tours, Mont Ventoux bound! The legendary ascent has delivered many-a spectacular Tour de France summit finish and crowned some very reputable champions at its peak. Although not in this year’s tour, we decided to include it in our itineraries, being a big bucket list climb for many.
The 19km ascent, reaching over 1900m in elevation is relentless from the get-go with its viscous, demanding gradients. Its unique landscape had us traveling from stunning lower vineyard lined surroundings, onto its shaded forest-covered middle slopes, before reaching the final third that left us out in the wide-open, with nothing but the road and the daunting top of the ‘bald mountain’ looming in the distance.
The day’s hot conditions made what was a challenging ride already, even tougher. So to see our guests courageously battle their way up its leg zapping slopes was very impressive and a special day to be out there supporting them on.
From there, we flew down the other side to arrive at the charming town of Vaison-la-Romaine to catch some Stage 17 race action and enjoy a well deserved burger and beer, before hitting the road, Alps bound.
Meanwhile, Stuey and Gossy had their Alps Pro guests on the Pont du Gard Stage 17 start-line raring to go for their ‘Ride Depart’ experience. A very special stage to ride ahead of the race on closed roads, all while enjoying the stunning surroundings of the historic monument.
Our Best of Le Tour spectators also hit the unique Start Village, spending the morning lapping up the pre-race atmosphere, meeting their favourite riders and kicking back over a brew while watching the riders sign on for their 17th day on tour!
From there is was mountains galore and the climbing legs were whipped back out of the bag, all set to conquer the famously tough, lengthy Col du Galibier. Brutal, but with unsurpassed views that only improved throughout the duration of the climb, making every inkling of suffering along the way all the more worth it.
Our Alps Ride guests were out the door early to also tackle the Col du Lautaret as a bit of a ‘warm-up’ climb ahead of the looming 2645m high Galibier. Safe to say, they finished the day’s efforts shattered, yet pretty chuffed with a few more Alps epics ticked off the list and some TDF stage viewing to settle in for following.
Once all groups had summited, we set off to our Stage 18 viewing destinations for the day. Alps Ride and ZiXing sports group set up camp at the prime roadside viewing spot under the shelter of our Mummu marquees, 8km from the summit on the Lautaret corner, where the atmosphere was alive and the mood was high!
While they were busy getting right amongst the thick of the Tour mountain magic, our Alps Pro and Best of Le Tour guests had descended further down to the Relais Etape, where they settled in for an afternoon of delicious food, unlimited beverages and race coverage. All while lapping up the fun, games and festivities of our favourite hospitality zone.
Both fantastic Stage 18 setups that had us all in awe as the pro’s flew up the climb, all guns blazing; the head of the breakaway fighting for the stage victory, the GC contenders going into battle mode for precious seconds and the remnants of the peloton slogging it out weary-eyed to ensure they were in the safety zone ahead of time cut. From there, it was champagne showers as we applauded Nairo Quintana’s impressive solo victory and toasted to another fab day out on tour.
The good times continued to roll for our Mummu on tour crew the following day as our Best of Le Tour and Alps Ride groups came and conquered the iconic Alpe d’Huez and absolutely aced it! As one of the Tour’s most famous, legendary climbs with its 21 hairpin bends and incredible views, we decided this one simply could not go amiss. Big ups to our guests who fought it out to its summit, weary legged but ecstatic to be there and thrilled to check off another bucket list ascent.
Over in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, our Alps Pro guests were busy meeting a few cycling legends, led by their tour hosts and fellow cycling stars, Stuart O’Grady and Matt Goss. Cheers guys for teeing up a chat with Bradley Wiggins – very special to meet one of cycling’s greatest! The list didn’t end there, with words from Simon Clarke, Andy Schleck and Daryl Impey to follow. Thank you all for taking the time out of your schedules pre-stage.
Following some time lapping up the departure village, they set out to tackle the challenging Col de la Madeleine in fiery conditions. Another Alps favourite, commonly described as ‘beautiful but heartbreaking’. A battle for our guests, no doubt. Well done all for toughing out yet another epic!
The extreme heat, soon quickly took a turn, as we transferred closer to the Tour de France action and watched wide-eyed as the drama unfolded on Stage 19. A very bizarre contrast in weather extremes…Oh the Alps! Safe to say, the TDF 2019 has been well and truly full of surprises.
From there, most of our tours set to the penultimate Stage 20 start in Albertville to enjoy one of the final Stage starts and enjoy the buzzing atmosphere, before kicking back to watch what was a short, but very entertaining final mountain stage that saw an impressive Vincenzo Nibali overpower the rest, to claim honours. Our Alps tours, went on to enjoy their final group toasts to close out a huge week in the mountains, while our Best of Le Tour and ZiXing sports group, set off via coach transfer for the grand finale!
Finally, we made it to Paris, welcoming our Paris ‘weekender’ guests to join us in seeing Stage 21 live along the iconic Champs-Elysées. To start the morning right, we ditched the road bikes for the townies and hit the streets of the spectacular Paris on a city bike tour.
Soon enough, it was go-time and we were there, located right in the thick of the action, on the final stretch to the line where we were able to witness firsthand the thrill and beauty combined of the Tour de France’s traditional closing stage. How incredible to then see young Aussie sprint sensation, Caleb Ewan take a sensational third stage win in a fighting dash to the line. Toasts all-round followed to cheers to an amazing evening, and one very memorable Tour de France adventure!
We’re now heading home, exhausted yet satisfied and incredibly proud of what we’ve delivered at this year’s Tour. A BIG thank you to our dedicated, incredibly hard-working team of staff on the ground and back in the office, and of course, to our many guests who arrived and left smiling, making our jobs a whole lot easier and enjoyable along the way!
Interested in joining us in 2020? Reserve your spot on tour, here.