Week two for Mummu Cycling at the Tour de France on our Alpe d’Huez Explorer experience was nothing short of exceptional and we certainly left the Alps with some great memories and tales to tell.
We kick started the week in Annecy on the first Tour de France rest day, greeting our guests and stopping off on route to our accommodation at the Dimension Data hotel right on the lake front. We were welcomed warmly by the team staff and had the pleasure of chatting with Mark Renshaw on all things Tour de France and his experiences as one of the best lead out men in the world, being Mark Cavendish’s right hand man. Also, fantastic to get some behind the scenes insight from the team mechanic, directors and even the team chef who works tirelessly all Tour to prepare the best nutrition for the riders throughout the race. Fueling a full team of hungry, professional cyclists can’t be easy and to do it day-in-day out all from a food truck for three weeks is very impressive! All this, definitely made us more aware of the ‘team behind the team’s’ commitment to the final result, as well as the riders themselves.
From there, it was up and only up to our chalet where we would be enjoying some ‘mountain life’ for a few evenings, as well as a bit of climbing to test out the legs! Following a warm up spin and a little taste of the hills, we enjoyed visits from a few of Stuey’s ‘mates’ that evening, including Jens Voigt, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. What a start to the week!
The next morning we were up and at em’ nice and early to make it to the start line for the professional women’s La Course departure. Fantastic to see the women roll out and show our support. In the end, proving to be a very successful event with exciting, aggressive racing and a battle to the line with World TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten eventually clawing her way past Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen to take the win. All in all, a fantastic display to showcase women’s racing and we were pleased to have been a part of it.
It was then time to chill out in the official Tour de France Race Village and take it all in over a coffee and a croissant as we watched the piles of team buses roll in and riders stroll through the village in cruise mode ahead of the stage – some more relaxed than others as the first official mountain stage loomed. We then had Stuey and Baden Cooke guide us through the teams introducing us to friends of the peloton and getting right up close and personal to our favourite riders. Hard to beat being led through the teams by two former legends of the Tour de France – there were certainly some friendly shout out’s and chats along the way from riders and team staff.
Following the race depart, we set off on bikes in hot pursuit of the race, conquering a climb or two along the way. Highlight of the ride was tackling the testing Col de la Croix Fry and getting a real taste of the Alps and the challenges that lay ahead!
Day 3 for us was a special one as we really became part of the Tour de France circus, joining the offical race caravan ahead of the Stage 11 depart in Albertville. As an official Tour de France Alps operator, this is one of the very best experiences we can offer and provides the perfect opportunity to truly feel like you’re part of the race. We rode through the start line – the crowds already going wild, clapping and chanting for the Mummu peloton. We then rode the first part of the stage on closed roads, lined with official TdF banners and excited spectators all set for the Stage ahead -almost every person cheering us on as we rode by grinning from ear to ear!
We eventually concluded our ride at our lunch stop for the day and set up roadside to kick back and await the race to roll by as Stuey and Baden gave us some live commentary on Stage predictions and team tactics. Very insightful and all up a fantastic day out on Tour.
Day 4 was all about the big one – the iconic Alpe d’Huez. We were on the road nice and early, our guests a bundle of excitement and nerves as they knew the challenge that lay ahead. Any hesitation or feelings of doubt were eliminated, however as soon we hit the base of the climb and were joined by countless other riders of all shapes, ages and sizes as well as the odd superhero, all sharing that same love and passion for the Tour de France – It was truly incredible to be part of the Alpe d’Huez madness and only more motivating being in the thick of the atmosphere to tackle the climb and reach the summit!
Stu and Baden led the pack and following a few snaps at the top and a moment to take it all in, they were off to chat with the SBS TV crew ahead of the challenging mountain stage that approached. Very cool to have the guys up there representing Mummu Cycling at the biggest race of the year and on the most iconic mountain in cycling. To say we were thrilled is an understatement. Thank you to everyone for tuning in!
From there, it was all about soaking up the crazy atmosphere and getting right in amongst the chaos as we set up camp not far from the ever-popular ‘Dutch Corner’ where entertainment was certainly at its peak.
When the race eventually flew by, we caught all the heart of the action from the GC contenders attacking one another, to the absolutely spent domestiques contesting the ‘race within the race’ just to make time cut. Crazy to see how quickly even the guys struggling at the back were going and even more respect having also ridden up there just hours earlier, now with a better understanding of the toughness and brutality of the climb.
Next up, we were off to Grenoble to settle in for the rest of our trip. To mix it up a little and give our guests a break from the mountains, the next day we set off along the Stage 16 route riding the final 50km ahead of the expected sprint stage. We had beautiful rolling French roads to start, followed by a very quick final run in to the finish. Baden led out the group and as we cruised the final 10km at 45km per hour we became confident pretty quickly that the Stage would be a fast one!
Following the ride we got spruced up and ready to hit the official Tour de France, VIP Relais Etape just 1km from the finish – where prime viewing, delicious French champagne and a a five course meal awaited. What a way to sit back, watch the race and discuss predictions as we watched the stage unfold over the roads we had just ridden, eventually proving to be another exciting finale with Sagan storming to victory in a tight and chaotic bunch sprint.
To conclude a fantastic week, we rounded out the trip with a day solely focused on riding and releasing any last bits of energy out in the Alps. A few guests had a little left in the tank, so when we hit the Galibier, the pack in tow behind Stu it was all-go. Safe to say, by the 15km mark everyone was in the hurt box. Conditions were tough as we experienced our first drops of rain and temperatures began to drop rapidly as we neared the summit of the epic 25km climb. This was the reality of the Alps and we were experiencing it! The Mummu crew battled through, however and arrived at the top exhausted, depleted but ecstatic to be up there. Another big climb ticked off the bucket list and some serious satisfaction to go home with. Word of the day – EPIC!
To end on a real high, we enjoyed a farewell dinner up a local Grenoble mountain to enjoy some stunning views and sunset over a delicious meal and great company as we shared highlights of the week, discussed adventures to come and ways to stay in touch.
Thank you to everyone who was part of our incredible week at the Tour de France in the Alps – it was truly awesome!
Join us in 2019 for another unforgettable Tour de France experience. Trip details can be found, here.