100 cols, 10 days – a unique journey that tests and builds the body and spirit in equal measure.
Gentler gradients, but hot temperatures will suit a relaxed riding pace. Ride through stunning scenery in one of France’s most underrated cycling destinations. This is one of three Cent Cols that will be collectively ridden at a slower average pace of 18 km/h.
The Cent Cols Challenge is the brainchild of endurance rider Phil Deeker: his determination, commitment to riding and will to explore has created one of the ultimate tests of what is possible on a road bike. Cent Cols Challenges take place across Europe, criss-crossing entire mountain ranges to combine the classic routes and climbs from the Grand Tours with lesser-known backcountry gems.
Flights, bike hire and travel insurance are not included.
Because of the distances, and the huge physical and psychological challenge, the Cent Cols are for the strongest and most experienced riders. On most days riders should expect at least 8-10 hours in the saddle, and to be self-sufficient for long periods of time. The remoteness of the terrain also means that accommodation and food are less luxurious than on Rapha’s other trips. However, Phil Deeker and the Rapha team of guides, mechanics and soigneurs take care of all logistics and everything riders need, letting you focus your mind and legs on the cols. It is usual that some riders don’t complete the parcours. But, thanks to the stunning settings and the camaraderie, and possibly to reserves they didn’t know they had, riders often find they rise to the demands of the trip and take their riding to a new level.
Double occupancy as standard
|Arrival day Meet us at the first night accomodation|
|Day 1 Montpellier - Florac||207 KM||4,400 M|
|Day 2 Florac - Aurillac||203 KM||4,400 M|
|Day 3 Aurillac - La Bourboule||165 KM||3,800 M|
|Day 4 La Bourboule - Chaumont||205 KM||3,500 M|
|Day 5 Chaumont - Annonay||196 KM||3,030 M|
|Day 6 Annonay - Privas||186 KM||3,600 M|
|Day 7 Privas Loop||184 KM||3,600 M|
|Day 8 Privas - Aubenas||174 KM||3,550 M|
|Day 9 Aubenas - Ales||180 KM||3,600 M|
|Day 10 Ales - Montpellier||182 KM||3,100 M|
|Departure day Transfer day|
See full itinerary
Heading north-west from the coast, our passage around the monuments of the Navacelles opens a feast of dramatic scenery. From sea level, we climb to the summit of Mont Aigoual (1,567m), a desolate place that records windspeeds greater even than those that assail its giant Provencale counterpart, Mont Ventoux. Needless to say, we will be hoping for a good day. To attain the col of this legendary peak, we follow twisting backroads that take us right into the heart of the Cevennes National Park. The roads never tire of winding along ridges or up and over them. A couple of perfect-road descents will be loved by all. As opening days go, this is hard to beat.
Col de Trepaloup
This stage features the impressive Gorges du Tarn before hitting the wild open plateaux of Monts d’Aubrac, including the town of Laguiole, renowned for its eleganty crafted knives, whose handles are sculpted from the horns of the local Salers breed. From here, the Gorges de la Truyere lies in wait, ending the stage with two very challenging climbs. As we approach the gateway to the volcanic Puy region, this is something of a transition stage but a no less interesting or challenging one for it.
Col de Coperlac, Col de Bonnecombe
From the austere and rocky Lozère region, we move to the greenery of the volcanic Monts d’Auvergne, as our route takes into the heart of the Puy wonderland. At 1600m, the Puy Mary is the highest point of this stage, yet the rounded hills offer less aggressive roads and the tranquility and views make this area a real treat for cyclists. After a choppy passage in the first half of the stage, the roads are becalmed after lunch, becoming steep once more in the wooded climbs that feature on the latter part of the stage. The thermal town of La Bourboule is a fascinating place and will be welcome stop for the night.
Pas de Peyrol
Less climbing than usual today, as we traverse the Livradois-Forez Park, a beautiful wooded region in between the Puy de Dome and the Ardeche. Some short, steep climbs appear from time to time, a reminder of why you are here.
Col de Vendeix, Col de la Croix Saint Robert, Col de la Pierre Plantee
Traversing more tranquil, wooded hills, we cross the upper reaches of the Loire today, climbing into the hills of the Haute-Loire. The tougher sections of this stage end on the northern slopes of the Ardeche, from where we descend to our rest-day hotel in the charming small town of Annonay on the western flanks of the Rhone valley.
Col de la Charousse
After a gently rolling start towards the famous wine town of Tain l’Hermitage, we head up into the south-eastern part of the ever-arduous Ardeche for a very rocky ride along the Corniche de l’Eyrieux. We’ll enjoy stunning views across both the Rhone valley and the Ardeche hills, although several options for shortcuts towards the end of this stage could be welcomed by some riders.
Col du Pialou, Col de Serre Mure
This is the first of two stages that, between them, will take riders over most of the climbs featured in L‘Ardechoise cyclo-sportive. Another intense day in the saddle but so, so worth the pain. The Gerbier de Jonc is one of the two highest points of the region and on a good day offers incomparable views.
Col du Serre
The second half of our Ardechoise extravaganza. The mighty Col de Meyrand might steal centre-stage but this is another bumpy ride the whole way round. Wild riding at its best.
Col de la Croix de Bauzon, Col de Meyrand
Heading south through the eastern edge of the Monts d’Ardeche, this is our final stage riding the narrow, twisting Ardeche roads with their endless climbs. More superb wild scenery as we touch the Lozère region again before rejoining civilsation in the historic town of Ales.
Col du Pre de la Dame
Home to one of the most memorable cols in the Cevennes, the Col de l’Asclier, this stage offers us our last climbs and views of the formidable National Parc des Cevennes. All the hard work comes in the first half of this stage, leaving a gentle run-in, via some charming Provencale villages, to Montpellier.
Col de l'Asclier, Col de Pierre Levee
Ride routes and on-bike food/food stops were outstanding!
— CCC Pyrenees 2015
My 6th CCC and the best. Outstanding route, comfortable hotels, great food and superb support staff.
— CCC Cantabrico 2015
All our trips are physically demanding, but some are harder than others. Cent Cols Challenges are the toughest challenge. Our guides will support every rider to go beyond their usual level of riding, but you should be able to spend up to 10 hours in the saddle for multiple days.
We ask all customers to pay a deposit (usually £500/$800/€650) when they book, which confirms their reservation. The balance is due 60 days before departure – we’ll get in touch to remind you when it’s time. If you book less than 60 days before departure, we’ll usually ask you to pay the full trip price upfront.
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Telephone: +44 (0) 207 482 9175
Hours: 9.30am-6.00pm (BST)
Hours: 8.30am-5.30pm (PDT)
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 482 9175
Hours: 9.30am-6.00pm (BST)