100 cols, 10 days – a unique journey that tests and builds the body and spirit in equal measure.
A tough mix of the best climbing from the Vosges, Black Forest and the Jura mountains in Switzerland and France. A route that traverses three countries.
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 Belfort - Munster||198 KM||5300 M|
|Day 2 Munster - Ribeauville||203 KM||5200 M|
|Day 3 Ribeauville - Peterstal||221 KM||4600 M|
|Day 4 Bad Peterstal Loop||198 KM||4250 M|
|Day 5 Bad Peterstal - Freiburg||189 KM||4800 M|
|Day 6 Freiburg loop||216 KM||3800 M|
|Day 7 Freiburg - Bartenheim||196 KM||4950 M|
|Day 8 Bartenheim - Neuchatel||181 KM||3650 M|
|Day 9 Neufchatel loop||207 KM||4250 M|
|Day 10 Neuchatel - Belfort||184 KM||4250 M|
|Departure day Transfer day|
See full itinerary
This stage takes in the most prolific historical climbs of the Vosges. After a nice leg warmer up the Ballon de Sevrance, the Ballon d'Alsace follows: the first ever official climb in a Tour de France, climbed in 1905. After a few smaller climbs, the ""plat de resistance"" comes after lunch, with two ascensions of the Grand Ballon, with the second one the first real test for the legs. The Col de Firstplan, our last climb for the day, should not be much trouble after that.
Ballon de Sevrance, Grand Ballon
We start straight out of the hotel with our two most difficult climbs of the day, the Petit Ballon and the Platzerwasel. The hairpins on the Col du Bramont should be enjoyed, before a steep climb to get back on the Route du Crete, to the Col du Honheck. The afternoon will be easier, despite what the Col du Calvaire's name would suggest. Col du Linge provides a sobering reminder that some of the most fierce battles in WWI happened here.
Petit Ballon, Platzerwasel, Col du Honheck, Col du Linge
A stage of two halves. First, we say goodbye to the Vosges with what could be the hardest climb of the mountain range, going up the Champ du Feu. This is another area of war memories, this time linked to WWII. We then make our way towards the Black Forest, crossing the Plaine d'Alsace and the Rhine river and enter Germany. The steep first climb in the Black Forest, just before arriving at our hotel, sets the tone for what awaits us over the next four days.
Champ du Feu
The Black Forest is maybe the best kept secret in cycling in Europe. We start with the Northern Black Forest, which provides a good introduction to the intimate and green views which just get better with every mile ridden. Charming villages where cafés and cake shops abound. The toughest climb of the stage is once again the final one!
A rolling stage on very quiet roads, reminiscant of Liege-Bastogne-Liege terrain: no big, long climbs but an incessant queue of short tough ones that never leave us a dull moment.
A stage book-ended by two massive climbs. The Kandelpass is the only German climb which made the cut for a Strava ""Classic"" climb. With stats of 12 km at 8.5%, and most of it through pined forest, it is not difficult to see why. After that, the stage takes us on typical Black Forest roads, with little traffic and beautiful views. The last climb will test even the toughest of legs.
This is the Queen stage of the Black Forest. There are few flat sections , either short and steep climbs or longer but steadier climbs. Except for the last one, the Hoch Blauen, which is both long and steep. Another 10km at 9%, you will be rewarded at the top with beautiful views of the Vosges region. A Ventoux-style weather station and a cake shop at the top complete the recipe for an epic climb. We then say goodbye to Germany and return briefly to France.
Another tough stage: we start our exploration of the Swiss Jura with a second consecutive day clocking 5000m+ elevation. This is probably the hardest stage of the trip. We cross from France to Switzerland after 20km, and then start climbing. The Scheltenpass – or Col du Schalten, as it marks the frontier between the German and the French speaking part of Swittzerland – introduces our first steep ramps. But the Balmberg and the Weissensteinpass will really be the test, with high 15-19% gradient being the norm.
Col du Schalten, Weissensteinpass
The Jura loop: the first climb will provide you with great cliff views of the region. Across a plateau with more cows than cars, we head for our next climb, Le Suchet: small roads and steep gradients, pure CCC. While the Mont d'Orzeires is unremarkable, it does bring us to the charming lac de Joux. Col de l'Aiguillon will be the main challenge of the day, with relentless slopes. After that, the long ride on the plateau should be easy, and we can enjoy our last climb, the aptly name Col de la Vue des Alpes.
Col de l'Aiguillon
The main efforts are early on before exiting the Swiss Jura and going back to France. The Col du Chasseral is a contender for the title of hardest climb on the trip. While the rest of the day offers a few climbs that are steep in places, the end is in sight and the feeling of achievement can start to grow.
Col de Chasseral
I think what makes these rides so very special is the fact that Phil and Rapha Travel even dare to attempt them: on paper, they look ridiculous and in practice, they are just that - but also, somehow, possible. Most riders have reserves they never knew existed and Phil's planning and ability to improvise, results in the majority of riders completing stages and events beyond their wildest dreams.
— CCC rider, May 2016
Ride routes and on-bike food/food stops were outstanding!
— CCC Pyrenees 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)