An exacting trip which features one of the toughest Cent Cols stages ever.
This is one of the most demanding Cent Cols Challenges, setting out from the Basque seaside town of San Sebastián for ten stages of punchy climbs in the West Pyrenees. The climbs of the region are dramatic - down to their rare combination of sheer gradients, rocky outcrops, and breathtaking views - and legs will be thoroughly tested on stage six, which packs 6750m of climbing into 202km.
Single occupancy — €4,200 per person
Double occupancy — €3,500 per person
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 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 San Sebastian Loop||221 KM||4,400 M|
|Day 2 San Sebastian - Esterencuby||215 KM||5,300 M|
|Day 3 Esterencuby - Oloron||200 KM||5,500 M|
|Day 4 Oloron - Argeles Gazost||175 KM||4,700 M|
|Day 5 Argeles Loop||207 KM||5,760 M|
|Day 6 Argeles - St Lary Soulan||202 KM||6,750 M|
|Day 7 St Lary - Portalet (Spain)||212 KM||5,500 M|
|Day 8 Portalet - Jaca (Spain)||218 KM||3,400 M|
|Day 9 Jaca - Borguete (Spain)||202 KM||5,350 M|
|Day 10 Borguete - San Sebastian||208 KM||3,700 M|
|Departure day Transfer day|
See full itinerary
A vicious start to the journey with almost every climb hitting double-digit gradient regularly. Wooded lanes lead up to sea-view ridges.
Alto de Ezkurra, Collado de Arritxulegi
More steep, narrow backroads lead us into France where the landscape opens up as we climb into the rugged, impressive hills of the Iraty region of the Pays Basque. Single track roads take us above the tree line and along open ridges with 360 degree views. Climbs are steep, descents technical. Our hotel is equally as unique, tucked away in a remote Iraty valley.
Col des Abeilles, Col d'Ispeguy
Another ultra-steep Basque climb opens the stage, bringing us back onto the Iraty plateau for more exceptional views. Crossing from one valley to another via double-figure gradient, we eventually come to the North-West side climb of the Col de Soudet: this Col, just below the impsing Pierre St Martin, can be climbed on four sides – in seperate stages we will do three. There is no ‘easy’ side to this legendary pearl of the Pyrenees. A fast, gentle run-in to Oloron closes another tough stage.
Col d'Arnosteguy, Col de Soudet
Four classic climbs make this stage more ‘iconic’: our second visist to the Pierre St Martin mountain opens, followed quickly by the tough but short Marie Blanque. The Aubisque, via its tougher western side is next, with the glorious, lesser known Col de Spandelles closing the stage that brings us for three nights to Argeles-Gazost in the heart of the High Pyrenees.
Col d'Aubisque, Col de Spandelles
This loop stage begins with some ‘foothills’ climbs that are an anything-but-gentle prelude to our first ascent of the mighty Tourmalet, from the La Mongie side. The up-and-back climb to the Col des Tentes is rarely ridden but so worth the effort for it’s exceptional views towards the top. A second up-and-back climb, to the Col de Couraduque is less spectacular but equally unmissable and will offer the faster riders a chance to cheer on the ‘slower’ ones as paths cross!
Col du Tourmalet, Col des Tentes
No less than six of the seven climbs on this stage feature regularly on the Tour. Possible the Queen stage of our journey, this could be called the CCC version of the infamous 'Circle of Death'. The Col de Beyrede may not a Tour name, but it still places the steepest gradients of the whole stage!
Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin, Hourquette d'Ancizan
After another Tour classic climb (Azet-Louron), we tackle a trecherous regular feature of the original CCC Pyrenees routes – foothills they may be, but the seven ‘lower’ cols create an especially ‘busy’ section of the stage before heading to the Soulor via it’s harder side. Once the easier side of the Aubisque crested, the 25km climb to the Col de Portalet awaits.
Col d'Aubisque, Puerto o Paso del Portalet
A fully Spanish stage with some of the wildest sections of the whole event. Stunning roads and mountain vistas complement less harsh gradients to make this a remarkable contrast to the other stages. An especially comfortable, modern hotel awaits us in Jaca.
Puerto de Cotefablo
Via the Col de Somport, this stage takes us back into France to tackle the third, and perhaps hardest side of the Soudet. The Col de Bagargy hits us even harder, with its 'average %' signs of 11,12, 13 and 13.5: one of the hardest in the Pyrenees, for sure. After a final treat of beauty on the plateaux of Iraty, we finally head back into Spain via a steady, gentler climb to the Puerto de Ibenata.
Puerto o Paso de Somport
To close this tough route across the Pyrenees, our return to the Basque hills is marked first by the extraordinary climb to the Santuria de Aralar, where the bravest can go right up to the weather station. Five more climbs stand between us and the sea and they will not let you forget them easily!
Santuario de Aralar
My 6th CCC and the best. Outstanding route, comfortable hotels, great food and superb support staff.
— CCC Cantabrico 2015
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 12 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)