Cent Cols Challenge Southern Alps

NEW for 2015, this event is harder than the CCC Corsica but not as tough as the CCC Pyrenees or CCC Cantabrico.

CCC Southern Alps: A totally NEW route for 2015 which explores many of the unknown roads of this area in its first half, before visiting some of the classic climbs of the south-eastern Alps in both France and Italy in the final stages. The Italian section, in particular, will make a very strong impression on riders on this Challenge. In all, a very rich mix of high roads that leave few areas unvisited. Together with the CCC Northern Alps (planned for 2016), it will create a duo of events that form the ultimate Alpine experience. Do not be misled by the apparent lack of big climbs. With ten 2,000m-plus cols in stages 7-9, the latter part of this challenge will truly provide the high points. The Ventoux day provides the event’s pivotal stage, with three nights at the same lovely hotel in Malaucene.

6th June to 16th June 2015

Book this trip »


Stage One: Carros to Carros

Distance: 198km
Elevation: 4400m.
Key climbs: Rostan, Sausses, St Michel, Mt Vial, Vé Gautier, Baisse de Rourebel, St Raphael, Besseuges, Trebuchet, Buis, Bleine, Sine, Ecre. (13)

A loop stage to begin with, which is in no way a compromise for convenience. With so many exceptional climbs in the Maritime Alps behind the Cote d’Azur and Grasse, this stage visits some of the best.

Stage Two : Carros to La Palud-s-Verdon

Distance: 188km.
Elevation: 3,850m.
Key climbs: Peyron, Vence, Ane, Ferres, Pimpinier, Lattes, Luens, Blache, Ste Barnabé, Croix du Chateauneuf. (10)

With its glorious sea views, the Col de Vence opens the stage, followed by another unforgettable loop around the Montagne du Cheiron. From here, we head west towards the Lac de Castillon and a beautiful loop above turquoise lakes, via the Col Ste Barnabé. This brings us to the gates of the Gorges du Verdon for the first of a two-part ride in this formidable landscape.

Stage Three : La Palud-s-Verdon to Sisteron

Distance: 214km.
Elevation: 4,200m.
Key climbs: Collet d’Ampon, Vaumale, Illoire, ‘Mur des Abeillies’, Pas de Laval, Pas de la Graille (Lure), St Robert.

Via the unbeatable Corniche Sublime on the Rive Gauche, we explore the best of the Gorges du Verdon before heading east towards Provence, through extensive lavender fields and choppy hills. The stage ends with a superb 30km descent into Sisteron, following the stage’s major climb up the southern slope of the Montagne de la Lure.

Stage Four : Sisteron to Malaucene

Distance: 181km
Elevation: 3,500m.
Key climbs: Grele, Hte. Forest, Pierre Vesce, St Jean, Muze, Macuegne, Homme Mort, Aires, Fontaube, Perpencher, Propriac, Veaux, Gainons, Astaud.

A progressively harder stage that makes its way to the northern ascent of the Ventoux along the boundary between the Hautes Alpes de Provence and the Drome region. A fascinating loop north of Sisteron opens the stage before we head west, tackling the tough duo of the Pierre Vesce and St Jean climbs mid-stage. The loop north of Malaucene in the latter part of the stage is full of the unique and powerful charm of this exceptional area. The Ventoux, seen from its threatening northern slopes, glowers over us for almost all of the second half of this stage.

Stage Five : Malaucene to Malaucene

Distance: 197km
Elevation: 6100m
Key climbs: Ventoux (north), Ventoux (east), Chaine, Suzette, Champ Paga, Madeleine, Ventoux (south).

The Ventoux day. Three separate ascents of the Giant of Provence are divided up by equally compelling roads. From Bedoin, after the first northern ascent we head across to climb up through the unique Gorges de la Nesque. The beginning of a long haul all the way up to Sault, the lavender capital of Provence. From here we carry on up over the Giant for the second time, via its ‘easier’ side, before then exploring the roads that take us near the ‘Dentelles de Montmirail’. A bumpy section that eventually brings us to Bedoin for our third and final ascent via its ‘classic’ side. Riders completing this stage will become credible members of the Cinglés du Ventoux club, while those not feeling up to all three ascents will be able to take a shortcut. A truly classic day.

REST DAY : Malaucene

Our third night at Domaine des Tilleuls, a wonderful hotel, with a large private park to relax and stretch in. The old part of this little village is particularly interesting.

Stage Six : Malaucene to Gap

Distance: 184km
Elevation: 3300m.
Key climbs: Vaillant, Pas du Voltigeur, Veaux, Aires, Aulan, Perty, Pierre Vesce, de le Croix, Chaumlane, Espreaux, Foureyssasse, Villard.

Back round the northern side of Ventoux for the last time, and by another route, we climb through the magical village of Brantes before heading east towards the long steady climb up to the Col de Perty, with its panorama over the high Alps. The second half of this very picturesque stage takes in most of the challenging and beautiful ‘Tour de la Montagne d’Aujour’ loop, followed by the ‘Balcons de Rousine’ with 180-degree views over the Parc des Ecrins to our east. Provence is now a fond memory as the high Alps prepare to welcome us.

Stage Seven : Gap to Barcelonette

Distance: 205km
Elevation: 5,050m
Key climbs: Le Collet de Lareton, La Sentinelle, Haut Forest, Garcinets, St Jean, Allos, Champs, Cayolle. (8)

The first of the final four stages, that between them cover almost all of the classic giants of the Southern Alps. After a rolling ride towards and across the Durance valley, followed by more steady climbing that brings us down to the Ubaye valley, we reach the outskirts of Barcelonette and the start of the epic trilogy-loop that makes up just over half of this stage. In stages seven, eight and nine, we climb no less then ten cols well over 2,000m.

Stage Eight : Barcelonette to Guillestre

Distance: 195km
Elevation: 5,110m
Key climbs: Bonette, Raspaillon, Lombarde, Larche, Vars.

There may only be four climbs on this stage but each of them are legends unto themselves and put together make up a massive second day with the giants. At 2,800m the Bonette is naturally our highest point of the 10 days and the desolate landscape will underline this. From the Lombarde to the Larche (Colle della Maddalena) we are in Italy for the first time.

Stage Nine : Guillestre to Cuneo

Distance: 185km
Elevation: 4,850m.
Key climbs: Agnel, Sampeyre, Esischie, Valonetto, dei Morti

Beginning in France, the majority of this stage enjoys the drama of the Italian Piemonte region with some more extraordinary climbs. The Col d’Agnel has featured recently in the Tour and its steep slopes set the tone for this epic penultimate stage. It is lower than the Bonette by a mere 55m. After an adrenalin-rush descent to Sampeyre, the 16km climb to the colle of the same name is our first true Pantani-playground climb. This brute is followed by the epic trilogy of the Esischie-Valonetto-dei Morti which provides the meat for a renowned local annual Fondo. It will be more than enough to finish our day. The 25km descent off the final climb is probably the best descent of the whole event. Finally, our arrival into Cuneo is as grand as it gets, our very classy hotel is on the main plaza. Although here for just one night, we certainly get the best possible taste of Italy. Best breakfast, too, of the whole event.

Stage Ten : Cuneo to Carros

Distance: 165km
Elevation: 3,450m
Key climbs: Tende, Brouis, Perus, St Jean, Braus, Colle Donna, Nice, Chateauneuf des Contes, Aspremont.

Heading due south over the dramatic Colle del Tende and back into France, we close this Challenge with some choppy climbs and sweeping descents. Up and over one rdige after another, our efforts are rewarded by stunning views of the area. A deliberately shorter stage, allowing more time for café stops and an earlier finish, but even this stage has some tough ascents to deal with.

Full price of trip: £2950