So you want to go on a bike holiday that’s part of something bigger – part of a major bike race? Get the blood pumping, the adrenaline surging and feel like you’re part of the peloton – this is the sort of holiday that you’ll be reliving every time you get out on the bike back at home!
But what are your options? The big three are of course:
- Tour de France – undoubtedly the most well-known bike race the world over, the Tour de France – or simply, Le Tour, harks back to 1903 and has been held every consecutive year since, with a couple of exceptions during wartime periods. Like the Giro and Vuelta, the Tour is a UCI World Event, meaning that competing teams are mostly UCI Pro Teams. The route of the Tour changes each year, but for three exceptions – there are always at least two time trials, there is a stage through the Pyrenees and Alps and the finish is along Paris’s Champs Elysees. The route weaves throughout France (its journey changes each year) although it normally slices through an annexed country for a day or two. Like the Giro and Vuelta, the Tour runs for 21 days plus two rest days.
- Giro d’Italia – Italy’s most famous cycling event and one of the world’s three Grand Tours, the ‘Giro’ is held mainly in Italy, although it too will occasionally enter into other countries. The Giro was first established in 1909 and, like the Tour, it has a selection of consistent features in a course that otherwise changes each year. These are – at least two time trials, a mountain passage through the Alps and Dolomites and a finish in Milan in Northern Italy.
- Vuelta a Espana first began in 1935 and like the other Grand Tours, has been held annually with exception to during the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
If you’re keen to capture a slice of the magic, but you want something closer to home, then consider Australia’s Tour Down Under in South Australia. Also an official UCI World Tour Cycling race, the TDU comprises six cycling stages, and is sponsored by our sister site in Aus, BikeExchange.com.au (yay!).
Whether you’re keeping your bike holiday in the Southern Hemisphere, or you’re taking your wheels to Europe, there’s a few things to consider.
Using a guided tour could give you a real leg up given you’re planning to follow a world cycling event – meaning you’re vying for accommodation, meals and transport with literally thousands and thousands of others. With the magic can sometimes come mayhem at huge bike events such as these, so leaving all the planning and daily details with someone else can be a big relief! If you are planning a bike holiday to coincide with a major cycling event, don’t leave it to the last minute. These events make everything book out in rapid fire time – so get onto it fast!
In the meantime, we will try and pretend that we’re not jealous as…