Boucle d’Izoard 125km 2500m+

A challenging route and solid favourite amongst our cycling guests. The ride heads south through Briancon. The historic old town, fortified between the 18th and 20th centuries and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dominating even this alpine landscape. At 1326m it is the highest altitude town in France, and at the confluence of 5 valleys, displays magnificent views.

Rolling terrain to start the day allows riders to ride into this route. Travelling through pretty villages with freshwater fountains and picturesque squares with Provence-style facades. The minor road hugs cliffs to the right and a valley with dramatic gorges topped with farmed pasture to the left.

The Ciclo Magic support car waits at the top of a sharp climb where riders can take a short breather and shed some layers to the car. More rolling roads and we descend to an airstrip before the town of Guillestre where we stop at a bakery for lunch. Baguettes, paninis, quiche, croissants, tarts of the region. A fresh coffee or soft drink. We sit in the town square and refuel. At 987m altitude we have a long way to climb to today’s highest point. The Col d’Izoard at 2360m.

Leaving Guillestre re-energised the group glides along a spectacular road lining the river Guil. The views really are phenomenal. We stay as a group, for the Col d’Izoard is a challenge in of itself and we are not there yet.

A left turning signals the start of the famous col. We climb, a short descent follows. Climbing again we pass through Arvieux at an 8% incline and take a stop to refill bottles for those who need it. The road steepens again at an unforgiving 12% gradient through the village of Brunissard.  The road straight, with no bends for respite and no shade.

Riders find their rhythm. Those with a wise gear ratio can remain seated and others swing their bikes beneath fatiguing limbs. 8km to go. This is a very tough climb and after 3+ hours in the saddle already, it is beginning to show in even the most seasoned rider. This is a strong group and its riders have been training throughout the spring to accomplish climbs like these on back to back days.

Each rider makes it to the trees, a gorgeous section of the climb snaking at between 9% and 11% for 4kms until the Casse Deserte in the finale. A small refreshing descent. Give the legs a shake and look ahead with 2km to the summit. This last section is difficult but if you have managed to pace the rest of the climb well, you should ascend with joy at the road ahead above the tree line and at what you have already accomplished.

The support car summits first. Reaching 2360m altitude, one by one riders cross the iconic TDF writing plastered over the final metres. We take photos to share later. Grab a cheese filled croissant or 2 and can of coke from the car. Absolute bliss.

Jackets and gloves on, we descend. A favourite amongst the Ciclo Magic guides for its fun switch backs within the trees, for its incredible views and for the flight all the way to Briancon.

A steady ride up the valley to finish. A big day out this one but it does not disappoint. The group finishes together. A series of tired legs enter the chalet. Time to enjoy a post ride brew and homemade cake.


Ride this route on a Ciclo Magic holiday with full back up and support. Recover at your leisure back at the chalet and enjoy your 2 course evening meal with a few well earned beers.