The day before a major race, riders can now preview the world's most prestigious courses.
No matter how hard you work in the saddle, you'll never make it to the Tour de France as anything other than a spectator, right? Wrong. The world's most famous cycling race course is not off-limits to amateurs and enthusiasts—not even on race day.
“Tour de France is a big bucket list trip that we've been offering from the beginning,” says Mark Thomsen, a marketing manager with Trek Travel, a luxury full-service cycling vacation company founded by Trek Bicycles in 2002. With Trek Travel, you can attempt the most brag-worthy climbs, like the gravity-defying Pyrenees and Alps, just hours before the pro peloton swoops in. Riders can then meet up with racers, like Swiss superstar Fabian “Spartacus” Cancellara, at each stage finish to high-five.
To be clear, this experience is not a race, but rather a cyclosportive. “The general idea is to give an organized bike group the chance to see what pro courses are like, and give them the opportunity to watch the race live,” explains Simeon Green from CMI Cycling, which runs such bike tours. “Cyclosportives are the perfect combination of a cycling holiday mixed with the extra challenge of the event, and the cherry on top is the chance to witness a real bike race in person.”
You'll want to trainfor the experience, but don't worry about getting dropped: “It's not so much about riding 50 to 100 miles each day as being at the right point at the right time. If that means a ride in the shuttle or a boost up a hill or a helicopter ride to the viewing area since roads are closed to cars on race day, we get everyone up in time to see the pros charging in,” Thomsen says.
Below, a list of the coolest, most-coveted pro race trips of the season.