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Summiting one of the iconic mountains in France, such the Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier or Mont Ventoux is probably on many cyclists’ wish list, however, simply getting to these locations is an undertaking in itself and these logistical challenges are certainly off-putting.  I connected with Gordon Geraghty, Managing Director of Braking Away Cycling Tours to discuss their rather special tour which takes those logistical headaches away, allowing you to tackle these iconic climbs, and is appropriated called the “10 Icons Tour.”

The 10 Icons Tour explained

The “10 Icon Tour” is unique.  It’s an 8-day, 7-night tour that tackles 10 of the most iconic climbs of the Tour de France.  You will be fully supported in this endeavour with Gordon empathising this by saying “we do this together.”  Each group will have their own dedicated team car, mechanic and an experienced road captain to support.  To keep riders fuelled during this epic undertaking, refreshments will be provided on the road.

The 10 climbs that will be tackled are:

  1. Col de Joux Plane
  2. Col de la Colombière
  3. Col de la Madeleine
  4. Col du Glandon
  5. Col du Télégraphe
  6. Col du Galibier
  7. Alpe d’Huez
  8. Col d’Izoard
  9. Col de la Bonette
  10. Mont Ventoux

Gordon explained that the route has been carefully crafted to create the “perfect hitlist of climbs to tackle with minimal travel.”


Day One – Travel to Geneva, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day Two – Col de Joux Plane & Col de la Colombière

The traditional ascent of the Col de Joux Plane begins in Samoens and proceeds southward. Marco Pantani, the 1997 Le Tour winner, completed the ascent in 33 minutes. The ascent is regarded as one of the toughest in the Alps since it is relentlessly steep. Despite being difficult for the first few kilometers, the going quickly eases to more tolerable levels. Your efforts are rewarded with a breathtaking view of Mont Blanc at the top.

The Col de la Colombière made its Tour de France debut in 1960 and has since appeared 23 times, most recently in 2021. The climbs starts steadily but its difficulty increases after Le Reposoir.

Day Three – Col de la Madeleine & Col du Glandon

The Col de la Madeleine has featured 25 times in the Tour de France since 1969. The climb from the north is on a quiet, narrow road initially passing through wooded terrain before rising above the tree line into open country. It’s a long climb at 25km but a steady one. The gradient varies with two plateaus throughout the climb to enable you to recover.

The Col du Glandon is a long steady climb but the final 3km is challenging with multiple steep hairpins.   This is the day with the most amount of climbing.

Day Four – Col du Télégraphe & Col du Galibier

From the hotel, there is a 14km warmup to the bottom of the Col du Télégraphe through St Michel de Maurienne.  At 11.8km in length with an average gradient of 7.3%, it’s a steady climb.

The Col du Galibier is arguably the most iconic of all Tour de France climbs and was first used in 1911 and tops out at 2642mabove sea level.  It’s epic, but spectacular.  The descent is long and high speeds can be reached, so best not to exceed your limits.

Day Five – Alpe d’Huez & Col d’Izoard

In cyclist terms, they don’t come much more iconic that the Alpe d’Huez. It’s arguably the most well-known mountain in racing history and a “must-do” for any cyclist. Every one of the 21 hairpins has a unique story. This 13.9 km ascent will put you to the test with an average grade of 8.2% and a high of 12%. Making it to the top of this famous climb will be in your mind forever.

The Col d’Izoard has appeared 36 times in the Tour, and it will give you the impression that you are riding in a another world. The feats of Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobet, and Bernard Thévenet on the Col d’Izoard can be felt amongst the lunar landscape and at the top is a tribute to Coppi and Bobet and a modest cycling museum. For every enthusiast of cycling, it is a must.

Day Six – Col de la Bonette

Col de la Bonette sees nearly 3,000 metres of climbing on the route to the top of the Bonette! At 2,802 metres (9,193 feet) above sea level. This is the highest paved road in France. As the road kicks up, the ascent becomes more barren and the scenery becomes increasingly barren, the closer to the summit.

Day Seven – Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux or the “Giant of Provence” as it is known.  Starting from Bedoin, the climb measures 21.3km with 1603m of ascent, with an average of 7.5%.  The early slopes are gentle at 3.9% before the difficulty increases with the remaining 16km averaging 8.9%. Mont Ventoux is one of the most gruelling climbs in the Tour de France history and just to climb it once, is a justifiable achievement and an excellent way to end the trip.

Day Eight – Return to airport (not included).

About Braking Away Cycling Tours

Braking Away Cycling Tours is led by Managing Director, Gordon Geraghty who is an experienced cyclist. In 2014 he cycled from Dublin to Moscow unsupported, raising money for charity in the process. 

In 2021, Gordon formed Braking Away Cycling Tours and his vision is to “give every amateur cyclist the opportunity to experience the life of a Tour de France rider and help them achieve their dreams of conquering some of the most iconic mountains the Tour has to offer.”  Underpinning this is as Gordon noted “working with like-minded people to create memories that will stay with them for the rest of their life.” 

Gordon continues to raise money for charity utilising his position, organising one large charity ride each year.  The 2023 edition raised an incredible €125,000, surpassing his previous year’s total of €112,000. 

Gordon was inspired to set up his company, whose name is a play on the 1979 cycling film, Breaking Away, by friend and fellow business owner, Paul Bramford. 

The 10 Icons Tour was originally created and hosted by Paul, but following a high-speed cycling accident, sadly was no longer able to facilitate it and so Paul happily passed on the flame to Gordon.  Happy that Paul’s legacy is secure, Gordon and his team are continuing to help people to fulfil their cycling dreams, by helping them experience these legendary climbs.  

Summing up

This is an epic adventure and because this is fully supported, takes the worrying that some may have when considering such an undertaking.  The first tour has sold out and takes place between 1st June – 8th June.  There is space available on the other tours which are 22nd June – 29th June and 27th July – 3rd Aug.  It’s priced at €2,350.  For more information visit the Braking Away website here. Having tackled some of these climbs, it’s certainly an efficient way to undertake such a challenge.