Route Description and design concept

Where does the mHealth Grand Tour go?

The 2,100km route from Brussels travels through Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, France and Northern Spain on to Barcelona.

Heading east from Brussels, the ride goes into the Ardennes before crossing Luxemburg and meeting the Rhine near Saarbrucken.   We then head south to the Black Forest and on into France crossing the Jura mountains and on into the Alps. After the rest day the Tour heads west across Languedoc, through the Pyrenees and into Catalonia, to head down to Barcelona

What have we tried to achieve when planning the route?

Our chosen route will enable riders to experience the breathtaking scenery and quiet country roads on offer in Belgium, Germany, France and Spain.  At the same time, in the spirit of the Grand Tours of old, we have also designed the ride to take in the outstanding cultural sights on the way.

How did we plan the route?

  • The most important thing is to ensure the roads are safe and suitable for groups of riders.  We have checked the route, made changes where we think there may be issues, and will be back for a final check before the Tour.
  • Then, there is the practical consideration of how far people can ride in a day.  Although the average day will cover about 160km, we shorten the daily distance in the hills and make it a little longer on flat sections.
  • Where we can, we pick up some of the classic cycle routes.  As we will be close to Bastogne anyway, it seems a shame not to ride some of the Liege-Bastogne classic route: Not all of it, but enough to get a feel for where the professionals ride.
  • We planned the route before the 2013 Tour de France was announced, but even so, part of our route is similar to Stage 8 and it includes the mountain top finish at Semnoz on Stage 20.  We have also looked to pick up vignettes of past Tour de France stages along the way.
  • We want riders to experience the culture, architecture and sights on the route.  Rather than riding round Baden Baden, Annecy and Carcassonne, or skipping past the, the Réserve Naturelle des Gorges de l'Ardèch‬, or missing the Millau bridge - we have made a point of going to each of these places.  There is only so much you can cover in 14 days, but the route provides a rich and rewarding cultural itinerary.
  • We wanted to have one continuous route from Brussels to Barcelona.  To do this, we have had to balance the distance we ride each day with places where we can all stay.  We will have a few big days, but at least we know there will be a shower or bath, good food and a comfortable bed when we finish each day.
  • Finally (and selfishly), we planned the route to go where we would have wanted to go if we were riding.

mHealth Grand Tour Map

Overview Route Stages

The Tour incorporates 13 days riding, split into four stages, all classics in their own right.

Not everyone has the time to ride for two weeks. We have, therefore, divided the ride into four stages. All have their own personality and all are challenging in their own right.

We have revised original planned route adding a couple of countries - Luxemburg and Germany – whilst managing to keep the distance and the amount of climb roughly the same. We still go from Brussels to Barcelona! The structure of the ride, with four stages and a rest day, is the same and the route is the same from Annecy to Barcelona.

We think the change enhances the ride, as we will be heading over to Baden Baden and then into the Black Forest before heading west from Mulhouse through the Jura mountains. We have one final safety check to complete, at which point we will finalise the route but provisionally the route, the distances and the amount of climb each day will be as summarised below.

hover over route to see more details of each stage

Stage 1 - Brussels to Paris

Brussels to Paris:  3rd September to 5th September

From Brussels we head south into northern France picking up sections of Stage 4 of the 2015 Tour de France into Cambrai.  From Cambrai we head to Reims, the centre of the Champagne region before heading into Paris.  We will ride some pave´, no doubt sample some Champagne and enjoy some of the excellent riding through Belgium and Northern France. For people continuing on the Tour We then have a day in Paris to either rest and recover or to enjoy the sites.

  Start/Finish Description Km/m
Day 1
3rd Sept
Brussels /
From Brussels we head south to Cambrai.  There is something of a military theme to the day as we pass the 1815 Waterloo battle field before heading to the 'Western Front' at Mons, the location of the last fighting on the Western front on 11th November 1918. The cycling will include some of the famous pavé of Northern France as we pick up the 2015 Tour de France Stage 4 route into Cambrai.   At 150km it is a full days riding for the first day of the Tour! 150km
Day 2
4th Sept
Cambrai /
Day 2 takes us into Reims, the heart of the champagne region of France.  There continues to be a military theme as we roughly follow the line of the Western Front past St Quentin and the River Aisne.  The cycling is mainly on quite rural roads through the open 'rolling' countryside of northern France.  The wind turbines highlight the potential risk of windy conditions but as we are heading east, hopefully the wind will be behind us as we head into the champagne vineyards around Reims! 162km
Day 3
5th Sept
Reims /
The final day is the longest day of the Stage at 173km.  Leaving Reims we ride through the region's vineyards roughly following La Marne river which meets La Seine in Paris.  There are no significant climbs but the day isn't flat!  We make our way to Paris following quiet country roads and then into the city using a combination of quiet roads and cycle paths. 174km
Rest Day
6th Sept
Paris We have a 'rest day' in Paris.  As part of the Tour we will also host a Diabetes outreach event in Paris on the 6th that riders are welcome to join.  Alternatively it is an opportunity to see some of the sites.  


Stage 2 - Paris to Belfort

Stage 2 - Paris to Belfort

Paris to Belfort: 7th September to 9th September

Stage 2 takes the Tour out of Paris and through the Vosges to Belfort.  It has a great mix of riding, from the chalk downlands east of Paris to the Hautes Vosges and the Grand Ballon.  There is also a significant gastronomic and cultural aspect to the stage.  Cheese features quite a bit in the regional specialities. We pass through Provins, a World Heritage site, Troyes, Langres, Chaumont and Belfort all of which have some unique architectural features.  The main character of the stage is however idyllic, virtually traffic free, French countryside.

  Start/Finish Description Km/m
Day 4
7th Sept
Paris to Troyes We head east from Paris along the Marne river using quiet roads and cycle paths to avoid the worst of the traffic.  Once clear of Paris we head to Coulommiers (where the Brie cheese comes from) before going onto Provins, a fortified medieval town, which is a UNESCO world heritage site then heading onto Troyes which is described in the Lonely Planet guide as "one of the finest ensembles of half-timbered houses and Gothic churches in France".  It is a long day but it is flat with most of the ascent gained over a number of small climbs, each less than 100m. 181km
Day 5
8th Sept
Troyes to Langres Troyes to Langres is possibly the quietest days riding we have recced in France!  The area is very pretty with a mix of lakes, forests, open countryside and sleepy villages.  There are few claims to fame, Charles de Galle came from the area and the Viaduct at Chaumont is an impressive three story railway bridge with over 50 arches and spanning 600 metres.  Langres is an old fortified hill top town.  Again there are no significant individual climbs but over the day we gain 300m of ascent so the whole day is uphill. 163km
Day 6
9th Sept
Langres to Belfort As Langres is a hill fort the day starts downhill.  This is the longest day of the tour at 189km and also has the first big climb of the Tour, the Col du Ballon d'Alsace which was the first offical climb of the Tour de France in 1905.  It has been included in the Tour de France no less than 20 times.  The offical climb from St Maurice is 619m over 9km with a maximum gradient of 8%.  Luckily from the summit this there is a 30km decent to Belfort to enjoy, making the distance less of a challenge. 189km


The Rest Day

At the end of the first week of the Tour, there will be a rest day.

This is between Stage 2 and Stage 3. The main reason for the rest day is to allow riders going all the way from Brussels to Barcelona to rest and to recover before the second half of the ride.

However, for Tour participants who aren't so keen on rest, we will also organise a day out in the Alps. Riders leaving at the end of Stage 2 will have the option to stay on an extra night and those starting on Stage 3 can come in a day early. We will be heading into the high Alps to ride a Col or two, before getting back to prepare for Stage 3.

Providing an opportunity to see and ride in the high Alps, the rest day trip will be relaxed and informal: The route won't be signed, but we will have some of our team riding with you to show the way. We will stop in cafes for coffee and food on route.

Stage 3 - Belfort to Geneva

Stage 3 - Belfort to Geneva

Belfort to Geneva: 10th September to 12th September

From Belfort we head south across the Jura mountains and into Switzerland before going into the Alps and onto Geneva.  The stage has a much more mountainous feel to it with some big climbs as we head into the alps, including the option of taking on the hors category climb to ski station at Avoriaz.  On the final day, when the weather is good, there are spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif on the descent from the Joux Plane.  Whilst the stage is the shortest in distance it more than makes up for it with climbing having 10,000m ascent over the last three days.  An epic finish to the Tour.

  Start/Finish Description Km/m
Day 7
10th Sept
Belfort / Yverdon L-B Heading south from Belfort, we cross the Jura mountains.  There is a fair amount of climbing but the highest point is for the day just over 1100m so not especially high. There is some cluture on the route too, La Chaux-de-Fonds is a World Heritage site and centre of the Swiss watch making industry. The town is referred to by Karl Marx in Das Kapital and was birth place of the architect Le Corbusier.  From here we head down into the spa town of Yverdon-Les-Bains. 167km
Day 8
11th Sept
Yverdon L-B /
Day 8 takes us through Montreaux and into the Alps. There are two options for the day.  The 'easy' option is to ride directly to the hotel in Morzine however, for the climbers there is the opportunity to add the Avoriaz climb onto the route when you arrive in Morzine. This adds 30 km (14km up) and 850m of climb to the day but Avoriaz has has been a stage finish of the Tour de France so has kudos and if you are Bernard Hinault it only takes 33 minutes to the top! 151km
Day 9
12th Sept
Morzine /
The final day is a proper day's riding.  It starts with the famous col de Jeux Plane which, even from the 'easier' Morzine side, is 11km long with over 700m of ascent. The second col of the day is col de la Ramaz which is another big climb before our final climb of the Tour over Col de la Croisette which gives great views of Geneva and the lake.  From here it is all downhill to the hotel and dinner. 125km
Fly Home
13th Sept
Geneva We have a celebratory dinner on the evening of the 12th and expect people to be heading home on the morning of the 13th.  


Stage 4 - Pyrenees & Barcelona

Stage 4 - Pyrenees & Barcelona

Takes us up and over the Pyrenees for one of the literal and figurative high points of the ride, then into Spain and south through Catalonia to Barcelona to complete the Grand Tour.

  Start/Finish Description Km/m
Day 11
16th Sept
Castres to Ax-Le-Thermes is Stage 8 of the 2013 Tour de France route. We head into Carcassonne to pass the medieval City so don’t follow the route exactly. The second half of the day does except, we stop in Ax-Le-Therme and don’t finish the day climbing to the ski station. 175km
Day 12
17th Sept
This is the biggest day’s riding on the Tour. It is long with lots of climb. We leave Ax-Les-Therme and immediately over Col de Pailhères in the Pyrenees – this is the second highest of the French Pyrenean cols with 1000m of climb. We then cross into Spain for two more climbs before getting to Berga. 182km
Day 13
18th Sept
Not quite all down hill but overall more than 2200m of descending. A great days riding through rural Catalonia before coming into Barcelona and the finish. 135km



The hotels we will be staying in along the route will be mainly 3 star. On most nights, we will be staying in either family-run hotels or one of the leading hotel chains in the centres of towns or cities. However, we will also have a couple of nights where we will be staying in fairly rural areas. To sleep and feed everyone, our team has searched out the best accommodation available, including smaller hotels and B&Bs.

Transfer Information For Each Stage