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.