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East Pyrenees

15 September – 25 September 2020

The Girona hills, Andorra, Cap de Long, Port de Pailheres : just a few of the pearls in this CCC “jewel”.

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Final Chance to ride this route

This route explores the warmer and dryer side of the Pyrenees, from the Girona hills to a specific stage dedicated to the climbs of Andorra, then on into the heart of the High Pyrenees. Three nights mid-event spent in Bagneres de Luchon include a NEW STAGE built around the exceptional climb up to the mountain lakes of Cap de Long, Aubert and Orédon. Having climbed many of the most beautiful Pyrenees climbs such as Port de Bales, Portillon, Agnes, Pailheres, and Superbagneres, the route explores the Arriege region before returning to Girona via a stunning coastal excursion through the Banyuls vineyards. Overall an extremely varied ride through some of the most beautifully challenging and remote parts of the Spanish and French Pyrenees.

Please email Phil for any questions.

On the morning of stage two I thought I’d be lucky to finish four stages.On the morning of stage ten, I was so sad that it would soon be all over. I’ll be back soon! Thanks so much.
D Poulter, CCC E Pyrenees 2017

The Stages

Stage One

Girona Loop

210KM / 3000M

Main climbs:
Condrileu, Rajols, Gomara, Saint Hilari

In 2018 an experienced local rider rode the stage with us and admitted that this was the best 'loop route' of the Girona hills he had ever ridden. A wonderful opener which shows just why so many pro riders are based in Girona and ride these roads all year round.

Stage Two

Girona to Molina

190KM / 4600M

Main climbs:
Roccacorba, Caselles, Collfred, Vidra, La Creu, Merolla, La Crueta

After a visit to the unmissable Roccacorba climb we head north-west via more rolling hills which take us to one of the toughest climbs of the whole event : the little-known Collfred. There are three ways of scaling this one : we take the hardest. From here some more very 'back-roads' lead us towards the well-known Crueta climb ( a regular in the Vueltas of both Spain and Catalunya) to the ski-station of La Molina.

Stage Three

Molina to Ordino

205KM / 4600M

Main climbs:
Llosse, Creu, Font Romeu, Puymorens, Envalira, Ordino

Into France and finishing in Andorra, this stage leads us across the plateau of the Cerdagne towards the "Llosse Loop" : a flying decent into impressive gorges followed by a tough climb through remote rugged terrain. From here we head towards Andorra via a long climb to the highest road point of the Pyrenees (Envalira). Our final 10km climb to Ordino gives us a taste of what is to come in the 'Andorra stage'.

Stage Four

Ordino to Sort

187KM / 5300M

Main climbs:
Baixalis, Cortals, Engolasters, Comelia, Galina, Jouell, Canto.

Andorra is another favourite location for pro riders and this stage includes almost all of the favourites of this tiny Principality. With it's surprising contrast between the noisy, bustling valley and the tranquil scenic summits, (many climbs are 'up & backs'), Andorra is quite unique. Gradients are often sharp; road surfaces perfect; traffic almost absent. To end the stage in Spain, we cross the long but steady Collada di Canto, which offers us a perfect 12km descent to our hotel in Sort.

Stage Five

Sort to Bagneres de Luchon

175KM / 4800M

Main climbs:
Bonaigue, Portillon, Artigue, Hospice de France, Superbagneres

After another long steady climb we return into France via the Col du Portilhon which brings us right into Bagneres de Luchon. This will be our base for three nights, which is no coincidence. Many of the prime climbs of the Pyrenees are to be found in the proximity. The second half of this stage explores three of the 'crown jewels' of this typical thermal town : all three up & backs, which is useful if some riders are ready for an early start to the rest day!

Rest day

Bagneres de Luchon

Stage Six

Bagneres de Luchon Loop

209KM / 5600M

Main climbs:
Peyresourde, Azet, Cap de Long, Aubert, Peyregudes, Port de Bales

This loop stage has a totally new design for this final year, taking in a very special road that has never been integrated into a CCC stage until now : the Y-shaped route up to the twin up & back's of the Lac's Cap de Long and Aubert, from the Lac d'Orédon offer possible the most picturesque route to be found anywhere in the Pyrenees. Add to this the double-ascent of the Azet and the finale up to the Port de Bales, the result is possible the most beautiful CCC stage ever ridden.....Riders will judge that for themselves if the Mountains grant us weather-with-views !

Stage Seven

Bagneres de Luchon to Oust

210KM / 5400M

Main climbs:
Portillon, Artigue,Menté,Portet d'Aspet, Core, Rille, Peguerre, Saraille

Possibly the Queen Stage of this event, we leave Luchon via the hardest side of the Portillon for a short section back in Spain before our first real challenge : a gravel climb through remote woodland with "Watch out for Bears" signs ( very rare to see them, fear not!). The 18-20% sections on the Aspet are no easier. The Core is steadier and a superb rural climb, giving some time to 'recover' before the long tough climb to the Col de Peguerre via it's little ridden north side. One more typically remote, wooded climb lies in wait for tired riders who will all be so glad to find our tiny, other-worldly family-run hotel in the village of Oust.

Stage Eight

Oust to Ax les Thermes

190KM / 4500M

Main climbs:
Latrape, Agnes, Jouels, Prat d'Albis (NEW), Marmare, Chouia

Our last stage in the High Pyrenees. The Latrape/Agnes duo is one of the most impressive climbs in the Pyrenees, with the latter's stunning mountain summit lake. We climb the short sharp side of the (Mur de) Peguerre with more 18% gradient before plunging down to the medieval town of Foix. After including a NEW up & back climb featured in the Tour 2019 ( Prat d'Albis) from Foix itself, we rise up onto the wonderfully scenic "Route des Cretes", taking us high above the thermal town of Ax les Thermes. Which just leaves us with a fast thrilling descent, one of the best on the event, to end the stage.

Stage Nine

Ax les Thermes to Amelie les Bains

184KM / 4400M

Main climbs:
Port de Pailheres, Moulis, Jau, Roquejalere,Palomeres, Xatard

The mighty Port de Pailheres is our royal gateway out of the High Pyrenees, leading us into the Arriege region with it's arid, rocky landscape, dotted with the impressive ruins of the Cathar castles. Climbs are less steep but just as spectacular. Traffic is still rare; gorges plentiful. The show goes on!

Stage Ten

Amelie les Bains to Girona

190KM / 4650M

Main climbs:
Boussells, Mollo, Gascons, Coma del Mas, Bosc del Margalla, Portell.

A lumpy start across some short, narrow climbs until we reach the Mediterranean coast to begin our tour of the Banyuls vineyards, choosing the high roads for vast views of the vines and azur sea. Once back into Spain roads become more rolling, tarmac perfect and we roll our way along the coast until it's time to climb inland and up to the impressive monastery at the top of the Margalla climb. From here we weave our way along quite lanes across the plain towards Girona where we end our journey by climbing the favourite local climb known as Los Engels, just outside Girona.

That green : only the Pyrenees has got this version of the Life-Celbration colour. Roads are to be shared. Pyrenees roads can be pretty busy, but not usually with vehicles! Port de Bales. One of those places that reveal what is so different and special about the Pyrenees. Gorges are as much part of the Pyrenees as the high open plateaux. So generous.  Although the drier eastern end of the Pyrenees has more brown than green, the mid-event stages give us green generously. Heavy horses with such grace. Only the Pyrenees! Light-play on green. Feel-good colour. The Pyrenees is where we can 'resource' better than most places. That green again! Sunlight spotting a particularly nice patch of it! Col d'Azet. Got everything that the Pyrenees can give. In buckets!