The Alpine Express – Type 1 Diabetes A4D Charity Challenge 2020


  • Charity challenge to raise funds for children with Type 1 diabetes
  • Climb the legendary Tour de France Alpine cols: Iseran, Télégraphe, Galibier, Alpe d’Huez and the famous Lacets de Montvernier
  • Flexible itinerary to suit mixed ability groups with optional extras for those looking for a challenge
  • Optional Classic Cols challenge: over 670km and 17,000m ascent
  • Comfortable and friendly 2 and 3* hotels with local cuisine geared to cyclists
  • Raise funds for charity: we will donate 10% of the basic trip cost to A4D, you raise a minimum of £500 in sponsorship
  • Excellent support from 2 customised support vans and 2 experienced, proactive guides focused on making your holiday the best it can be

Days on the bike

6 days

Tough, challenging, but really well organised & excellent support.

L Dewhurst


The Alpine Express is a unique charity road cycling challenge in aid of Action4Diabetics (A4D). The aim is to raise enough money to support 150 young people with Type 1 Diabetes in Southeast Asia for a whole year.

The A4D Cycle Challenge 2020 has been specifically designed for riders of all abilities, with short and long route options on each day – every rider has the opportunity to enjoy and challenge themselves.

The route has been carefully crafted to take in the most scenic cols and testing stage endings the Savoie Alps have to offer. Our tantalising circular route includes the infamous Tour de France climbs of the Cormet de Roselend, l’Iseran, Télégraphe, Col du Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, Croix-de-Fer and la Madeleine.

Our Classic route starts as gently as the Alps allow, gradually cranking up the daily altitude gain from 1200 to 2100m during the week. Each day there are ‘optional extras’ increasing the possible daily ascent to over 2600m, thus making this holiday suitable for those looking to really push themselves and do the Classic Cols Challenge.

The week will be a real escape; riding on quiet roads through the dramatic mountain scenery of the Alps with far-reaching views is a joy, not to mention the sense of achievement as you summit these climbs.

To achieve the goal of supporting 150 children with Type 1 Diabetes for one year, every rider is encouraged to contribute by raising £500 for the cause. In addition, Marmot Tours will donate 10% of the basic trip cost to A4D.

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Departure Dates & Prices

Single Room Supplement
17th Jul - 24th Jul
Single Room Sup. £315.00

We are pleased to offer the following discount on the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):

  • Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount

Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.



Day 0: Travel Out

Included transfers from Geneva airport to Albertville (1hr 30).

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.

Meet your guides and have a welcome briefing and great dinner.

Day 1: Albertville to Séez

You will love this ‘lost paradise’ with its lush pastures and quiet roads. Follow the River Doron to the beautiful market town of Beaufort for a coffee and cake, before the road changes tempo and you climb up through the forest to the stunning Lac de Roselend and a well-positioned restaurant. The final 7km of the Cormet de Roselend (1967m) climb are a delight. From here you descend into Bourg-St Maurice and then on to the town of Séez. Those left still wanting can take on the legendary Col de Petit St Bernard (2188m) – a climb with nothing ‘petit’ about it!

Classic route: Cormet de Roselend [61km, 1650m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: Cormet de Roselend + Col de Petit St Bernard [119km, 3000m ascent][Ride Profile]

Day 2: Séez to Lanslevillard

The savage climb up the Col d’Iseran (2764m), the 2nd highest road in Europe, starts just outside Bourg St Maurice and keeps on going up (for about 50km!). Initially, you are on a fairly busy road but the cars soon give way to marmots and you can enjoy the massive views. What goes up must come down and the 30km descent down to Lanslevillard is truly magnificent – and well deserved. Some of you may feel the need to visit the café on the top of Col du Mont-Cenis (2083m) at the end of the day and if you feel that doing over 3000m of ascent is essential, then making a detour up to the stage ending of Tignes/Val Claret (2007m) will no doubt be tempting. Tonight we stay in the ski resort of Lanslevillard.

Classic route: Col d’Iseran [75km, 1995m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: Tignes + Col d’Iseran + Col du Mont-Cenis [109km, 3000m ascent] [Ride Profile]

Day 3: Lanslevillard to La Grave

Today you find out why French cyclists call the Col du Galibier the ‘Giant of the Northern Alps’! Climb steadily over the Col du Télégraphe (1568m) followed by a short descent to the town of Valloire for a snack. Then the ‘real climb’ – 22km of astonishingly beautiful cycling! Rather pleasingly, it’s ‘down’ for the rest of the day, to the charming resort of La Grave. As for extras: the first, early in the day, is up to the ski resort of Valmeinier (1800m) and the second takes you back up the Col du Galibier (2646m) from the south… well, it is the challenge route after all!

Classic route: Col du Télégraphe + Col du Galibier [98km, 2090m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: Valmeinier + Col du Télégraphe + Col du Galibier north & south [total: 130km, 3260m ascent] [Ride Profile]

Day 4: La Grave to l'Alpe d'Huez

The Alpe d’Huez (1845m) has been used over 25 times in the TdF since 1952 and is the grand finale of ‘La Marmotte’ (the cyclosportive). Despite 21 relentless hairpin bends, it is actually one of the easier climbs on your tour, so you should be done and dusted by lunchtime. To follow, an afternoon soaking up the sunshine from the balcony of the hotel or a bit of retail therapy in the many bike kit shops in town.

If relaxing does not come naturally then the optional extra 27km climb to La Bérarde (1713m) in the heart of the Écrins National Park in the morning or meandering along to the picturesque Col de Sarenne (1999m) at the end of the day are both good options.

Classic route: l’Alpe d’Huez [42km, 1125m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: La Bérarde + L’Alpe d’Huez + Sarenne [114km, 2545m ascent] [Ride Profile]

Day 5: l'Alpe d'Huez to St Jean de Maurienne

Descend first thing, traversing down the Oisans valley, before taking on la Croix-de-Fer (2067m). Gradients are generally kind except for a few really mean sections! However, there is great café halfway up!  From the Col, you descend down into St Jean de Maurienne. As always there are options for those wanting more. Firstly, a detour up to the remote and beautiful Col du Mollard (1630m). The second is the much-feared TdF stage ending of La Toussuire (1705m)!

Classic route: Col de la Croix de Fer [75km, 1550m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: Col de la Croix de Fer + Mollard + La Toussuire [117km, 3100m ascent] [Ride Profile]

Day 6: St Jean to Albertville

It may not be the longest or the highest but the Col de la Madeleine (2000m) is a cheekily steep climb, with the average gradients hovering around 8 or 9% for most of the 19km! The Col itself is a fitting finale to our trip with an amazing view of Mt Blanc to the north and the climbs you have conquered to the south. Linger as long as possible, as once over the other side you free-wheel down to Albertville, where it all began 6 (great) days ago. If you get time, it is worth wandering to the fortified town overlooking the hotel.
Today’s optional extra was a 2015 Tour classic, thanks to its hairpin bends: the Lacets de Montvernier. It leads you on to the Col du Chaussy and then neatly back to the Classic route.

Classic route: Col de la Madeleine [74km, 1550m ascent] [Ride Profile]
Challenge route: Lacets + Chaussy + Col de la Madeleine [87km with 2200m ascent] [Ride Profile]

Day 7: Travel Back

We offer included transfers from Albertville to Geneva airport.

Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.