The Basque Country is legendary for its tight steep roads much-publicized by the Pro race held each April in this region, the Vuelta al País Vasco. The climbs are short in comparison to the Pyrenean and Alpine ascents, but some can be very challenging. This is all negated though by the views, which are spectacular, so any pain is soon forgotten about.
This 6-day tour takes you from the rugged Atlantic Coast down through green rolling farmland and into dense forest where the roads are no wider than a footpath. The routes are diverse from the bustling valley roads to empty passageways thru the hills.
We will transfer you from Biarritz airport back to the 4 star hotel in Hondarribia. After building your bikes you can head out for short test ride to make sure everything is in working order, including the legs. You are on your own until the welcome meal around 19:30 where you will start to experience the tastes of the Basque Country. We will also issue you with your Road Book and goodie bag and brief on the week ahead.
After a relaxing buffet breakfast we will head off around 9am for the first stage of the tour. We stick to the Atlantic coast with coffee stop in San Sebastian after taking a short ferry crossing across the river.
There is always time for lunch and we will stop in the market square of Orio to fuel up for the afternoon climbs which come up soon after we get back on the bikes. Then it is back up to the coast before dropping inland though the forests and our final destination of Elgoibar and our hotel.
There is plenty of time to stroll through the skinning village streets and take a beer in the town square before heading back tot he hotel for the evening meal.
120.1Km (2,944m of climbing)
There is no rush leaving in the mornings, after a relaxing breakfast we will normally be out on the bikes around 9:15. Today we head south with a couple of looped circuits which are renown in the professional race. Passing through tiny villages we will stop for coffee and then onto concrete roads that you cannot believe would lead to anywhere.
The hotel sits on top of a small hill and allows for a beautiful vista while you sit on the terrace with a coffee.
107.1Km (2,907m of climbing)
After breakfast on the terrace we will roll down the hill and out of town, very quickly getting to the rural routes of the Basque Country. Heading south to the lakes of Embalse de Urrunaga and a coffee in the town of Legutio we will then turn north again following the lake and river valley and into the Urkiolako National Park. We finish the day not far from the hotel on stage 1 but a very contrasting hotel tonight which very traditional Basque cuisine...... and drinks.
111.8 Km (2,310m of climbing)
The biggest day of the tour today although only in distance as we take diagonal line down to the town of Estella. Taking in a lot of forested roads we will not see a car for a long time but don't worry, the support vehicle is never far away and will always provide road side snacks, tea and coffees.
We skirt round the Aralar National Park before riding through the middle of the Urbasa y And National Park. This drops us directly into Estella, a slight larger town than we have been used to. The hotel is modern and the food is spectacular. As always, it is worth a walk into town for a coffee or beer in the town square.
119.4 Km (2,561m of climbing)
We are waking up in a different Provence this morning, we left the Basque Country yesterday and are now in the Navarre. We head north out of Estella with the Pyrenees ahead of us. The theme of this tour is "quiet roads" and you will not be disappointed as we take the winding valley roads and forest trails.
After 5 days of riding you will no doubt be aching a little so tonights treat is a night at a Spa Hotel. You have a 70 minute spa circuit included in your holiday. This will allow you to be soaked, bubbled and steamed before your evening meal in this very modern complex.
108.8 Km (1,834m of climbing)
After a relaxing buffet breakfast we will organise our kit for the last ride of the week. We are heading to the foothills of the Pyrenees today and will cross the Spanish / French border 3 times are we criss cross the climbs. We will have our final Basque lunch in Ainhoa before taking in our first Col of the tour, the Col d'Ibardin, although it is not the prettiest with lots of Tax Free shops scattered along the route. We then navigate ourselves through the small french lanes to the hotel in Hendaye
It is then the sad part of the week when you need to pack bikes in readiness for tomorrows transfers. But we will be heading out to a traditional Basque restaurant for our final meal and maybe partake in some Basque Cider.
90.3 Km (1,967m of climbing)
After an early breakfast we will transfer you back to Toulouse for the morning flights. If you have afternoon flights then you can arrange e taxi via the hotel, it is not too far to Biarritz airport.
You will be leaving a lot fitter, physically and most definitely mentally than when you arrived. Well Done!!