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The Santini GF Mont Ventoux amateur sportive is an event to savour. It features a summit finish on the ‘Beast of Provence’. The 135 km event takes you through the beautiful region of Provence where vineyards and scenic beauty cover the rolling landscape. After a few tough warm-up climbs you take on the great mountain, Mont Ventoux. It should never be underestimated.

Santini-gf-mont-ventouxOnce you've ridden Mont Ventoux you'll know what to expect in the Santini GF!

If you have never ridden Mont Ventoux before this will be a test of your limits. It challenges you in every way a cyclist can be challenged. Consider:

  • Physically: The gradients are demanding exceeding 10%+ in some places.
  • Psychologically: Once you break the treeline at Chalet Reynard, Mont Ventoux has a way of making you feel small. It has its own weather system at the top of the mountain and what was a wonderful sunny day when you started the climb can be radically different as you get closer to the summit.
    If this is not enough the last 6 kms are barren rock. If you’re having a bad day this can impact you negatively. If you’re having a good day this can be a motivator to finish the last 6 kms and relish your moment of triumph.The mountain itself is a foreboding presence towering over Provence and other cols in the region.
  • Weather: Mont Ventoux is known for having harsh challenging winds as well as its own microclimate. Most tours operate in the summer months to avoid this. The mountain is normally closed in the winter.
  • Pacing: It can be hard to get the pacing right on Mont Ventoux as riders have a natural tendency to start faster than they should. It is exciting to ride this legendary col and it is both an event and an achievement to complete the climb.

Preparing for the Santini GF Mont Ventoux 

Given the uniqueness and the challenge of Mont Ventoux it is a good idea to ride it before the sportive. This will help you prepare for your big event and with the ‘Beast of Provence,’ this is invaluable. Riding with it SportActive will give you a feel for the great col and you will ride other routes that will feature in the sportive through the beautiful region of Provence.


  • Once you have ridden Mont Ventoux you will know what to expect when you climb it in the sportive
  • You will be able to pace yourself more effectively and you will have a better idea of nutritional and hydration requirements to finish the sportive. This will be far more difficult if you are going in ‘blind’.
  • You will feel more confident when you ride the Santini GF Mont Ventoux and will be able to give a good, quite possibly your best performance to date.
  • You will enjoy the sportive more as Mont Ventoux will not be such an unknown entity.

This is a high profile sportive on the amateur circuit. Especially as the new pro race is a few days later.

The Legend of Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux has been the scene of tragedy, controversy, and the best cycling moments in history. It is a mountain that even the pros respect given the unique nature of the challenges.

Tips for Riding the Santini GF Mont Ventoux

Consider utilising these tips to ride the sportive:

  • When training put in distance rides until you build up considerable fitness. Then implement climbs into your training programmes. This worked wonders for the Legend Sean Kelly!
  • Study the course so you know where the feed stations are and try to identify segments that are going to be particularly challenging in terms of gradients and weather.
  • Ensure you know your nutritional requirements for the sportive. Use your training sessions to work out when you need to take food and drink.
  • Always stay hydrated. This cannot be overstated.
  • If you are not completely confident about the sportive try the shorter distance and the longer distance when you feel ready.
  • Try and ride Mont Ventoux before the sportive. This will give you invaluable knowledge as to pacing. Best of all try and ride the tour with SportActive.

SportActive’s Mont Ventoux Tour

SportActive’s tour features two climbs of Mont Ventoux and additional rides through Provence. The rides are designed to challenge you and show this beautiful region of France. Our expert pro cycling coach Martin heads up a highly experienced team that will pass on coaching advice. This tour is invaluable at preparing for the sportive.

Discover the tour here or download the brochure here.

Source: Santini GF

Submitted: 23/4/19
Updated: 23/12/19


For many people, France is the home of cycling. It possesses beautiful countryside and awe inspiring mountain ranges. It has a comprehensive road network which is well maintained. From a cycling perspective, this is fantastic. Smooth roads to ride and natural challenges of her mountain ranges have drawn cyclists from all over the world. The rolling hills and countryside are a great tourist attraction for both cyclists and non-cyclists alike.

The natural challenges France offers cycling has led to the development of the most iconic cycling races. The most famous of which and one of the biggest sporting events on the planet is The Tour de France.

Le Tour was started in 1903 by the magazine owners of L’Auto with the aim of boosting its circulation. The race was ridden in six stages very different to the 21 stages ridden today. The total distance covered in 1903 was 2,482 kms and was won by Maurice Garin with a time of 93 hr, 33m, 14s. The stages ridden in 1903 were a lot longer than those ridden today.

On average each stage was 400 kms. They used to start at night and take around 17 hours to complete. In 1903 the rules allowed riders to abandon a stage and compete in the subsequent stages. Riders that didn’t finish a stage, however, were out of the overall competition. Of the 60 riders that started the race, only 21 finished.

The tour challenges professional cyclists who take on the most challenging cols in France. Although the route changes slightly year on year, the classic cols of La Bonette and Mont Ventoux have regularly featured.The cols do not only test the professional riders. Amateur cyclists and those that want to experience French wonder and beauty cycle them as well. This has led to French cycling holidays, tours, and sportives becoming more in demand from riders who want to emulate the pros by testing their skills in the French Alps and Pyrénées.

france-road-cycling-french-sportiveFrance has some of the best road cycling routes and events in the world

Popular French Cycling Routes

La Route des Grande Alpes – Geneva to Nice

La Route des Grande Alpes is a legendary cycling journey. Starting in Geneva and riding south across the French Alps it culminates in Nice on the Mediterranean coast. Distances vary but it normally spans 550kms. This route is only open in the summer as snow and ice in the winter months close many of the roads.

La Route des Grande Alpes features some of the best climbs France has to offer and arguably some of the best climbs in the world. This includes col de la Bonette, the highest through road in Europe, Izoard, and Galibier. These cols are regularly used in the Tour de France.

It should be noted that there is a choice of routes to cross the French Alps. The better tour operators feature the better more famous cols to provide the best cycling experience. Many tours feature at least 10 alpine passes.

Geneva to Nice offers challenge that cyclists relish. There is pacing to consider as the distance is considerable, there are climbing challenges as you ride col after col, and then there are descending challenges as this is a skill in itself.

One surprising aspect is that mountain life, like city life, has its own culture. Many riders experience this for the first time and it is an enlightening experience. The splendour of the French Alps and the city of Nice are big draws to this particular cycling tour. As is the sense of adventure. It offers riders some of the best mountain views in the world, and it is believed by many that this tour should be ridden at least once in a cycling career.

Once you arrive in Nice many celebrate with a glass of bubbly and swim in the Mediterranean Sea weather permitting.

Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux is a col that has inspired philosopher ramblings and has made cycling legends. This unique cycling challenge is believed to be one of the toughest climbs in cycling. It is not just the steep gradients that make Mont Ventoux a tough climb. This col has its own weather system at its summit, so a hot day at the start of the climb can change drastically when you break the treeline at Chalet Reynard.

The last 6 kms of Ventoux appears like a lunar landscape as no vegetation grows here and all that can be seen is barren limestone rock. This can affect you negatively or positively. If you have struggled on the climb the ‘lunar landscape’ may dampen your spirits. Alternatively, with the weather station at the top coming into view you may well feel inspired to keep going knowing you are going to reach the summit.

Mont Ventoux’s legendary status, however, goes beyond the climbing challenge. In 1967, during the Tour de France, British rider Tom Simpson died trying to ride Mont Ventoux. He rode the Mont Ventoux stage after coming under pressure from his manager. A post-mortem showed he had high alcohol and amphetamine levels and it is believed he was suffering from a stomach complaint.

On a brighter note, the first man to ride Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France was Lucien Lazarides in 1951. Ventoux was not a summit finish but part of the stage. Lazarides achieved a podium finish that year and went down in history as the first man to ride Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France!

In 1958 Charly Gaul became the first man to win the Mont Ventoux summit finish stage. He won the tournament overall that year and became the fastest man to ride the great mountain. His 1h 2m 9s time would stand for 31 years.

The fastest man to ride Mont Ventoux was Iban Mayo Diez. In 2004 competing in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré he achieved a time of 55m 51s. Although he showed promise he tested positive for doping in 2007 and received a two-year ban. He did not return to the sport.

Mont Ventoux has been the scene of controversial battles. One of the most famous is between Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani. When it seemed clear that Armstrong would win he seemed to give the victory to Pantani. Armstrong's motives remain a mystery to this day.

The Madmen of Ventoux

Mont Ventoux’s legendary status in cycling circles has led to ‘Le Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux’. In English, this translates to ‘The club of the madmen from Mont Ventoux’. To become a member you must:Ride the three routes of Bédoin to Ventoux, Malaucène to Ventoux and Sault to Ventoux on the same day.

Many tour operators offer riders the chance to do this as a custom cycling tour. If you manage to achieve this you are indeed an exceptional cyclist.

French Cycling Sportives

There are many exciting sportives to ride in France. Given her cycling pedigree, they are designed to emulate the Tour de France and other pro events. Two of the most famous that give this Tour de France like experience are Marmotte Granfondo Alps and the newer Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées. Here, the emphasis is on climbing famous cols that pro riders take on in the big tournaments.

Marmotte Granfondo Alps features riding four Tour de France legendary cols in one day. It is considered the longest alpine sportive in Europe and one of the toughest. Cols include:

  • Glandon: 1924m, 21.3kms, 6.9% average, 12% max
  • Télégraphe: 1556m, 11.8kms, 7.3% average, 12% max
  • Galibier: 2654m, 22kms, 6.9% average, 12% max
  • Alpe d'Huez: 1860m, 13.8kms, 8.1% average, 13% max

Marmotte Alps features a distance of 174kms, 5000 altimetres. The challenges include pacing, climbing, peloton riding, and descending. Very similar to the challenges pro riders face year on year. It is one of the closest amateur cycling events to a pro stage in the Tour de France.

The better tour operators ensure pro-style support and take of logistics.

Mamotte Granfondo Pyrénées is a newcomer to the Sportive arena beginning in 2016 but is already forging a well deserved reputation as one of the toughest sportives on the amateur circuit. It is considered the little sister to Mamotte Granfondo Alps featuring cols from the Tour de France and Vuelta. Cols include:

  • Col du Tourmalet from Luz St Sauveur : 2115 metres, 18km, 7.4% average, 13% max
  • La Hourquette d'Ancizan : 1564 metres 22km, 4% average, 12% max
  • Col d'Aspin: 1489 metres, 12km, 6.5% average, 9.5% max
  • Col du Tourmalet from Ste Marie de Campan : 2115 metres, 17km, 7.4% average, 10% max
  • Hautacam - col de Tramassel: 1635 metres, 13km, 8% average, 11% max

In total riders cover 165km and 5,600+ altimeters ridden in one day. Like its sister tour operators that offer pro-style support are preferred to those that simply offer registration.As Marmotte Alps is ridden in July and Marmotte Pyrénées is ridden in August, it is possible to approach these as separate stages in your own personal Tour de France. This offers a great way to experience both sportives and to savour the splendour of the surroundings. Many riders from overseas stay on a few days after the big events to do that.France has something to offer every cyclist that wishes to test their limits. It offers spectacular scenery as well as challenges that few places in the world can match.

Submitted: 14/04/2019

The Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées sportive is a new event to the amateur circuit. Started in 2016 the sportive is growing in popularity as it offers cyclists a unique climbing challenge in the French Pyrénées Mountain Range. It is from the same organisers as Marmotte Granfondo Alps and is considered a sister event. 

marmotteh-pyrenees-france-sportive-sportactiveMake Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées Sportive your 2019 cycling challenge

Marmotte Pyrénées sportive features the following cols:

  • Col du Tourmalet from Luz St Sauveur : 2115 metres, 18km, 7.4% average, 10.2% max
  • La Hourquette d'Ancizan : 1564 metres 22km, 4% average, 12% max
  • Col d'Aspin: 1489 metres, 12km, 6.5% average, 9.5% max
  • Col du Tourmalet from Ste Marie de Campan : 2115 metres, 17km, 7.4% average, 10% max
  • Hautacam - col de Tramassel: 1635 metres, 13km, 8% average, 11% max

Given its French Spanish border location they’re used in the Vuelta and Tour de France races. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Col du Tourmalet is the highest paved road in the Pyrénées and it is the most used climb in the Tour de France. Last year, it was used in the great race for the 86th time. It has been used as a summit finish in 1974 and 2010, and La Mongie, a small village not far from the summit has been used as a stage finish 3 times. The Vuelta has also included this hors category col in some editions.

The col is ridden twice in Marrotte Pyrénées. At the start you approach it from Luz St Sauveur, and later from Ste Marie de Campan. When you climb this col you’ll know that many greats of the sport have ridden the col too. This gives you a feeling of becoming part of cycling history.

La Hourquette d'Ancizan is a category 1 climb and has been used in the Tour de France 3 times. It will also feature in the 2019 edition of le tour! Approaching from the East, the climb has a few intense sections where gradients hit 12% but keep going as the gradients ease off a little after that.

Although it is not as widely used in the big tournaments it is still offers plenty of challenge and spectacular views.

In the Marmotte Pyrénées sportive col d’Aspin is approached from the east and starts out quite gentle with 4% gradients. The further you ascend, however, and the tougher it gets with gradients hitting 8 and 9% respectively. The climb is worth undertaking as the views from the summit are stunning.

The col has been used in the Tour de France over 70 times and was first used in 1910. It is normally used in conjunction with Tourmalet as they are very close together. Over the last ten years, however, the organisers have opted for La Hourquette d’Ancizan which is considered a little more difficult. Nonetheless, Aspin remains a great challenging ride.

The col has also featured in the Vuelta race.

Col de Tramassel gives you the hardest gradients at the beginning which is followed by a softening of the harsh inclines. Towards the end the gradients bite again hitting 8 and 9% respectively. The col is considered a hard ride by the pros. The roads undulating nature makes it difficult to maintain a natural rhythm. As it is the last ascent of the sportive this can be a test. Keep going, however, as the finish line will be in sight!

The col has not been utilised by organisers of the big races. It has only appeared five times in the Tour de France. In 2014 it was a stage finish and Albert Contador commented that the col is “really hard, and especially because it is the last mountain stage of the 2014 Tour.”

Riding Marmotte Pyrénées Sportive

Although new the sportive is one you should attempt once in your cycling career. Challenge, the pro event feel, and spectacular views combine to make the sportive one of the best you can ride. Perhaps the feeling you are adding to cycling’s rich history by riding the roads ridden by legends is the best reason to ride it of all.

Source: Cycling Cols

Published: 08/02/19 

Updated: 01/7/19 

What a great cycling year 2018 turned out to be. We loved it so much we put together this little video to celebrate. Thank you for making the last year so good!

Happy Christmas & New Year from SportActive

Your Christmas Gift from SportActive! Mallorca Early Bird Festive Price Freeze!

Ride any Mallorca cycling holiday between 16/02/2019 to the 11/04/2019 at the Early Bird Price!

Get your Gift! Send your booking between 24/12/2018 and 15/1/2019

Save up to 46 € per person! Let’s make 2019 an even better year. Click here to book and ride at the Early Bird Price.

Applies to all Mallorca Cycling holidays up to the 11th April 2019! Book Now!

  • Early Season Camp Details – This includes free hire bike and airport transfers! Train sooner, get better faster! From 499 €/pps, 16th Feb to 16th Mar 2019.
  • Mallorca Cycling Training Camp Details – Ride Mallorca’s smooth roads improving your skills in a cycling paradise. From 746 €/pps, 16th Mar to 11th Apr 2019.
  • Mallorca Cycling for Beginners - Improve at your pace learning the right techniques.  From 782 €/pps, 30th Mar to 11th Apr 2019
  • Mallorca Leisure Cycling - Discover's Mallorca's culture, beaches, and smooth roads riding guided tours. From 782 €/pps, 30th Mar to 11th Apr 2019

 Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year, and we’ll see you in 2019 for more brilliant cycling in Mallorca and France!


Submitted: 23/12/2018

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About SportActive

We've made it our mission to make your experience of cycling in Mallorca one of the most incredible of your life

Every member of the cycle training team at SportActive is a passionate and accomplished cyclist in their own right, not to mention an expert in cycle training. Indeed, it was after taking part in numerous races across Europe, America and Australia that Flora and I eventually decided to set up SportActive in order to offer a new approach to training for cyclists. Having experienced the very best that cycling clubs had to offer, we wanted to make these experiences accessible to everybody, which eventually led us to found SportActive - a unique cycling break company, committed to help cyclists at all levels improve their skills and have fun doing so.


Contact SportActive

28 Gelvin Gardens, Trench Road, L/Derry, BT472DQ, N Ireland
Tel office : 0044/ (0)287136 5997

Martin Birney - 0044/ (0)75 997 191 79 or 00353/ (0)86 196 6006

Flora Mittermair
Landline : 0033/ (0)4 78 59 18 90 (leave voice message only on mobile number) or Mobile : 0033 / (0)6 99 79 12 54