The newly-announced Mercan’Tour cyclosportive takes place in southern France on 19 June 2016 and takes in the Col de la Bonette. At 2802m, it’s higher than the Galibier at 2645m, as crested on the Marmotte and the Stelvio which tops out at 2757m.
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The sportive starts in the town of Guillaumes and offers a 180km circular route including the Bonette, as well as the Col de la Couillole at 1678m and the Col de la Cayolle at 2326m. There’s 4600m of climbing involved and five feed stations along the way.
The ride finishes in Valberg, from where it’s 13km – all downhill – back to the start in Guillaumes, where you can tuck into the included post-ride meal of local products.
There’s also a short route of 119km with 2700m of climbing which is an out and back route to Barcelonnette and takes in both sides of the Cayolle but skips the Couillole and the Bonette.
The sportive has been granted special access to the Mercantour national park: at 70000 hectares one of France’s largest unspoilt landscapes and home to the Bonette, as well as ibexes, vultures and wolves.
A collaboration between the Cycling Club Alpes Azur and Café du Cycliste, the high-quality French clothing brand, the Mercan’Tour will be led by ex-pro Nicolas Fritsch, who rode both the Tour and Giro during his career.
There’s an ecological side to the ride too, with a tree planted for each rider to provide an environmental legacy. The ride is also designed to have minimal impact on the park.