Why France?

Grand Tours Project Team

Mar / 10 / 2021

We invited two of our guests, Fiks Dlamini (FD) and José Aguayo (JA), to explain their reasons for choosing to ride in France. We hope that with their own words you get a taste of riding in France.

Why France?

Fiks Dlamini I am a keen cyclist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’ve always followed the TDF on TV - the greatest and most fascinating of the grand tours. I had made a promise to myself that one day I would go and watch it live. When the route for the 2018 TDF was announced and saw that Alpe d´Huez was on the route, my mind was made up that I must go and watch. When I started doing my planning for the trip I came across Grand Tours Project with their tours and the seed was planted. I was able to ride 6 alpine stages of the tour – Annecy to Carcassone. Little did I know, it was going to turn out to the best holiday experience I have ever had in many ways.

Above: Fiks Dlamini

José Aguayo Since my earlier days of cycling, going to France was always a dream, a kind of pilgrimage. The birthplace of cycling, the Tour de France and epic mountain passes. In 2019, after extensive research for a cycling trip to France, I stumbled upon Grand Tours Project and their experiences. I could not believe my luck, that they offered a Tour de France trip. Not only following the same route and distance, but having the option to choose a week or the whole of the tour.

Above: José Aguayo -

What did you like the most?

FD Riding full stages was not only a physical test but a mental one. The one thing that struck me is the love the French, young to old, had for the TDF. It was amazing to see them come out in huge numbers to support the riders.

JA My favourite experience can not be summarized to one single day, event or activity. From the beginning, being able to experience the South of France with the bulls “encierros” charging through the streets, the changing of topography with olive fields giving way to a sea of purple lavender reflecting their colour in the clouds and their aroma. Climbing the alps with their majestic views and the breath-taking descents. Finishing this epic trip arriving in Paris and cycling through the city, ending in Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe can not be described, it has to be experienced.

Which pass did you enjoy the most?

FD I obviously thoroughly enjoyed going up Alpe d’Huez . I imagined myself as a pro going through the switch-backs with fans cheering me on to the summit. However, the one col that I enjoyed or should I say endured, the most was the Col de le Croix de Fer, which I tackled after having already climbed Col de la Madeleine earlier on the day. The Col de le Croix de Fer, gave me a newfound respect for the professionals - I could not believe how steep the gradient was. When I summited, I was so pleased with myself, that I had achieved something that few amateur cyclists had.

JA Climbing my all-time favourite the Col du Galibier and the serenity of the Col de I’Iseran, the highest paved pass in the alps. I can not forget the roads covered with hundreds of caravans / RVs and people cheering you on as you climb the legendary ascents.

How was the experience with Grand Tours Project?

FD If it was not for Grand Tor Project there is no way in hell I would have been able to complete the 6 full stages. The support I received from when I was planning the trip to when I left was impeccable. Not only was the organization en point from a cycling viewpoint, but the time to take in the local cuisine and sights at every stop was also most welcome. Grand tours Project made the logistics of moving from town to town so seamless and I am sure that took a lot of organization on their side. The support and encouragement I got while cycling was also great. I have made long-life friends with the GTP team.

JA This trip could not have happened without the great organization of the GTP team. Especially Uri, the super guide and Joel “the utility man”. Wow thanks again guys. I can not wait to do it again, the memories, the camaraderie, the incredible rides and of course the food.

What would you say to those cyclists who want to explore France?

FD The scenery is absolutely out of this world and breath-taking. Yes ride your bike but also give yourself time to enjoy the sights and culture. Take it in, it is an experience like no other. Take as many pictures and videos as you can. If I could turn the clock back I would have actually ridden every single stage. I have promised myself that I will return and do it again, and this time all the stages, because I have full confidence of the support from Grand Tours Project. When things are normal again, I will be back.

JA If you are contemplating to go to France and ride the TDF, look no further than GTP company. It is almost a religious experience.

GTP Thanks so much Fiks and José. We appreciate your time to paint such great images of your time in France with us. We look forward to your return and sharing a bottle or more of great French wine to toast you and riding in France.