When Chris Froome cycled to victory in the 103 rd Tour de France, he became a record-breaker as Britain’s first three-time winner of the 21-stage race.
The Tour de France saw 22 teams of professional cyclists compete for the yellow jersey to be crowned the winner on the Champs Elysees after some 3,519 miles and 20 days of racing. Froome’s historic win will inspire a new generation of cyclists to take to the saddle as well as spurring on those already mad for the sport.
Cycling fever reached an all time high in the UK in 2014 when Yorkshire hosted the Grand Depart stage of the famous French competition. Thousands headed to the county to watch the race and cheer on the world’s best cyclists in a spectacular two-day event.
But for those looking to combine a passion for two wheels, caffeine and Lycra with a holiday, a trip to mainland Europe can offer an idyllic break that combines sun and sea too.
To help those planning a cycling holiday, Escape Travel Card has put together a list of the top cycling destinations in Europe based on the most popular locations for cycle hire among its customer base.
The Escape Travel Card makes the perfect piece of cycling kit along side sun block and sunglasses on a trip abroad; the ultimate solution to travel currency for cyclists. Accepted everywhere MasterCard is, users load the card with sterling and conversion is done at the point of use with no transaction charges on purchases abroad.
Joanne Briggs from Escape Travel Card, said: “We’ve seen a huge increase in spend from cardholders on cycle hire when abroad in the last four years, up 48 per cent on previous years. The legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the Grand Depart in Yorkshire means that people are more interested in both watching and taking part in the sport when abroad.
“ Combining a holiday with cycling is the perfect mix of activity and relaxation for many holidaymakers and we’ve been able to identify hub spots in Europe using our data. Our list includes destinations with a long cycling history as well as some newcomers. Europe without a doubt offers some excellent routes with stunning views and fascinating cultures to explore post-ride.”
Escape’s Top European Cycling Destinations:
- Croatia – with a stunning 300-mile coastline as well as lush mountains and green national parks, this is a relatively new destination for road cyclists and mountain bikers. Head to Dalmatia to visit the wine growing region of Pelješac and, to the south of the peninsula, the island of Mljet, with its national park along with the UNESCO protected towns of Trogir, Hvar, Stari Grad and Korcula. Or cycle across the Istrian peninsula, through untouched landscapes dotted with pretty villages, rivers, valleys and forests.
- Italy – trek through Tuscany with its smooth roads for racing and rugged cycle paths for off-roading. Stop off in historic cities such as Florence, Pisa, Siena, to get a taste of Italy’s rustic charm and wind your way through Chianti from the comfort of your own two wheels.
- France – sport cyclists can head to the mountains whereas novices or leisure cyclists can head to the flatter, straighter roads in the north of the country. France is well served by cycling routes and itineraries and the ‘voies verts’ are great for safe family cycling along canal towpaths and country routes. Bike through Brittany, with landmark places such as Mont St Michel and Rennes, or through the Champagne–Ardennes region to cycle through Dom Perignon’s vineyards, the historic cities of Reims and Epernay.
- Spain – with its diverse scenery including sparse plateaus, green mountains and sunny coastal plains cyclists will be spoilt for choice. The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalucía has some of the highest villages in Spain while the northern Basque country offers climbing trails through San Sebastian, Bilbao, with its Guggenheim museum, and the Pyrenees, while families can cycle along the Camino de Santiago.
- Alpine route – the Alps have played host to many international cyclists but the joy is that there are routes for seasoned professionals as well as for novices or families. With a choice of Alps crossing France, Italy, Switzerland, choose from some of the best cycling climbs in the world with hairpin bends, steep gradients, barren landscapes and snow-capped peaks. Pass through the Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, Verbier and and Zermatt, for a beautiful backdrop to your cycling trip.
If you’re heading to Europe this summer for cycling holiday, visit http://www.escapetravelcard.com and sign up for an Escape currency card.
Summary of features and benefits of the Escape Travel Card
Escape costs just £10 to purchase. This fee is refunded if the card is loaded with £100 within 30 days of application
Free to make purchases abroad
Add a companion card for £2.50
Withdraw cash at over 2.1 million ATMs overseas for FREE* if you withdraw over £100 or equivalent.
Maximum load £2000
The card can be topped up via bank transfer, at the Post Office, PayPoint locations, or at selected travel agents.
Order online at www.escapetravelcard.com (Allow 7-10 working days for cards to arrive.)
Instant issue cards are available from various outlets across the UK, giving consumers instant access to their cards. Please visit http://www.escapetravelcard.com/find-local-branch/ to find a retailer near you.
For further editorial information or to request hi-res images and samples, please contact Rebecca Ore or Kim Butigan at JAMpr Ltd:
Tel: 0161 850 0565 E: Rebecca@jampr.co.uk / Kim@jampr.co.uk
The Escape Travel Money Prepaid MasterCard Card is issued by IDT Financial Services Limited pursuant to a license from MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard and the MasterCard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated. IDT Financial Services Limited is a regulated bank, licensed by the Financial Services Commission, Gibraltar. Registered Office: 57-63 Line Wall Road, Gibraltar. Registered No. 95716. All communications should be sent to Escape Travel, PO Box 3753, Chester, CH1 9UH.