Five reasons why Bern should be your next cycling holiday

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Five reasons why you should consider Bern for your next cycling holiday

Sponsored feature: the Tour de France heads to Switzerland this year - and you should too

The French and Italian Alps are intrinsically linked to cycling, both at professional level through the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, and for amateur riders heading for the mountains. But could your next cycling holiday be better served in the Swiss Alps?

Capital city Bern – birthplace of one Fabian Cancellara – welcomes the Tour de France in July, with the peloton riding two stages in Switzerland either side of the final rest day.

Should you be heading to Switzerland for your next cycling holiday?

And it’s easy to see why race organisers ASO have been tempted across the border, with Bern not only a fine city in its own right but a great base for cycling, too.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should consider Switzerland’s Bern region for your next cycling holiday.

The Tour de France is coming

Bern hosts the finish of stage 16 of this year’s race on July 18 – before the final rest day – and the peloton then departs the city for stage 17 on July 20.

Set against the backdrop of the Bernese Alps and Bernese Jura, stage 17 tackle some of Switzerland’s most picturesque mountain passes.

This will be the first time the Tour has been to the Swiss capital, though the peloton has already been welcomed in Zurich, Geneva and Basel.

Anybody who has followed the race at close quarters will know the impact the arrival of the Tour de France has – just look at Yorkshire in 2014 for a sign of the party heading Bern’s way.

Events planned include the Tour Festival in Bern, the day before the peloton’s arrival, where you can ride on the Tour route and enjoy a big bike festival in Parliament square.

Stage 16 finishes near the Stade de Suisse, and stage 17 kicks off in front of the same venue with the peloton passing through the historic Bern Old Town and the Gantrisch Nature Park.

Fabian Cancellara was born in Bern and the Tour de France heads through the region in July (Pic: Sirotti)

Some 133km are covered in the Canton of Bern, before the stage eventually heads out of the region for a summit finish on the Emosson Dam – a potentially pivotal stage for the GC men.

What better excuse to book yourself a trip away, to coincide with the Tour’s arrival in the beautiful city?

It’s in the heart of the Alps

The Canton of Bern incorporates the Bernese Oberland – the north side of the Bernese Alps – so there is plenty of exploring to be done by bike.

As you would expect from the Alps, you’ll find quaint villages, stunning scenery and towering mountain passes a plenty.

The Canton of Bern is in the heart of the Swiss Alps

And it’s not just good for cycling – the highest train station in Europe is located at Jungfraujoch and the gondola cableway from Grindewald to the Mannlichen is the world’s longest of its kind.

Lake Thun is just one kilometre from Bern’s Old Town, while vineyards and the Spiez castle also contribute to the stunning backdrop.

Stunning routes, challenging climbs

If you want to take on Switzerland’s Alpine passes then you’ll find more than 500km GPS routes mapped out for the the mountainous Saanenland area.

Those routes include the 59km ‘Gstaads 4 Finger Loop’, which climbs the short but steep Groubenberg and Mur de Lauenen.

The area around Gstaad offers plenty of beautiful but challenging routes for cycling

The ‘Strade Bianche di Simmental’ is just shy of 80km in length and includes the 18.8km, six per cent average gradient of the Gestelenpass and its – as the name suggests – white gravel road section.

Meanwhile, fans of the Tour de Suisse and Tour de Romandie can take on the Col du Pillon (22.6km at five per cent) and Col de la Croix (18.5km at 6.8 per cent) on the 121km ‘Tour de la Reine Sud’, which features 2,830m of climbing in all.

The Alpenbrevet sportive takes place on Saturday August 27, offering five routes from the 38km ‘Furka’ to the monstrous 276km ‘PlatinTour’

If you fancy travelling later in the summer, the Alpenbrevet sportive takes place on Saturday August 27, offering five routes from the 38km ‘Furka’ to the monstrous 276km ‘PlatinTour’.

Departing from Meiring (canton of Bern), the latter includes five Swiss Alpine passes and packs in 7,000m of climbing in all.

Beautiful Bern

There are plenty of places to stay throughout the region, including the beautiful mountain town of Gstaad, but the city of Bern itself is also worth a visit.

Stunning views over the Bernese Alps are a given, while Bern’s preserved old city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The city of Bern itself is well worth a visit

The Zytglogge clock tower, Federal Palace and Albert Einstein’s house are also on the tourist checklist.

Oh, and there’s no shortage of cheese and chocolate to enjoy either…

Bike friendly hotels

Throughout the Bern region you’ll find a number of bike-friendly hotels geared up specifically for cyclists.

The Congress Hotel Seepark in Thun offers guided day and half-day tours, free bike rentals and secure bike parking.

There are plenty of bike friendly hotels to choose from

Grindewald’s Hotel Lauberhorn has a workshop with assembly stand, lubricants, pump and basic supplies, alongside bike washing facilities and free laundry for sports clothing.

If you want to base yourself in Gstaad, the long-standing Hotel Kernen offers private guided tours, bike rental and a workshop.

Tempted? For more information, or to plan your next cycling holiday, visit the Made in Bern website.

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