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Wiggins effect to boost cycling holidays.

THE double triumph of cyclist Bradley Wiggins, inset, in both the Tour de France and the Olympics is causing a surge in demand for cycling holidays as everybody fancies a turn on the pedals, say specialist operators in the sector.

Leading ferry operator P&O says an 'invasion' of Britons on bikes is bound for France this summer. In the Pas-de-Calais, the region nearest to the UK, local tourist boards have joined forces to highlight favourite cycle routes on the website www.uk.pas-de-calais.com The 32 suggested routes are aimed at mere mortals rather than Tour de France supermen. A manageable 20 to 30 miles in length, they come with notes for points of interest along the way that are a perfect excuse to pause, take in the sights, and take a breather.

Areas covered include routes in the tranquil Seven Valleys countryside south of Boulogne, coastal rides along the Cote d'Opale between Calais and Berck-sur-Mer, routes exploring the Artois area that takes in historic Arras, and the region around St Omer. P&O Ferries sails direct to the Pas-de-Calais region with 23 departures daily on the 90-minute Dover to Calais run. Short break fares, for stays up to three days, start at pounds 39 return for car and passengers, with no extra charge for cars carrying bikes.

For cyclists ready to go farther south, alpine cycling holiday specialist Velo Vercors this summer launched an interesting package with self-guided tours of the Alp d'Huez region from pounds 850. This figure includes all accommodation, breakfasts and evening meals, transfer to and from Valence TGV train station, detailed maps each day and transfer of luggage to each new destination.

Train travel from the UK to Valence is extra.

Covering more than 600km, and climbing 22,000m high, the Vercors tour includes climbs of Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Galibier and Alp d'Huez, as well as gentler inclines in the Vercors and the flatter landscape of the Drome.

The route has been planned to follow low-traffic routes with spectacular Alpine scenery, from gorges to waterfalls to walnut groves and vineyards, and incorporates historical sites and an array of local wildlife.

Day seven, at the end, includes a jaw-droppingly scenic ride from Monestier de Clermont back to the Vercors, taking in two mountain passes and the famous wine region of Chatillon-en-Diois, pausing for lunch in the historic town of Die.

* RURAL SPLENDOUR: Linthwaite House Hotel is situated in a dramatic spot overlooking Lake Windermere and provides stunning views from the conservatory, left
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Aug 11, 2012
Words:422
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