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Top bike race locations – and how to stay safe abroad

If you’re a fan of road bike racing, and are looking for a place to vacation, consider some of the world’s best racing locations. Below, we’ve outlined a few of the most popular and offered some helpful tips for traveling safely abroad.

Tour de France
If you know bicycle racing at all, you’ve heard of the Tour de France. This 21-day, 2,000 mile race is the most popular and prestigious among racers and spectators alike. Held in July, it challenges the world’s top bicycle riders to grueling hills and magnificent flats and includes a wildly international peloton. While you’re there, you can cheer on the peloton and take in splendid views of France’s rolling vineyards, picturesque villages, and alpine passes.

Milan-San Remo (Italy)
The longest one-day race in pro cycling, the Milan-San Remo is known as the “Sprinter’s Classic.” Held in early spring, this race offers a rare test of endurance early in the season. While the weather can be unpredictable, the quaint cities and spectacular coastal views are worth it. For instance, a good share of the second half of the race borders the ocean, from the Passo del Turchino climb to San Remo, and features well-worn cliffs that drop down to clear, blue Mediterranean waters.

Vuelta a Espana (Spain)
The youngest of the grand tours, this late-season (Aug-Sept) race is often frequented by injured stars of the grand tour, seeking to redeem themselves and prepare for the World Championships. The 2018 race will feature nine summit finishes, an opening time trial and long, 32.7 km race in the third week. With mountainous, lush terrain and breathtaking coastal scenery, you’ll see the best of Spain by following this race. The immense beauty of Spain’s first national park and its snow-capped limestone peaks and panoramic views will make you happy you brought your camera along.

Tour of Flanders (Belgium)
One of the monuments of the tour, this race is arguably one of the most difficult, as riders face a total of eighteen cobblestoned climbs, each notorious for it complexity and its over 100-year history. Even if you missed the race (which is in April), it’s still worth the trip to Antwerp, Belgium, the starting location of the tour. Take in the city’s culture, history, and culinary delights – start at Central Station, one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, then head to the Botanical Gardens, Momu/Fashion Museum, Festival Hall, and take a boat tour on the Scheldt, with beautiful views of the river.

Staying safe on your travels overseas
With all that’s happening in the world today, the U.S. Department of State suggests using increased caution when traveling in the countries listed above and staying on top of changes at travel.state.gov/stayingconnected. In addition, we’ve offered a few safe travel tips:

  • Log your plans with nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate where you’ll be traveling. That way, in an emergency, they’ll have your information and will be able to help more quickly.
  • Make sure your mobile phone works in the country you’ll be visiting. If your cellular carrier doesn’t have an option for international service, rent a phone or buy a SIM card locally.
  • Program your phone with the number for the U.S. Embassy in your travel country. You can find the numbers on the State Department's website.
  • Know the country’s “911” equivalent in case of emergency.
  • Give a friend or family member a copy of your itinerary, including travel dates and flight numbers, hotels and hotel numbers, and travel agent information.
  • Consider looking into travel and medical assistance insurance. According to a recent study, 81% of Americans considered having 24-hour emergency travel assistance very important. Ask your insurance agent or broker about a plan for you.
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