Possibly the most famous climb in road cycling culture, and a mountain road every cyclist wants to say they’ve climbed. Not technically the most difficult climb in the alps, but one so steeped in history that it takes on a legendary attraction.
Making regular appearances in the Tour de France since it’s debut in the race in 1952, and climbed twice in one stage of the centenary edition of the Tour in 2013, ‘The Alpe’ is an amazing road to climb.
The fastest recorded time up the climb set by Marco Pantani during the 1997 Tour. His record of 37 minutes and 35 seconds still stands today. Throughout the summer there is a weekly time-trial giving amateur cyclists the chance to see if they can get close to that time.
With 21 hairpins, the road ramps up immediately at the foot of the climb out of Bourg-d’Oisans onto a steep section up to the sixth hairpin. It then levels off enough to allow you to settle into a decent rhythm before you leave the tree-lined mid-section where the view ahead opens up so you can see the final 4 or 5 k ahead of you. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that you’ve made it at this point . . . but you haven’t. These last few kilometres can seem like double that.
After the final hairpin a long straight takes you through the village and a left-hander delivers you to what is the finish straight of the Tour stages.
Alpe d’Huez is like a road cyclist’s playground. It is also the last climb on the route of the Marmotte Sportive which takes place on the first weekend in July.
Alpe d’Huez stats