Alpe d'Huez

It might be the most famous mountain road in the world. Certainly, it is one of the most popular climbs in the Alps. The fabled 21 bends has been a staple part of the Tour de France since it first featured in 1952 and it has captured the imagination of cyclists worldwide.

Jacques Augendre, the Tour’s official historian, put it best: "The Tourmalet, Galibier and Izoard used to be the race’s three mythical climbs, but these three passes have been surpassed in notoriety by Alpe d’Huez. It’s become the summit of the modern era… No other stage has such presence. With its 21 bends, steep ramps and massive crowds, it has become the Hollywood climb."

Alpe d’Huez features every July in the monster cyclosportive event, the Marmotte, which finishes here, via the cols of the Croix de Fer, Télégraphe and Galibier.

The Climb in Detail

“The Americans had woodstock, the British Glastonbury and the Dutch Alpe d'Huez" - Mountain High

The Ascents

There is only one, true way to the summit of Alpe d’Huez – on the road from the valley town of Bourg-d'Oisans, snaking through the famous 21 bends: it’s 13.2 km with an average gradient of 8%. You can, however, reach the ski resort via two other routes - from Allemond to the north, and via Col de Sarenne to the East. Both are lovely rides but it’s like Christmas without the turkey. 


21 hairpin bends

Corkscrewing up the mountainside from the Oisans valley, the famous 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez have become synonymous not just with the Tour de France, but with bike racing. Every hairpin has attracted its own folklore, while they are all named after stage winners from past Tours. Struggling up through the bends towards the ski station and the summit, you get a sense of this storied history. And then there is ‘Dutch Corner’ (hairpin 7), which hosts a monster party when the Tour passes and has become a pilgrimage site for cyclists from many countries.

Its place at the Tour de France

Alpe d’Huez first featured in the Tour in 1952 when Fausto Coppi rode alone rode to the summit.  Since then, the Dutch have been victorious on the Alpe 8 times. Specialist climbers like Luis Herrera, Andy Hampsten and Iban Mayo have conquered the mountain, while Grand Tour winners such as Bernard Hinault and Marco Pantani have also dominated here. All this and more has captured the attention of audiences from all over the world, making it one of the most visited cycling destinations.

"I was on my absolute limits. I felt like I was dying a thousand deaths up Alpe d'Huez today" - Chris Froome after resisting a barrage of attacks from Nairo Quintana on stage 20 to all but seal Tour de France victory in 2015.

Take on this iconic climb by taking a look at our 4 day weekend self-guided itinerary

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