The rise of the Alpe d'Huez by bike: beginner's guide
In this Article
Posted May 26, 2022
A mythical ascent, the Alpe d'Huez attracts thousands of cyclists every year, who came to compete with its slopes. Accessible from the Bourg-d'Oisans vacation station, with its 14 km, its 21 turns and its 1133 m elevation, the Alpe never stops the column. Although it is not considered the most difficult, the regular passages of the Tour de France, as well as the often decisive nature of this stage, allowed it to build an international notoriety.
On July 10, 2022, the Alpe d'Huez will be the arrival point of the30e Edition of the Tour stage. Prepare for this essential climb with our guide: history, advice, how to get there ...
History: the legend of the Alpe
Before being a high place of cycling and a (almost) forced passage from the Tour de France, the Alpe d'Huez is an Isère winter sports station. Located in the Grande Rousses massif at 1850 m above sea level, the Alpe d'Huez station developed from the 1920s on the site of old mountain pastures. It is accessible both from the Romanche valley (Le Bourg-d'Oisans) and by Haut-Oisans (Col de Sarenne). The road taken by cyclists around the world winds from the bottom of the valley at the Alpine station in 21 legendary pins.
The Tour de France experienced its first arrival at the Alpe d'Huez in 1952 with a victory by the Italian Fausto Coppi. Broaded for 24 years, the Oisans station has reappeared on the 1976 Tour program. Since then, it has been a key step; The large loop borrows it today about one year in two. Its importance has become such that a saying wants the runner in yellow on the evening of the Alpe stage to be proclaimed winner in Paris!
If the Alpe d'Huez has so much marked the history of the Tour de France, it is also and above all thanks to the emotions it has aroused over the years. Among them, the arrival hand in the hand of the "teammates" Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault in 1986; The rivalry between Bernard Thévenet and Hennie Kuiper in 1977, the fight between Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon in 1989; The record set in 1995 by Marco Pantani, the "pirate", in 37’35 ’’; The sad demonstration of Lance Armstrong during the 2004 time trial…
The profile of the ascent: it stings!
"Mountain of the Dutch" or "Mecca of the bicycle", the rise of the Alpe d'Huez is a real event, the race to do at least once in his life; If it was only necessary to make one, it would certainly be this! Classified outside the category, the ascent has a profile of 14 km to 8% average (with portions of around 13%). The elevation is 1133 m. Nothing to envy, therefore, to the other local giants (Lautaret, Galibier, Glandon, Iron Cross)! The rise, regular, is carried out from the town of Bourg-d'Oisans (717 m), whose position at the foot of the big passes makes it a privileged place of passage of the followers of the small queen ... and the big loop!
The climb dissected: a turn can hide another
Rest assured, you have no chance of getting lost on the slopes of the Alpe (even in perdition): several hundred cyclists make the climb every day. The 21 turns are numbered (in decreasing order) and new indicator panels have replaced the old terminals. Enough to mentally make a countdown good for morale (or not).
The Ascension begins at the exit of Bourg-d'Oisans. The least we can say is that it starts strong ... The first 2-3 kilometers (turns 21 to 17) are the most difficult, beyond 10%... Put all left and adopt a regular rhythm until In the village of La Garde, whose crossing makes it possible to recover (turns 17 to 15). Short -term pleasure! Business resumes 8.5-9% (turns 15 to 12). Second replacement, second respite (turns 12 to 11), and the slope is again severe (turns 11 to 7). Virage 7, known as "Dutch", welcomes hordes of supporters posted there during the passage of the Tour; A water point allows you to refuel if necessary. Crossing the village of Huez (turns 7 to 6), then third and last replacement (turns 6 to 5), before letting go of its penultimate forces in parties at 8-10% (turns 5 to 1), that 'is hard… Finally the turn 1, announcing a less steep final (6-7%), but still 2.5 km long. Courage ! The arrival is celebrated on avenue du Rif Nel (1850 m).
Advice to perform D -Day
Good news ! The road is wide and the asphalt of good quality. If cohabitation with cars, motorhomes, bus and other motorcycles is going well, it is also synonymous with exhaust gas ... To avoid these inconveniences, prefer a cool climb, in the morning between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. or in the evening Between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. South -facing, the Alpe takes from noon for the appearance of a furnace ... it shakes less than at Roubaix , but it's as hot as Seville... And we don't need that to "undergo"!
Hydrate yourself before, during and after the ascent (do not wait to be thirsty for drinking), refuel if necessary at the water point 7. The start is difficult, it is better to leave a little slowly than Call 2 km ... The effort is sustained, but the regular rise, quite affordable if you are well trained. A biveau cyclist will have around 1:30 (at 9-10 km/h on average) to reach the top. Take advantage of the turns to breathe (or to relaunch, if you are a caid). Before getting to the heart, warm up in the valley. Breathe in the belly and pedal "round". Fill up on carbohydrates (fruit pasta, dried fruits, bars, gels). Listen to music to soften your sufferings! Chopin or Stones, music is recognized for its positive effects on the body.
A good preparation for optimal pleasure
If it brings its share of satisfaction, the bike ascent of a large pass (or assimilated) requires serious preparation. Climbing a collar is also to face the conditions specific to the mountains (altitude, temperatures, wind) and being able to endure steep slopes over a long distance. If you too have not succeeded in take advantage of the cold season, don't worry, it's still time to do it from the hot season :)
The best preparations starts on the dish. A few weeks before the ascent, work in fractional, make series of effort. For example, you can perform, when outing, 5 series of 5 minutes of effort at a rate of 110 laps per minute at 70% of your maximum heart rate, with 2 minutes of active recovery between each series (pedaling to the same cadence but without forcing). Also work in force by going up small ribs. You must pedal with a low rate (40 to 60 laps per minute), seated, hands on the casseroles or in the middle of the hanger. More efficient than a field outlet, training on home-trainer will effectively complete your preparation.
Finalize your training with small passes. Provide at least 2 mountain outlets with the ascent of a slope pass close to that of the targeted pass but less length (half for example).
Finally, the food is (alas?) Integrative part of your preparation.We have taken stock in this article.
How to get to Bourg-d'Oisans?
Bourg-d'Oisans is located 1 hour by car from Grenoble and Briançon and 2 hours from Gap.
If you do not have a car, it is possible to reach the Bourg-d'Oisans by coach from Grenoble station, by line T75. The lines of the line are equipped with bike carriers. Transporting your cycle is free.
In order to arrive hot at the foot of the Alpe, a good compromise can be to go down before arriving at your destination, in Vizille, Séchilienne or Live-et-Gavet. The road then follows the course of the Romanche and allows you to go up in intensity before reaching the foot of the wall. Be careful not to do too much in the plain and keep it under the foot for the mountain.
More information on the network website CARS REGION.
In case you take the train to Grenoble, it is possible to climb with your bike. But beware, politics varies depending on whether you take TER, intercités or TGV. Traveling with your bike will not cost you more than € 10, but you can ask you to book a location or transport it disassembled in a cover.
More information on the website SNCF.
I climbed the Alpe ... great, and now?
So, legache? Want to diversify your activities or put the cover back? Anyway, you are in the right place!
Oisans, summer and winter, is the paradise of outdoor sports, land, aquatic and even air lovers! Road or mountain bike cycling, hiking or mountaineering, climbing or via ferrata, rafting or canoeing, paragliding, etc. After rubbing shoulders with the Alpe, bicycle enthusiasts will find in the region something new thrills, especially in the passes of the glans and the iron cross, the lautaret and the galibier.
Strictishly horseback on the departments of Isère and Hautes-Alpes, the Ecrins National Park is both the largest and the highest in the country: 740 km of marked trails, including the GR 54 (Tour de l'Oisans ), around thirty mountain shelters, a hundred summits at more than 3000 m, including those of the Meije, Mont Pelvoux and the wristbar ... The must!
The 2022 Tour stage: come and meet us!
The30e Edition of the Tour de France stage will be held on July 10, 2022 on the 12 routee Step of the Tour, between Briançon and the Alpe d'Huez, or 170 km of road and more than 4,700 m of elevation gain, including the climbs of the Galibier and the Iron Cross.
The Cyclist House is one of the exhibitors this year. We will be happy to find you in the departure village in Briançon, in order to present us and make you known our products. Save the date !
Village of the Tour stage in Briançon, Friday July 8 and Saturday July 9, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. FREE ENTRANCE.