Haute Route Alps: The courses through the years


Created in 2011, the Haute Route Alps is the founding event of the Haute Route Cycling Series. Nine years later, and now comprised of 13 events spread across the globe and throughout the year, the Haute Route Cycling Series has grown from strength to strength off the back of its flagship event in the Alps.

Returning for its 9th edition this summer from the 25th to the 31st of August, the Haute Route Alps highlights every summer the best cols that this stunning mountain range has to offer. Ask any cyclist for their top 3 cycling destinations, and you can almost guarantee that the Alps will be in there somewhere.

In this blog post we take a look at some of the highlights of the Haute Route Alps courses through the years, and scrutinise the 2019 course to give you a taste of what you can expect during the 9th edition.

A Brief History Of Course Highlights

First Edition - 2011
Featuring 720km and 17000M+ of climbing, the course began in Geneva and took riders to Nice on the Mediterranean coast. The course for the inaugural edition featured legendary climbs such as the Col de la Colombière, Col de la Madeleine, Col du Galibier Col de l’Izoard and the Cime de la Bonette which have now become staples for the event year in year out.

Second Edition - 2012
The Haute Route Alps upped the ante in 2012 and returned with a longer and more challenging course featuring 780km of riding with 21,000M+ of climbing. Again, linking Geneva to Nice, the second edition featured its first “Marathon” stage from Courchevel to Alpe d’Huez with 4,700M+ of climbing, and a time trial from Bourg d’Oisans up Alpe d’Huez for the first time.

Third Edition - 2013
In 2013 the Haute Route Alps course included two exciting new features. Another national border crossing, as stage three took riders through Italy as they made their way from Val d’Isère to Serre-Chevalier, and, in the process, the event’s first and only ever ascent up the Col de l’Iséran.

Fourth Edition - 2014
Race Director Jean-François Alcan innovated once again in 2014, with a brand-new course taking more of a Western route between Geneva and Nice in order to include a memorable summit finish on Mont Ventoux on stage six. Totalling 904km with 21,400M+ of climbing, the route for this fourth edition is probably the toughest course ever designed for the Haute Route Alps.

Fifth Edition - 2015
To celebrate the 5th edition in 2015, the course switched to a new South to North route, with the Grand Départ taking place in Nice and riders finishing on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Featuring summit finishes in Auron, Les 2 Alpes and La Toussuire along the way, the course totalled 855km with 22,100M+ of climbing.

Sixth Edition – 2016
Starting in Nice and finishing in Geneva once again, the notable highlights of the 2016 course included a double ascent of the infamous Col du Galibier, a return to the Col de la Bonette and the stunningly beautiful Lacets de Montvernier on the way up the Col de Chaussy.

Seventh Edition – 2017
Featuring the most climbing ever in the history of an Haute Route event, the course for the seventh edition totalled 22,200M+ and 896km of riding. Following two consecutive ascents of Alpe d’Huez on stages three and four, the fifth stage was one for the record books, as riders covered 182km with 4,500M+ of climbing between Alpe d’Huez and Megève.

Eighth Edition – 2018
Returning to its original North to South route in 2018, the Haute Route Alps welcomed a new Grand Départ location with a start from Megève. Notable highlights from this course included six summit finishes, a new time trial course from Guillestre to Risoul and a visit to Europe’s highest town, Saint-Véran (above 2000m).

What to expect in 2019
Starting once again from Megève, the 9th edition of the Haute Route Alps provides a memorable blend of Alpine climbs and iconic mountain towns. Totalling 745km with 20,150M+ of climbing, riders will not only get to experience many of the climbs that have made this event so popular over the years, but also several promising new cols.

The first stage loop around Megève is designed by 2017 Haute Route Alps winner, Nicolas Roux. Featuring several new climbs such as the ascents up Le Bettex and the Plateau d’Assy, participants will also be privy to a view over the snow-capped Mont Blanc all throughout the stage. Heading to Courchevel on stage two, riders will take on a new climb for the Haute Route, the recently paved road up to the Col de la Loze. Following two exciting new stages, days three and four will be more recognisable for those who know their Alpine cols, with ascents up the well-known Madeleine, Glandon, Alpe d’Huez, Lautaret and Granon.

The fifth stage of the 2019 event will feature a first for the Haute Route, a time trial up the Col d’Izoard from Briançon. Riders will take on this legendary 19km climb one by one, heading down the start ramp in a race against the clock. Whilst the race uphill will be a true test of grit and determination, riders should also take the opportunity to savour the moment, and perhaps even ride down slightly to the Casse Désertes on the opposite side of the mountain to snap a few pictures.

Finally, the sixth and seventh stages of the 2019 event will take riders over the well-known Col de Vars on their way to Pra Loup, before featuring the Cime de la Bonette (the highest col of the week at 2802m) and two more short climbs on the way to the Mediterranean sea in Nice.

On the whole, the course for the 2019 Haute Route Alps is an accurate representation of the history of this event. Allowing riders to discover a few lesser-known but demanding and beautiful cols, whilst also featuring many of the household names that draw cycling enthusiasts to this mountain range year in year out.

Click here to view the event page and register today.