Stage 1: Megève – Megève (Côte 2000)
110KM / 3,000M+
Stage 1 of Haute Route Alps 2020 is a classic loop that features stunning views of Mont Blanc from several angles, and finishes with a finale up to the airport atop Côte 2000. Starting from the Palais des Sports, you’ll cruise gradually downhill for 10 kilometres before reaching the foot of the Col des Aravis. Loaded with enthusiasm and fresh legs, the peloton’s pace on the first climb of the week will be high, but remember this is just the first climb of four today, and many more for the week! Following a fast descent, you’ll immediately head up, passing through small villages to reach the summit of the 12-kilometre Col de la Colombière. Enjoy the descent and climb over the easier side of Col de Romme before plunging down the steep side to Cluses. From here you’ll want to find a group and work together on the 19-kilometre false flat to Sallanches. Leaving town, you’ll start the first of three climbs on small country roads that stairstep all the way through Megève to the finish line in Côte 2000.
Stage 2: Megève – Tignes
109KM / 3,450M+
Following a massage, great meal, and comfortable night in Megève, the peloton will retrace the first 10 kilometres of Stage 1 before turning left to climb the Col de Saisies. Dress warmly, as you’ll be climbing in the shade, or ride faster to keep yourself warm. After a fast descent, you’ll start up the 20.5-kilometre Cormet de Roselend. The climb starts out with a few very steep ramps before settling into a steadier grade, and features a reprieve after 11 kilometres as you pass the beautiful blue waters of Lac de Roselend. Rejuvenated, you have the energy for the final 5 kilometres to the summit at nearly 2000 metres above sea level. The long descent to Bourg Saint Maurice features both open high-speed sections and a series of technical switchbacks to keep you on your toes. The final 25 kilometres of the stage can be thought of as one long climb with two short reprieves. When you reach Tignes Les Brévières, you’ll start the climb to Tignes sthat was supposed to be the finish of Stage 19 of the 2019 Tour de France, before the stage was famously cut short by a hailstorm.
Stage 3: Tignes – Serre Chevalier Briançon (Col du Galibier)
136KM / 3,450M+
Descending from Tignes on the morning of Stage 3, the peloton will quickly reach the base of the first climb, the Col de l’Iseran. This highest paved pass in Europe at 2770 metres will get harder as you climb into thinner air, but the highest passes also provide the most expansive views! Although the true descent from the Col de l’Iseran is 13 kilometres, Stage 3 is almost entirely flat or downhill for the 73 kilometres between the summit and the base of the Col du Télégraphe. Getting in a sizable group would be beneficial after the initial descent from the Col de l’Iseran. Once you arrive in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, the final two challenges of the day await. First comes the 11.8-kilometre Col du Télégraphe, which is the gateway to the town of Valloire and an appetizer for the second giant climb of the stage, the Col du Galibier. Ascending to 2642 metres over 18.1 kilometres, the Galibier has been featured in the Tour de France 35 times since 1947. Pause on the descent to view the monument to Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour de France, and then continue to the Event Village in Serre Chevalier Briançon.
Stage 4: Serre Chevalier Briançon – Risoul
72KM / 2,350M+
The iconic Tour de France climbs keep coming in Stage 4, with the ascent from Serre Chevalier Briançon to the summit of the Col d’Izoard. This 19-kilometre climb from the north side starts off with some moderately steep ramps, then offers a reprieve for a few kilometres. When you reach the village of Cervières, be prepared for the road to get steeper. The north side of the Col d’Izoard climbs through a forest, in stark contrast to the barren moonscape of the Casse Déserte on the other side. Be sure to pause for the plaques honoring legendary cyclists Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet about two kilometres down from the summit on the south side. Following the descent and valley road after the Col d’Izoard and, you’ll arrive in Guillestre. The only challenge left is the 13km climb to the finish in Risoul, which has been the summit finish for a stage of the Tour de France and Critérium du Dauphiné.
Stage 5: Risoul – Auron
114KM / 3,250M+
While the Col de l’Iseran on Stage 3 was the highest paved pass in Europe, the Cime de la Bonette is even higher. It climbs to 2,802 metres, but doesn’t count as the highest pass because the high point is on a scenic loop, not the pass itself. The view panoramic view is absolutely worth the extra metres of climbing! Of course, to get there, you’ll first have to descend from Risoul and climb over the picturesque summit of the Col de Vars. With the highest point of the 2020 Haute Route Alps behind you, enjoy the thrilling and technical descent to Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée. If you’re not in a hurry, take a few minutes to check out the colorful town square just a few metres from the final feed station of the day. Once you’re ready to go, all that’s left is the 5-kilometre climb to the finish in Auron.
Stage 6: Auron – Nice (Col de Vence)
170KM / 3,300M+
Fuel up and get a good night’s sleep before the longest stage of the 2020 Haute Route Alps. This 170-kilometre route starts with the descent from Auron and gently downhill valley road to Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée. The 16-kilometre climb of the Col de la Couillole starts immediately and although it averages a steady 7-8%, there are several steep ramps above 10% along the way. After the summit, you’ll only descend 250 metres in elevation before regaining those 250 metres over 7 kilometres to the ski resort of Valberg. With the exception of a small rise, the next 43 kilometres descend from Valberg and along the Var River until you reach Puget-Théniers and the 9-kilometre Col St Raphaël. The 55 kilometres from the summit of the Col St Raphaël to the summit of the Col de Vence are a picturesque and challenging tour of the narrow country roads through the Maritime Alps. Enjoy the final descent to the Mediterranean Sea and the flat ride along the beach to finish on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Stage 7: ITT Nice – Col d’Èze
12KM / 500M+
In a departure from previous editions of Haute Route Alps, the 2020 edition will finish with a 12-kilometre individual time trial on the Col d’Èze. Despite the spelling there’s nothing “easy” about the Col d’Èze. Starting from the heart of Nice, you’ll have about 2 kilometres of flat ground to get your legs moving before a 3-kilometre section that features the steepest ramps on the entire climb, some reaching 11%. A little past kilometre 5, the climb levels off for a kilometer before rising to a steady 5-7% for about 3 kilometres. Save some energy for the final two kilometres because the climb levels off and you can pick up a lot of speed before two short uphill kicks close to the finish line. Congratulations, you’re an Haute Route Alps Finisher!