70km | 3000M+
The first stage of the 2018 Haute Route Alpe d’Huez is a short but demanding 70km route with two categorized climbs and a total of 3,000m of climbing. Starting in the town of Bourg-D’oisans at the foot of Alpe d’Huez, the route climbs up the first few of the famous 21 bends before branching off in La Garde. A short respite ensues before the road turns back uphill and contours the mountain with beautiful views across the valley below. Crossing over the Romanche River, the road soon turns back uphill on the opposite side of the valley towards Les 2 Alpes.
The toughest part of the climb to Les 2 Alpes comes in the first 3km with sections above 10%, before it settles into a more palatable 7-8% through the switchbacks. Once you reach the village you will turn 1800 and descend back down the same road for the first part of the descent. Halfway down you will branch right towards the foot of the brutal but beautiful Col de Sarenne.
Rising to 1999m, the climb to Col de Sarenne from the Chambon Dam is 12.8km long at an average gradient of 7.5%. Within these 12.8km are 3km of flat or descent, meaning the rest of the climb is significantly steeper than the average 7.5%. With an average gradient in excess of 11% for the first kilometer to Mizoen, and several ramps above 13%, you’ll be wise to pace yourself and take it easy in the first section of the climb. The final 7km snake along the face of the mountain on a narrow mountain-road with breathtaking views, which hopefully will make up for the tiredness that begins to be felt in your legs.
Once you crest the Col de Sarenne a small descent ensues during which you can catch a tantalizing glimpse of the finish line before winding downhill and joining the 21 bend climb to Alpe d’Huez just 4 bends from the summit for the final climb of the day and summit finish in the town of Alpe d’Huez.
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