80KM | 3,260M+ · Friday 14th July
The final stage of the Haute Route Alpe d’Huez looks a little easier than Stage 2, but it conceals a few surprises: forewarned is forearmed, this will be another hard day out!
The stage starts in the centre of Bourg d’Oisans, and then heads straight up the first 3km of the climb to Alpe d‘Huez. As you will remember from Stage 1, the ramps are steep. We turn off the main road at La Garde and enjoy a short respite before the climb resumes up the side of the valley, heading south-east. The road tops out at the left-hand bend where we come around the flank of the mountain and begin a short, two-step descent to Le Freney d’Oisans, where we turn south, cross the Romanche river et the bottom of the valley and begin up the other side to Les Deux Alpes.
The steepest part of the climb to Les Deux Alpes is the first three kilometres, before it eases off and then settles into a steadier gradient up through the switchbacks. The first part varies between 8% and 10%. The second part is a more comfortable 7% to 8%. The loop around the village is mostly flat, before returning down the same road for the first half of the descent.
About half way down at Bons we will continue straight on down through Mont de Lans and over the Chambon dam to the foot of the col de Sarenne (1999m).
The climb from the dam to the col de Sarenne is 12.8km at an average of 7.5%. This average includes 3km of almost-flat or descent, so you can guess what the rest is like. The first kilometre is the steepest: 11% average until Mizoën, but in reality, it is 13% on the ramps, easing off in the bends. Once through Mizoën the worst is over in terms of slope, but there are still 800m to climb to the summit. There’s a very welcome flat stretch after 2km and another false flat after 4km. The last 7km, however, seem interminable, especially with tired legs. The scenery is magnificent, so do your best to enjoy it!
Once over the col de Sarenne we will descend in two steps through and below Alpe d’Huez to turn around and pick up the last four bends coming back. In an unusual twist we will then go on through the normal finish line and carry on for another 4km and 270m higher up to the finish at Lac Besson.
And that’s it! Time to celebrate your successful completion of the Haute Route Alpe d’Huez: you have survived tough three days of cycling over some of the most iconic climbs in France.
Stage description by Alpine Cols
Alpe d’Huez isn’t just a legendary climb! It’s a paradise for anyone who loves open spaces, mountain air, summer sports, outdoor adventures, hiking and cultural activities. Located in the Oisans mountain range, near the Meije (3.984 meters), the Barre des Ecrins (4.102 meters), Italy and nature parks of Ecrins and Vercors, Alpe d’Huez also neighbours the Hautes Alpes!
It offers perfect conditions for holidays with your partner, your friends or your family. Sunlight is in abundant supply thanks to its south facing nature, and you can take in breathtaking sceneries over the most beautiful French peaks. On top of natural beauty of its surroundings, Alpe d’Huez also has modern sports infrastructures that offer a lot of options year round.