112KM | 3,200M+ · Wednesday 23rd August
Without taking a completely different route to the west, or going though Italy to the east, there’s no escaping the Col du Lautaret (2,058m). It is a long and tedious drag up the main road from Serre Chevalier to the col, often against a head wind.
Last year we turned right on the Lautaret to continue up the Galibier; this year we will flip over the top and ride hard and fast down through the extreme ski capital of La Grave almost to Bourg d’Oisans and the foot of Alpe d’Huez. Almost because the Event Director has a nice little surprise up his sleeve: the climb to the Col de Sarenne (1,999m) which brings us into Alpe d’Huez by the back road, so to speak.
This has several advantages: there’s no traffic, it preserves the main road for the next day, and it preserves the Haute Route’s reputation… Yes, this is another hard, hard climb. From the dam, it 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 13% on the ramps, easing off in the bends… With tired legs the climb seems interminable, although the scenery is magnificent.
Over the top there’s a short descent to Alpe d’Huez and the arrival village, at which you can cast a longing glance, because the stage is far from over yet. The route takes us all the way back down to the bottom, looping round and coming back up through Villard-Reculaz, for another 1100m of climbing.
The road will be familiar to anyone who rode the epic Courchevel to Alpe d’Huez stage in the pouring rain in 2014. Under better conditions it is a lovely climb, much easier than the 21 bends, and with fantastic views across the valley. It joins the main road at bend 6 for the final 5km, for which you’ll need all the energy and motivation you can muster.
Stage description by Alpine Cols
Thanks to a clement climate and its lavish green fields in the heart of the mountain valley in the Hautes Alpes, Serre Chevalier Briançon offers a unique location for sports and relaxation.
The valley extends around three authentic alpine villages (Le Monêtier les Bains, Villeneuve La Salle les Alpes and Chantemerie Saint Chaffrey) and the city of Briançon that has several buildings classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites
A unique mix of sport, wellness and culture for every taste
During the summer, Serre Chevalier Briançon is a little piece of paradise for sport lovers with lots of activities in a natural environment. Visitors will get to enjoy the fresh air in a Mediterranean like climate, just 15km from the Italian border.
During winter, the Serre Chevalier ski resort is known for its exceptional snow conditions; it is also known as one of the biggest resorts in the Alps due to its 410 hectares of ski slopes.
Surrounded by mythical cols among the most famous in cycling history (the Col de l’Izoard, Col du Galibier, Col du Granon), some of the summits are higher than 3.000 meters.
Serre Chevalier Briançon has been choose nto host “l’Étape du Tour”, as well as a departure and an arrival of the Tour de France. It will also be the home of several famous cyclotouristes events.