182KM | 4,500M+ · Friday 25th August
After two nights at Alpe d’Huez it is time to move on. In which case there’s no point in moving down the road, let’s go all the way to Megève! Stage 5 is the Queen stage of this year’s Haute Route, and by a considerable margin. There are three massive climbs on a stage.
The day begins with the descent to Bourg d’Oisans, which will certainly be neutralised. We then head due north, successively crossing the Col du Glandon (1,924m) and the Col de la Madeleine (2,000m) - no transition between the two - before looping round via Albertville to tackle the Col des Saisies (1,650m) via Bisanne, not coincidentally the hardest route to the Saisies.
Let’s take them in order. The climb to the Col du Glandon (1,924m) is long and tough, with a surprise steep descent in the middle, just after the small village of Rivier d’Allemond. Measured from the Verney dam, the climb is 1,152m over 24km. The average is meaningless because the climb is highly irregular. Be prepared for long sections at 8%-10% and some shorter, steeper sections at up to 13%.
The descent from the Glandon to La Chambre is long, steep – especially the first 3km – and dangerous. This is now the fifth day and you may be both tired and over-confident: take it easy!
At the bottom we begin the climb to the Col de la Madeleine (2,000m) immediately, from the hardest side. You are about to find out why it spoken of in hushed tones… It is only 19km to the summit, but these 19km are relentless, averaging 8% all the way.
The road down from the Madeleine is another long, fast and dangerous descent. (Remember, when you prepare the Haute Route, there is as much descending as there is climbing. Learn the right technique to be safe, and practice practice!)
From the bottom of the Madeleine there are 20km of false flat descent to Albertville, and then another 12km or so of not-so-false flat climbing up the Durance valley to the start of the last biggie of the day, the climb to the Col des Saisies (1,650m) via Bisanne. Mercifully better shaded than the alternatives, this climb could still be very hot in the early afternoon. Be prepared: it is long and steep. 16.5km and over 1000m to climb, including 4km where the slope never drops below 10%. The road actually goes 70m higher than the col; there’s a welcome 2.5km descent before the final 900m up through the village of Les Saisies.
It’s not over yet: there are still 24km to go before the finish, and it’s not all downhill! Keep something in reserve for the final drag up to Megève.
Stage description by Alpine Cols
The biggest sports & wellness centre of the Alps is in Megève
Located at the foot of Montblanc, Megève is an authentic and elegant ski resort and touristic destination. The village has a rich history of culture, sport and biodiversity that attracts people from the world over throughout the year.
Megève entered a new era on 16th December 2016! The city proudly opened the new spaces within its Palais des Sports et des Congrès. The newly renamed “Le Palais” represents a new offer that gives Megève several new attractive assets. These new spaces of 10.000m2 will take you on a true sensory trip. Relax thanks to the extraordinary “balneoforme”. Practice high-tech sport on high-end devices in the fabulous wellness centre! Climb on exceptional climbing routes in an indoor structure with 5.500 climbing blocks to challenge veteran and newbie climbers alike.
An authentic and charming village
Megeve have recently improved their offerings for families. The Palais includes two new baby pools and an outdoor area of 300m2 dedicated to aquatic games. Specific activities have been developed for kids, like a climbing route and “my first massage” for kids over 6 years old at the wellness centre.
Other than swimming and spa treatments, Megeve also has several other charming features. Amongs an exceptional panorama on the Mont-Blanc and authentic little streets with lots of shops, Megève is also the host of a local gastronomic trend revisited by Michelin-starred chefs and is peppered with high quality accommodation options. Amazing events take place in this busy town, including music concerts with famous artists, international sport events and other local parties. Megeve is the ideal location to create unforgettable memories.