22-28 August 2021: The toughest edition ever
Stage 1 of Haute Route Alps 2021 is a classic loop that features stunning views of Mont Blanc from several angles, and finishes with a finale up to the top of Côte 2000. Starting from the Palais des Sports, you’ll cruise gradually downhill for 10km before reaching the foot of the Col des Aravis. Electrified by the excitement and anticipation of the race start, the peloton’s pace on the first climb of the week is always high, but remember, this is the first of four climbs today, and many more for the week! Following a fast descent, you’ll immediately head for the sky again, passing through small villages to reach the summit of the Col de la Colombière at 1613m. Enjoy the descent and climb over the easier side of Col de Romme before plunging down the steep side to Cluses. From here, 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 stair-step all the way through Megève to the finish line in Côte 2000.
After a massage 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 steady grade, and features a reprieve after 11km as you pass the beautiful blue waters of Lac de Roselend. Feeling rejuvenated, you’ll muster the energy for the final five 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 that 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.
The Queen Stage of the 2021 event is our biggest ever, with a formidable and awe-inspiring collection of legendary climbs accumulating 4,700m+ over 182km. Starting with a gentle descent from Tignes, the peloton will quickly reach the base of the first climb, the Col de l’Iseran. The iconic 17km climb from Val d’Isere over the highest paved mountain pass in Europe at 2770m is well worth the effort for the spectacular views over snow capped peaks near and far. From the heights of Iseran, a 70km descent to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne follows. It’s here you will start the next two challenges for the day, culminating in 2000m of climbing over 35km. First comes the 11.8km Col du Télégraphe. Averaging a 7.3% gradient, this French classic is the perfect appetiser for the second giant ascent of the stage, the Col du Galibier. Climbing to 2642m over 18.1km, the Galibier has been featured in the Tour de France no less than 35 times since 1947. And for very good reason. After conquering one of the most legendary climbs in the Alps - and arguably one of the toughest - pause on the descent to view the monument to Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour de France. The final climb to Alpe d’Huez via the Col de Sarenne is the icing on the cake for this very special day on the road and one you will never forget.
The 2021 time trial for the Haute Route Alps will be one for the history books. With 21 hairpin bends, climbing 1130m over 15.5km, the race to Alpe d’Huez from Bourg d’Oisans is something special indeed. The mythical road has unearthed new champions, created legends, broken countless hearts and as many bodies since it first featured in the 1952 Tour de France. It’s since become a mecca for biking and a must-do climb for cyclists all around the world. So it’s the perfect setting for the uphill time trial on our special 10th anniversary edition of the Haute Route Alps. Leaving Bourg d’Oisans one by one, riders will wind their way through the famous hairpins in an all-out blast to the top. The stakes will be high and convictions will be tested on this heroic and unforgettable stage.
While you’ve tested your limits on the extraordinary time trial the day before, Stage 5 does not pull any punches, with two climbs reaching over 2000 metres above sea level. After a thrilling early morning descent from Alpe d’Huez, you’ll reach the foot of the immense 34km climb to the Col du Lautaret. At first following the Romanche river through the valley from le Clapier, the road soon leaves the pine forests behind for a striking open alpine landscape and climbs steadily to the col at 2058m. From Lautaret, a gentle descent to Saint-Chaffrey takes us to the next challenge for the day - and it’s a good one. While it’s only 10km to Col du Granon, half of the ascent climbs at over 10%, topping 13% at times. The Col has featured in the Tour de France just once, but provided the setting for a historic battle between Greg LeMond and his teammate Bernard Hinault. LeMond clinched the yellow jersey on the stage and didn’t let it go again, becoming the first American to win the Tour de France that year. Just like its TDF history, the short climb packs a punch, accumulating over 1000m of elevation by the finish line.
While the Col de l’Iseran on Stage 3 was the highest paved pass in Europe, the Cime de la Bonette is even higher and is the highlight of Stage 6. Bonette climbs to 2,802 metres, but doesn’t technically count as the highest pass because the high point is on a scenic loop, not the pass itself. The panoramic view is absolutely worth the extra metres of climbing, even after you’ve finished two big climbs in one of the toughest 2021 stages. To get to views of Bonette, you will first have a gentle warm up from Briancon to Guillestre before the climb over the picturesque summit of the Col de Vars. After a stunning descent through quaint back roads, we’ll take on the colossal climb to the highest point in the 2021 course, Col de la Bonette. Rising almost 1600m+ from Jausiers, this epic pass is like no other. With your head in the clouds, enjoy the thrilling and technical descent to Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée knowing all that’s left is the 5km climb to the finish line in Auron.
Saving some of the best until last, the expedition from Auron to Nice is the perfect way to finish this special edition of the Haute Route Alps. This 170-kilometre route starts with the descent from Auron, gently down the 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 enjoy a beautiful descent of some 30km to Puget-Théniers, where you’ll start the nine-kilometre climb to Col St Raphaël. The 55 undulating 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. Take in the final descent to the Mediterranean Sea and relish every moment of the iconic ride along the beach to finish on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.