Arguably the most iconic of all the Alpine ascents, Alpe d’Huez and its 21 hairpins return to the Tour de France this year.
Hosting the summit finish of the race’s penultimate stage, the maillot jaune is likely to be won – or lost – on the climb’s famous switchbacks.
Two years ago Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) conquered the unprecedented double ascent of the famous climb on a memorable day which saw Chris Froome extend his overall lead despite nearly bonking spectacularly with five kilometres remaining.
Heroics throughout the history of the Tour de France ensure Alpe d’Huez is a climb with mythical status and it’s for that reason that countless amateur riders flock to the ascent each summer to tackle it for themselves.
Mike Cotty is a man who knows all about Alpe d’Huez and he credits the climb as a constant source of inspiration on the bike. Cotty is your guide in this latest video from The Col Collective, which takes you up the legendary hairpins.
“If the truth be known I owe a lot to the rockstar ascent that is Alpe d’Huez, along with its equally impressive neighbours the Glandon and Galibier,” says Cotty.
“Back in 2003 it was the lure of these legendary peaks that gave me my first real taste of the mountains as I nervously lined up for La Marmotte not really knowing what I was getting myself into.
“You could feel the energy they possessed, like the walls of a Roman amphitheatre staring down at a gladiator about to go into combat.
“I’ll never forget that moment, eventually carving my way up the 21 bends to the summit of Alpe d’Huez. We’ve come a long way since then but this is, and always will be, where the dream began.”
Start: Bourg d’Oisans
Elevation gain: 1,108m
Average gradient: 8.1%
Max gradient: 13%