Cycling's ultimate climbs: Alpe d'Huez

Hank took a look at the most famous Tour de France climb and what it takes to plan your own trip up the iconic 21 switchbacks of the Alpe

Clock10:00, Friday 22nd December 2023

If you were to look up 'iconic cycling climbs' in a dictionary, you would probably see Alpe d’Huez and its 21 switchbacks staring back at you. It is the most iconic cycling climb and it is not even close: the Alpe d’Huez is in a league of its own.

Read more: Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2024 route revealed, with Alpe d'Huez finale

With that legacy, thousands go to the slopes yearly to tackle the beast for themselves, regardless of where they might come from. It is, in a certain way, a rite of passage. What’s more, even though it is a challenge, it is not as long as Mont Ventoux, not as remote as the Angliru and not as gruelling as the Mortirolo. It is firmly in the Goldilocks zone of iconic climbs that can be the centrepiece of a cycling vacation.

This week on GCN, we recruited our own James 'Hank' Lowsley-Williams to break down the climb, turn by turn, and give you some insight into where to stay, where to fly into, how to grab a coffee near the top, how to ride to the climb and some of the loose ends you might need to have a successful day in the Alps.

To learn more about the climb, whether it is the history and layout of the 21-bends or the climbs around Alpe d’Huez, be sure to check out the video and let us know what you think of the climb if you have ridden it! Given the stats from Strava, it is a fair bet that many of you have.

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