Documentary: Exploring the iconic Alpe d'Huez

Join Conor Dunne as he discovers more about cycling's most legendary climb

Clock10:22, Wednesday 6th December 2023

The climb featured in the new GCN+ documentary almost needs no introduction. If you were to look up 'iconic cycling climbs' in a dictionary, Alpe d’Huez and its 21 switchbacks would be staring back at you.

Nevertheless, even with the climb's notoriety, there is so much lore to 'the Alpe' that you probably do not know. This documentary sets out to reveal more about the iconic mountain than ever before.

To explore the climb deeper, we sent GCN's Conor Dunne to the French Alps to ride up its 21 hairpins with a legend whose name is immortalised in the placards along the road. That being former professional and winner on top of the climb in 2006 Fränk Schleck. Together they delve into some of the stories you may not have heard about the famous ascent.

Also joining Conor is two-time Alpe du’Huez stage winner Hennie Kuiper, and the French cycling journalist Pierre Carrey, who has done extensive research into the history of cycling’s climbs.

“Alpe d’Huez was a nice ski resort, right from the mid 1930s it was quite classy,” Pierre Carrey tells Conor in the film of the climb that tops out at one of Europe’s top ski destinations. “You could eat lobster and black truffle in restaurants on the Alpe d'Huez. The actress Liz Taylor went on vacation at the Alpe d'Huez, so why not the Tour de France? So, in the 1950s they paid for the Tour de France, then they paid for it again in the 70s.”

The rest is, as they say, history. It's a slice of history that you can learn from the documentary today!

Alpe d’Huez is out now on GCN+. Watch on-demand and explore our extensive collection of exclusive and original cycling films.

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