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Cycling Alpe d'Huez, climbing Alpe d'Huez from Bourg d'Oisans

Cycling Alpe d’Huez the iconic 21 bends 

Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps is probably in the top five of the world’s most famous cycling ascents. The world famous 21 bends have featured in many exciting stage finishes of the Tour de France over the years with the last being in 2016. The ascent also plays a big part in amateur competitions such as the annual Marmotte Granfondo which also finishes at the top.

The road is in good condition and is kept open all year. It has kilometre markers detailing the gradient ahead and the remaining kilometres to the summit which can be a help or hindrance.

Route details

Distance (one way): 13.8km

Start altitude:            740m

Highest altitude:        1,850m

Height gain:              1,110m

Start point:                Bourg d’Oisans

Note: there are a few bike shops which rent bikes of different standards and sell spares within Bourg d’Oisans if needed. See our other services page for more information) 


Average gradient:    8.1%

Maximum gradient: 13%


  • Starting from Bourg d’Oisans main street head out straight across the roundabout (crossing the D1091) towards the D211 signed for Alpe d’Huez. It may be advisable to cycle a few kilometres to warm up your legs before heading straight in to the climb if you are starting from Bourg d’Oisans.
  • The brutal ascent starts immediately with the first five switch backs being the steepest average gradient so it is recommended to take it easy and find a steady rhythm until you reach La Garde.
  • After La Garde the gradient reduces slightly varying between 6.5 to 9 percent for the next 7km until it ramps back up after Huez village from between 9 to 11.5 percent for a few kilometres. The final 3km ease off to around 5 percent.
  • You will reach the tourist finish marker at 1815m where there are cafes and shops available if you feel the need to stop for a break You will also find a podium on the right opposite the tourist office to take a few photos of your accomplishment.
  • To continue to the official finish line (the Tour de France finish) continue under the bridge to the left and follow the winding road (Route de la Signal) then turn right on to Avenue de l’Etendard across the first roundabout then turn left at the second roundabout straight up the road Avenue de Rif Nel and the finish podium is on your right hand side with a finish marker at the side of the road showing 1850m.

Descent options

  • From the finish line you have a few options for your return to Bourg as follows:

 A. If you have anything remaining in your legs you can continuing ascending up to Col de Sarenne. (Please note this road has some loose gravel in places but is good enough for road bikes). Head towards les Bergers and the Altiport in Alpe d’Huez and follow the road as it climbs up to 1999m past Chalet Raymond then descends down past Le Perron to Mizoen near to the Chambon dam where you can then follow the main road (D1091) along the Romanche river back to Bourg d’Oisans

B. Descend directly back to Bourg on the road you ascended.

C. Descend back down the road you have ascended until you reach Huez Haut where you will see a sharp right turning on to the D211C leading to the D211B following signs for le Pas de la confession and Villard Reculas and the chairlift at Huez. Cycle past the chairlift and the road ascends to a balcony road which continues with spectacular views overlooking the Bourg valley until you reach Villard Reculas. Continue on a really nice tree lined descent which has generally less traffic than the main Alpe d’Huez road past Sardonne and les Traverse until you reach the D526. Turn left then continue until you meet the main road (D1091) where you turn left to arrive back in Bourg d’Oisans.

© Alpventure 2017

Profile of ascent

The 21 bends of Alpe d'Huez

Tourist finish milestone 

Tour de France official finish Podium

Official finish marker


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