Ahhh, the French Alps. Breathtaking scenery, crystal clear air and a spectacular setting for the Haute Route Alps, the unique event that’s fast earning its stripes as the world’s toughest amateur bike race.
If you’ve salivated watching the pro’s dance up hills in the Tour De France and want to experience the closest thing to the thrill of riding at this level with some serious bragging rights along the way, the Haute Route Alps is the answer to your prayers.
Haute Route Alps is the flagship adventure from organisers Haute Route Events, who offer a series of epic global 3, 5 and 7 day race challenges in iconic destinations worldwide.
This seven-day event is more than a race; a multi-day cycling adventure rammed with legendary climbs of the World Tour and sweeping across world’s most iconic mountain range. The physicality is insane, with adrenaline rushes to match.
The race is a serious battle with mind and body, with organisers aiming to bring you as close an experience to a pro rider as possible. Some argue it’s better, with little luxuries like massages and kit transfers. All you need do is turn up and pedal. Hard.
Location – Legendary cycling playground
The term Haute Route (pronounced “oat root”) or High Road comes from the original 19th century ski and mountaineering route from Chamonix to Zermatt in the Swiss Alps.
This part of the world is the crown jewel of European cycling destinations . Awe-inspiring snow-capped ridges tower above sun-drenched alpine meadows and winding rivers swerve around sinews of smooth tarmac.
Cycling heaven awaits, on every hairpin and hill. The entire region of Alpe D’Huez is set up as the beating heart for cyclists; expect regular cries of “allez!” and cars slowly snaking behind riders at under 10 kmh until it’s safe to pass.
This is the theatre of the world’s best cyclists and a rare opportunity to test your mental and physical endurance on the same roads as the professionals. The race runs towards the end summer so expect the added challenge of unpredictable weather conditions, with temperatures soaring over 30 degrees and thin oxygen at altitude.
Travel is part of the adventure and Haute Route is slick. The beauty of taking on this immense challenge is the commensurate level of support on offer. Organisers work with travel partners to ensure hotels are in the heart of Alpe D’Huez close to the event village. They provide a comprehensive guide to help you through all your questions, from choosing bike boxes to preparing for your race.
Course – Lung-bustingly epic
Epic. Be ready to tackle iconic cols over the course of the week’s multi-stage rollercoaster of a race. You’ll ride around 700km, tackle over 19,000m of elevation, with around 3,000m elevation per stage.
Return riders are kept of their toes by race directors who alter the route each year. Every day is different but the week includes various formats (classic stages, marathon stages, individual time trial) with daily averages of 100km+ and two to three major climbs. Typically riders start each day from the event village depending on the length of the stage.
Race briefings are hosted each evening over drinks, spearheaded by MC’s to add celebratory flair to the occasion, offering route pointers, talking through points of interest. Each stage is timed but in the interests of safety some of the descents are exempt.
Throughout the event a bespoke Haute Route Alps app gives riders one-tap access to stay up to date with updated schedules, routes and results at the click of a button. Routes are well signposted and on-road support is underpinned by expert roving Mavic mechanics, Ambassador riders and a supportive lantern rouge (rear rider).
THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
Spectators – Not for the faint-hearted
Friends and family are welcome and most hire a car to follow their rider during the week from point to point. There’s a party atmosphere in the Village but this event isn’t ideas as a family holiday; you’re here to ride the epic climbs like the pros.
All riders, including those in teams, will appear in the General Classification. So, whether you’re striving for the podium, racing with a friend or simply focusing on getting to that famous finish line, your efforts will be on the record. An official prize ceremony takes place at the end of each day to celebrate the biggest stars of each stage, with post-ride videos to share with supporters back home.
Why ride Haute Route Alps?
Ride-cation – Make it an Alpine adventure
Savouring every moment as you tackle the killer cols may not be on the top of your list, so maybe choose to bolt on a few days at the finish line (recent finishes have includes Megeve and Nice).
Being up in the mountains, the weather can change in a heartbeat so come prepared for all eventualities. The Haute Route Alps Rider Briefing pack is a bible to guide you through but the altitude and sustaining back-to-back days on the bike can be a shock to the system.
Summer in the Alps is a showcase of mother nature’s finest. The scenery is breathtaking and while you’re here it might be remiss not to check out Alpe D’Huez’ playground of activities beyond the bike; from outdoor tennis courts by the Altiport to open air swimming pools, luge, zip-lines and paragliding. Plus a cracking little nine hole golf course if your body needs a break.
Less holiday, more adventure with a difference. Haute Route Alps is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to test the limits of both mind and body.