Winter ski resorts and summer cycling meccas – Alpe d’Huez
With some of the best snow to start of the European ski season for ages, we will feature those ski resorts that are also summer cycling destinations. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at some of the major players in the winter and summer skiing and cycling scenes. Some big names spring to mind like Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, Le Grand Bornand, Cervinia, Alta Badia but also some not so big names like La Rosiere, Sainte Foy and Saint Lary Soulan.
We seem to have quite a few former ski seasonaires in our offices at Sports Tours International. In particular in our product and operations department we have a wealth of experience from people who have done several (and in some cases a lot!) of ski seasons. This week we are taking a look at Alpe d’Huez, host town of the 1968 winter olympics and a big favourite for skiers and cyclists.
We had to start the list with one of the top destinations for both skiers and for cyclists. The village of Alpe d’Huez only has 1400 permanent inhabitants, which swells significantly in the winter. Head of International Operations Alex has done a whopping 6 ski seasons in Alpe d’Huez so he knows it well.
Alpe d’Huez will give you a nice mix of things to do in the town as well as a lot of varied terrain for skiers and snowboarders. There is an outdoor swimming pool and the indoor Palais des Sports is fantastic with indoor tennis courts, squash and an excellent gym, all included with your ski pass if you pay a little bit extra. The resort has 250km of pistes and it boasts the longest black run in Europe, the Sarenne which is also used in the summer to host the downhill mountain bike race, the Megavalanche. There are a few different villages that link into the Alpe d’Huez ski area including Vilard Reculas, Auris, Oz and Vaujany. Other activities include night skiing and a car racing circuit on ice.
Tour de France
Alpe d’Huez has been a stage town on the Tour de France 29 times so it will be the 30th time on the Tour in 2018. In 1952, Fausto Coppi inaugurated with success the climb with 21 bends. The series of wins of Zoetemelk, Kuiper or Winnen later gave it the name of “Dutch Mountain” before the Italians and the likes of Bugno and Pantani started shining there. The French ahve strung togetehr a nice series of wins here. Bernard Hinault was the first to win there in 1986 and in 2011, Pierre Rolland won and in 2013 for the first ever double climb of the monument, the Tricolor flag was again flying high thanks to Christophe Riblon. The series continued in 2015 with the victory of Thibaut Pinot.
The 2018 Tour de France will visit Alpe d’Huez with a stage finish. We have 2 tours that take in this visit to Alpe d’Huez, Alps, Pyrenees to Paris and Annecy to Alpe d’Huez:
The infamous Marmotte Gran Fondo also takes place in Alpe d’Huez every July and this is one of the toughest days out on a bike for an amateur cyclist. You will scale the likes of the Croix du Fer, Col du Glandon, Col du Galibier, ahead of the final climb up to Alpe d’Huez.
The week-long Haute Route Alps lets amateur cyclists sample the pro cyclist life for a week and it has has also visited Alpe d’Huez many times over the last few years. In 2018 the route includes a section of the Alpe d’Huez climb before finishing in nearby Les 2 Alpes.
Prepare for your summer cycling season with our warm weather spring training camp in Albir. You'll experience daily guided rides on the roads which are of good quality and there is a choice of either coastal, hilly and even mountainous rides.