It’s back! France's favourite sporting event will include Alpe d'Huez's legendary 21 bends once more.
The Battle of the Alps will take place this year on a route tailor-made for the best climbers in the field, before the race moves on to stages more favoured to the sprinters.
There is always a massive turn-out for this famous race and the streets of Alpe d'Huez will be lined with cheering fans. Get there early if you want a good spot as there will be people camping out all along the route well in advance.
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What to see
The tour has visited Alpe d'Huez more than 30 times, and many fans feel that a tour that doesn't go through Alpe d'Huez has something missing, certainly from a spectators point of view who flock in their droves to cheer the cyclists up the 21 hairpin bends. If you're planning to go to watch the stage this year, here are some tips on getting the most from your Alpe d'Huez tour:
- Arrive the day before - if that's not possible you will need to use the lifts/cable cars from Oz en Oisans or Auris en Oisans to access Alpe d'Huez.
- Road access - you should plan to reach Bourg d'Oisans before 09:30 (at the latest) as the roads will be completely closed. They usually close the night before until mid-morning the day after the race.
- Parking - parking in advance between Patte d'Oie and Alpe d'Huez is completely forbidden and will be enforced by the police.
The Tour de France has an entourage of professional tour followers from all over the world, who know exactly where the best viewpoints are and position themselves in them well in advance of the stage arriving. If you want to be at the finish line (and you're probably too late already), then you need to stake your claim early on and be prepared for a long wait with sufficient snacks and drinks, plus shade and sunscreen to see you through. However, the time flies, the atmosphere is electric especially as the excitement builds in anticipation of the caravan and then cyclists arrival. Alternatively position yourself on one of the many bends for the uphill where the cyclists can't/won't whizz past.
It is often estimated hundreds of thousands of fans gather here for the race, however, this isn't always without some controversy, with heavy police intervention occasionally required. Wherever you put yourself, always be respectful of the riders at all times.
A regular stage in the Tour de France, it was first included in 1952, and has been a regular stage finish since 1976, racking up over 30 appearances on the Tour.
In 2013, stage 18 included a double ascent of the climb in the same day, with riders descending via Col de Sarenne before heading up again to finish at the top.
Facts & figures
The climb to Alpe d'Huez starts in the town of Bourg d'Oisans and covers 13.8km at an average gradient of 8.11%, with the steepest at 11.5%, before reaching the summit at 1,815m.
Only one rider, Geraint Thomas, has won the stage whilst in the yellow jersey, back in 2018 - when he also also won the overall Tour.
Alpe d'Huez has been nicknamed the Dutch Mountain since so many Dutch riders have won the stage - eight of the first 14 finishes.
The climb has been timed since 1994, with Italian rider Marco Pantani holding the fastest time at 37 minutes and 35 seconds.
Each one of the 21 bends is named after previous winners of the stage, each with a number and plaque.