Nowadays, each day during the summer, an average of 1,000 cyclists climb this mythical ascent. Still, the record set by Marco Pantini remains unbroken. At the Tour de France in 1997 the battle for the stage win was against Jan Ullrich, at the end winning the Tour, and Richard Virenque, finishing first in the mountains’ classification. So it can be said, that Marco Pantini was in good company. He finished the climb in 37m35s, which means an average speed of 23kph.
Aple d’Huez is a climb in the style of Hollywoord, a climb that made champions
Maybe it is wise to first warm up on the straight roads in the valley, as the start of the climb is a real killer. You have 21 bends for the taken before you can finally put your arms up as being the winner. Each bend is numbered, back in the days for the snow blades, today this numbering is for the tens of thousands cyclists trying to tackle this legendary climb. Right from the start it is like hitting a wall, as you will be facing gradient of more than 10%. This fearful start continues up to bend 17. So roughly the first 3 kilometers can already kill your legs.
The bends are relatively flat, so this is a perfect moment to catch some breathe. Also nice, in each bend there is a sign of the stage winner at the Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France. Just perfect, getting some historical facts while giving it your best. Will you remember all the names when arriving at the top…??? Maybe you can set up quiz with your friends, to see who can name the most. The best way to win, remember the Dutch cyclists as the Dutch had eight wins at the Alpe d’Huez and therefore is often called ‘Dutch Mountain’.
When you have tackled the first 5 out of 21 hairpins bends it will get easier to pick up some pace and get a better rhythm in your pedaling. The average gradient after bend 5 will be around 8%. Closer to the summit you have to push the pedals hard again to overcome sections of 10%. In total you will cover a distance of 13.2km, gaining 1.061 altimeters, against an average gradient of 7.9%.