At the base of Alpe d’Huez’s 21 bends, Bourg d’Oisans offers the perfect playground for duathletes who run 6.7km through both the foothills of the town and through its charming centre. This first running loop is relatively short but unfolds in an electric atmosphere and at an impressive pace. The start-line is situated at the football pitch, where the first transition (T1) park is set up.
15km of pure delight; there is no other way to describe the cycling section of the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon! After a quick 2 kilometres from T1, the duathletes enter into the temple of cycling, a legendary climb which requires a decent amount of courage and a good dose of willpower. The races during the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon make up some of the rare occasions where athletes can tackle this climb in race conditions, which of course has the atmosphere that goes with it. The strategy is simple : for this sprint format the participants must give the bike their all!
The final running section has been extended this year! The runners will have the chance to prove themselves over 5.5km which now is similar to that of the Triathlon routes later in the week. The icing on the cake for the duathletes over the course of this new loop will be the slopes of the Sarenne, the most difficult part of the circuit, which makes that finishing medal feel even more special.
One 2.2km lap in the crystal clear waters of Lac du Verney is the first epic stage of an unforgettable day. Nestled in a majestic natural amphitheatre of mountains, the mass launch at the starting line (at 9 30am for the women, and 9 45am for the men) offers a stunning spectacle in itself, respecting the original spirit of triathlons. The lake is home to an EDF hydroelectric power station, which stops running during the race (swimming is forbidden here the rest of the year). The average water temperature for the last five years is around 17 degrees.
The Alpe d’Huez Triathlon L is the crowning glory of the week for one simple reason : its extraordinary cycling route. The 118km boasts 3200m of positive ascent, and starts by a fast pedal down the Oisans valley to join the foot of Alpe du Grand Serre, which is also the first col of the day (15km at 6.5%). This is followed by a long segment in the rolling hills of the Valbonnais valley and an ascension of the Col du Malissol (2.4km at 8.5%), where the scenery is sublime. During this section there is a possibility of picking up a personal food supply at the 60km point. The Col d’Ornon, which steepens as it goes, is the third big undertaking of the bike circuit, before riders dive into the dizzyingly fast descent to Bourg d’Oisans. Here the legend begins, with the conquest of famous 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez (13.9km at 8%). For most athletes, the main issue of the ride is being able to reach the foot of the Alpe d’Huez climb with enough strength to climb properly, and to be able to transition smoothly to the running race. Patience is needed here, especially during the first 3 bends which are by far the most arduous.
As well as its tough cycling circuit, the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon L is known for is difficulty overall, from start to finish. Once the triathletes enter the second transition zone (T2) the race has still a way to go : the three laps of a 6.7km loop are far from just a formality. On mixed terrain (both road and trail), the route heads towards the Col de Sarenne; a balcony over a breath-taking panorama. As well as the 300m of ascent to climb (100m per lap), the altitude is an extra difficulty to take into consideration. Sitting at an altitude of 1800m, the running route is as gorgeous as it is demanding. How else would you top off a race as such as this?!
With only 1.2km to tackle, the swim of the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon M is as fast as it is intense. The initial women’s start 15 minutes before the departure of the men, with around 400 women expected, makes this one of the most dynamic and exciting triathlons for female athletes. The mass start for the men too confirms the race as one of the most epic in the international triathlon calendar for everyone. The lake is home to an EDF hydroelectric power station, which stops running during the race (swimming is forbidden here the rest of the year). The average water temperature for the last five years is around 17 degrees.
The cycle route is split into two parts. First of all the triathletes ride a short 15km section along the stunning valley between Lac du Verney and Bourg d’Oisans. Hopefully the triathletes haven’t used all of their energy on this section, because next is the famous Alpe d’Huez climb. The 21 bends are the biggest challenge of the day, winding their way up 13.9km of 8% gradient. Under the July sun the climb can feel even longer and more impressive, living up to its reputation. The public and the members of our organisational team will be there to cheer on and support the triathletes around every bend and precipitous switchback. At the end of the bike section through the streets of Alpe d’Huez the transition zone comes quickly – no rest for the wicked!
Sitting at 1800m altitude and taking in 100m of ascent, the running section of the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon M is worth every second. Whatever their level, the triathletes must give their all to get to the end of the 6.7km loop which pushes the athletes on both road and trial and offers in exchange some of the most stunning vistas one can get from the resort. The smiles of pride and accomplishment at the finish line are telling : this race is as demanding as it is exciting!