This summer I will ride a week long cycling tour broadly following the Route des Grande Alpes. It will include many of the most famous climbs in France. We are all getting a little excited as hotels get reserved, plane tickets bought and the plans generally firmed up.
So here is stage one of the upcoming July 2008 Lost Boys Tour d’Enfer*. A trip organized by my friend Leslie that will include people from the USA, Canada, France, Turkey, Germany, and Switzerland.
All 2008 Tour d’Enfer previews are here.
*Tour of Hell
Day 1: Morzine to La Clusaz
The Stage: Approximately 76 kilometres (47 miles); Ascent: 2,400 metres (7,875 feet)
After meeting in Geneva (click “View Larger Map” link below map to see Geneva hotel) we will drive to Morzine to begin the first day. The route will include two great climbs: Col de Joux Plane and Col de la Colombiere (details below).
Col de Joux Plane
The Climb: 12.3 kilometres (7.6 miles); Ascent: 770 metres (2,525 feet)
Day one and the first mountain starts immediately from Morzine. And the beginning of this legendary climb is steep – with two kilometres at 10% – welcome to the Alps!
Le Cycle Magazine in 2005 included Col de Joux Plane in its list of the 30 most beautiful climbs in France – and if it’s sunny you will be rewarded at the top with great views of Mont Blanc. We will be climbing the less famous but still challenging North side and descending the South side.
Col de Joux Plane first appeared in the Tour de France in 1978, then five times in a row from 1980 and is now a regular stop for the Tour. It is one of the very few climbs that has seen Lance Armstrong struggle.
Back in 2000, French hero Richard Virenque left Armstrong far behind on Joux Plane to win the stage. In 2006, Joux Plane was the final climb on the great comeback ride by Landis.
After a pretty hairy descent to Samoens, we’ll ride through a scenic, fairly flat valley before starting a little climb and long descent towards Cluses and the start of the next big climb (this middle stretch will be busier traffic wise).
Col de la Colombiere
The Climb: 19.5 kilometres (12.1 miles); Ascent: 1,150 metres (3,770 feet)
Colombe means “Dove” in french. We will be climbing the Col de la Colombiere from its classic north-east side. Since 1960 this Col has appeared 18 times in the Tour de France including stage 7 in 2007. It was also included in Le Cycle’s list of the 30 most beautiful climbs in France. The last stretch gets quite steep and is often into a head-wind.
From the top of Colombiere, it’s only 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) to the hotel, after a long, very fast descent, the last 4 kilometres are uphill – though not at all steep – they might really hurt after a big day.
Note: There are a bike repair stores in Morzine and an excellent one on today’s route in Cluses (see map).
- Start Morzine:
- Exit town towards South: Follow D354 and signs to Col de Joux Plane
- Stay on D354 and climb and descend Joux Plane into Samoens
- In Samoens: ignore signs to Taninges. cross river towards Morrillon
- Ride past Morillon for several kilometres.
- Turn Left at D902 – a small climb – following signs to Cluses
- WARNING: the road will now become busier until exiting Cluses
- At Chatillon long descent into Cluses
- Stay on D902 through Cluses (a pretty big town)
- As leaving Cluses turn right on N205 (busy road)
- just a few hundred yards later turn left on D4 looking for Col de la Colombiere signs
- D4 is the climb, stay on D4 until finished descending Colombiere
- Just after Grand Bornand, follow signs to La Clusaz joining D909 as D4 ends
- Small climb up to La Clusaz and the Hotel Beaulieu – congratulations!