Courchevel is a very posh ski resort (David Beckham stayed here with wife Posh) in the Trois Vallées region of the French Alps. It was the finish line for stage 10 of the 2005 Tour de France, won by Valverde but where Armstrong took back the lead on the way to winning his final Tour.
You may think you are finished when you reach Courchevel 1850 – which strangely is at 1,750 metres . But the road continues up to the “Altiport”, an airport for the rich and famous, at 2000 metres.
Note in the photo, the airport sign has Russian as well. Courcheval is extremely popular with the Russian Oil rich – and a senior Russian was arrested this winter for his part in running a call girl service at Courcheval.
It’s not steepest climb, but at almost 28 kilometres it is a big work-out – see grade photo. It’s a beautiful route surrounded by huge mountains. There are several little villages with very fancy chalets – the beautiful people ski here.
I rode this in the last day of April, and although the skiing was done, it was still cold up top. On the descent I was freezing. Combined with the bumpy surface and fairly frequent traffic, and that I am the world’s worst descender, things got a little hairy; At least it wasn’t raining – until a couple of kilometres into the descent. Yikes. I survived, although on arrival I had lost all feeling in my wet, cold, tightly gripped break hands.
While a superb ride, the fact that there is a fair bit of fast traffic – especially down low – even in off season, stops this from being a true favorite.