Northern Alps

24 July to 3 August 2016

The single NEW route for 2016 and a definite step-up from the Southern Alps. Most stages with over 5000m of climbing, the route is as ‘Grand’ as the scenery. There is a perfect mix of Big Names and ‘CCC Gems’, with roads ranging from the typical CCC ‘rustic’ to busier ‘tourist highways’ (not literally, but well-frequented & well tarmac’d!). This will be as intense as any other CCC and just as beautiful. Two double-night-stays in hotels take off the relentless re-packing stress slightly. Warning : some high elevation will require careful clothing preparation for this event.

ONE : Grenoble to Belley

Stats: 176km / 5400m

Main climbs: Porte, Granier, Epine, Mont du Chat

Description: The Chartreuse stage, with special views over the Lac du Bourget. Big climbing from km 2, this stage sets the flavour for the whole event. After the Classic Climb up to the Granier the stage explores lesser known roads, culminating with the formidable Mont du Chat (reputedly one of the hardest treasures in the Alpine cupboard).

TWO : Belley to Annecy

Stats: 211km / 5900m

Main climbs: Richemond, Grand Colombier, Sapenay, Semnoz-Chatillon

Description: From the Ain to Annecy : the Richmond / Grand Colombier duo will be the stand-out feature of this ride. A wonderful plateau section follows the opening climb of this stage before some steep passages mid-stage. The Semnoz makes a monumental finale to this long, challenging day.

THREE : Annecy to Albertville

Stats: 175 km / 4960m

Main climbs: Plan Bois, Croix Fry, Saisies, Arpettez

Description: The Aravis stage : some classics in between the 'back-road' climbs. The longer the Arpettaz remains a 'secret' the better! A Classic Alpine route with the Plan Bois & Arpettaz slipped in here to make it a true CCC stage !

FOUR : Albertville to Bourg St Maurice

Stats: 156km / 4950m

Main climbs: Cyclotourists, Pré, Cormet de Roseland, Petit St Bernard

Description: Cranking up the altitude a bit now. Some truly dramatic roads here. Big Alpine Stuff ! The opening climb is as hard as any on the event. A back-road 'intimate' climb with some 'serious' gradient takes us out of Albertville and towards the more familiar roads, but that are so, so beautiful. The up & back Petit St Bernard climb ends the stage with fitting drama.

FIVE : Bourg St Maurice to Sestriere

Stats: 180km / 5500m

Main climbs: Iseran, Mont Cenis, Finestre, Sestriere

Description: The Franco-Italian stage, with the monumental Iseran to open and the classic duo of Finestre/Sestriere to close. Epic. The long road up to the Iseran takes time to reveal its' true assets in the final 15 kms, but your patience is well rewarded. A superb descent takes us down and along to the Mont Cenis from where another flowing descent brings us to the formidable Fenestre climb. Pure magic.

SIX : Sestriere to Gap

Stats: 210km / 5600m

Main climbs: Sestriere, Montgenevre, Izoard, Pontis, Fillys, Mont Colombis

Description: The Italian-Franco stage : a mix of Classic and discovery : the Izoard is always a special treat, but the latter part of the route may impress equally : the Pontis & Fillys are wonderful 'intimate' climbs and the up & back Mont Colombis is undoubtedly one of the hardest up's of the whole event...

Rest Day in GAP

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Main climbs:

Description:

SEVEN : Gap to Alpe d'Huez

Stats: 195km / 5800m

Main climbs: Noyer, Festre, Parquetout, Ornon, Saulude, Alpe d'H (Poultran)

Description: The Devoluy Plateau will be an eye catcher for those who haven't seen this. As will be the CCC-way of arriving at Bourg d'Oisans. Finally, where everyone else finishes at the Alpe, the CCC of course continues along the "Route des Lacs" to the Col de Poultran.

EIGHT : Alpe d'Huez to Alpe d'Huez

Stats: 204km / 5800m

Main climbs: Glandon, Croix de Fer, Mollard, Trois Croix, Telegraphe,Galibier, Sarenne

Description: The CCC version of the Marmotte. More kms & more climbs, naturally. This includes a lesser-ridden loop behind St Michel de Maurienne, as well, of course ,as the Sarenne. IF the Chabron tunnel is still closed, the Plan B route will include the Madeleine and the Chaussy, in place of the Galibier.

NINE : Alpe d'Huez to Vassieux en Vercors

Stats: 201km / 3800m

Main climbs: Morte, Malissol, Menée, Rousset

Description: UP the way the Tour came down in 2015, the Col de Morte opens with Big Guns before we head into the Drome and then the Vercors for some more fun. Steady climbs mark this stage though, with little steep anywhere, as typified by the final long but gentle climb up to the Col de Rousset.

TEN : Vassieux to Grenoble

Stats: 174km / 3900m

Main climbs: Portette, Machine, Carri, Pra l'Etang, Challimont

Description: The drama of the roads of the Vercors provide a fitting way to end this event. The Combe Laval / Col de la Machine section is often quoted as one of the most impressive roads in France. follow this with the Pra l'Etang, and you have a N Alps Grande Finale right there !