Cent Cols Challenge Alps

Now in its sixth year, the Rapha Cent Cols Challenge Alps has been revised and restructured to include new climbs and stages. Starting in Carros-Nice, the 2014 edition will take the Alps ‘backwards’, starting at the Promenade des Anglais and stretching over the backbone of the Alps to Lake Annecy.

Here the riders will take a rest day, finding respite in Europe’s most pristine lake, before heading back out along the famous ‘Best of the Alps’ route towards Ventoux. The final two stages streak south via the extraordinary Route des Corniches, taking the riders to the finish in Carros-Nice.

Phil Deeker has created a route that will challenge and reward even seasoned Alpine riders, mixing little known cols alongside such favourites as the Alpe d’Huez, Col de Madeleine and Col d’Izoard.

Dates:
Monday 9th June to Thursday 19th June 2014

Features:

  • The original Cent Cols Challenge
  • Combines Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez, Col d’Izoard and Col de Madeleine
  • Spectacular lesser-known climbs
  • Rest day at Lake Annecy
  • Reworked routes with new cols

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Stage One: Carros-Nice to Valberg

Stats: 194km (5770m climbing)
Main climbs: Eze, Braus, Turini, St Martin (17 Cols in total)
Description: A massive stage to open proceedings. After a couple of warm-up climbs we do the Eze properly followed by the progreesive rise up to the Col de Braus. A Long climb into the back-hills of the Cote d’Azur. The Turini tops this section before the last big climb of the stage: the Col St Martin. The first of the big three stages.

Stage Two : Valberg to Sisteron

Stats: 198km (3400m of climbing)
Main climbs: Champs, Defend, Corobin, Fontbelle
Description: Climbing the Col de Champs from this side is quite something. A few clicks of faux-plat beforhand to warm the legs will be useful. The rest of thestagewill feel (relatively) tame after this. Just as well, after stage one. However through the final “Route du Temps” section there are some serious lumps before the great run-in to Sisteron.

Stage Three : Sisteron to Briancon

Stats: 187km (4040m of climbing)
Main climbs: Sagnes, Pontis, Fillys, Izoard
Description: 40kms of gradual uphill opens this one. Some useful rolling roads folllow before we tackle the rough, steep climb up to the Col de Pontis. From there it is all about the lead up to the Col d’Izoard. This side will give us superb views of the Casse Deserte section in the evening light.

Stage Four : Briancon to Albertville

Stats: 241km (5700m of climbing)
Main climbs: Lauteret, Sarenne,Alpe d’Huez, Glandon, Ventour, Madeleine
Description: The Queen stage of the event. Most of the route is new here. The Col de Sarenne will be featured in the Tour in 2013. A narrow, dramatic climb and an impressive way to climb up to the Alpe. Half-way down the Alpe we cut across the hillside to avoid the main valley road and head up the Col du Glandon. Once through St Jean de Maurienne we fit in a little known climb (Ventour) on our way to the hardest side of the Madeleine. Not a bad day on the bike.

Stage Five : Albertville to Annecy

Stats: 166km (4700m of climbing)
Main climbs: Tamie, Montessuit, Saisies, Croix Fry, Plan Bois, Esserieux, Forclaz
Description: Four new climbs open this stage along a quiet loop north of Albertville. Having warmed the legs, we tackle the long 30km slog up to the Saisies. The climb to the Aravis is not much easier, with the steep Plan Bois still to come. But at least this stage is shorter…

REST DAY : Annecy

Description: A lakeside hotel to relax in and admire the cleanest lake in Europe.

Stage Six : Annecy to Montmelian

Stats: 191km (4680m of climbing)
Main climbs: Semnoz, Mont Revard, Frene, Champ-Laurent, Marocaz
Description: Straight up for amazing Alpine views from the top. More of the same above the Mont Revard forest makes this stage quite scenic (what’s new, you might say). A couple more new climbs fitted in before the Marocaz, an old favourite of this stage.

Stage Seven : Montmelian to Vassieux-en-Vercors

Stats: 218km (5580m of climbing)
Main climbs: Granier, Egaux, Mille Martyrs, Lacharé, Romeyere, Pra l’Etang, Machine
Description: The last of the Big Three. From the Chartreuse to the Vercors, we cross some pretty serious climbs starting with the Granier on the ‘proper’ side. We avoid main roads this time when crossing the Isere valley and include several new climbs. So busy times before then heading up the severe Romeyere climb. This way the Pra l’Etang climb is not so bad, allowing riders to save their legs for the Col de la Machine, the final big climb of the stage.

Stage Eight : Vassieux to Bedoin

Stats: 205km (4680m of climbing)
Main climbs: Pennes, Vignes, Soubeyrand, Veaux, Mont Ventoux
Description: A long descent begins the stage before the tough steep climb up the Col de Pennes and the gateway into the Drome region. Back on the original route here all the way to the Grand Finale to this stage: only the Ventoux after 180kms of hilly roads….

Stage Nine : Bedoin to Moustiers-Ste-Marie

Stats: 210km ( 3800m of climbing)
Main climbs: Homme Mort, Macuegne, La Lure
Description: The road up through the Gorges de la Nesque, south of Bedoin, is a real treat to open this stage. Some rolling climbing beyond Sault keeps us busy until we meet the ‘Little Ventoux’, as the Lure mountain is known locally. More rolling ‘hills’ with quiet roads take us to the door of the Verdon.

Stage Ten : Moustiers to Carros-Nice

Stats: 206km (4300m of climbing)
Main climbs: Iloire, St Barnabé, Buis, Trebuchet, Pimipnier, Vence
Description: The “Corniche Sublime” route we take through the Gorges du Verdon is one of the most spectacular roads one can take a bicycle. After this mind-blowing section comes a tough ascent up to the St Barnabé. A short gentler section follows before the super-steep Col du Buis (another new climb). Which just leaves the stunning Roquestron/Coursegoules loop leading us to the easy bump up over the Col de Vence and a LONG downhill all the way (believe me.) to the finish line.

Full price of trip: £2550

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