Tour de France 2021 – Other Areas (Part 3)

Tour de France LogoExploring the climbs and passes for my Tour de France 2021, I’ve started with those in and close to our base camp, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

In my two previous posts, I’ve covered the possibilities a bit further away, not requiring a car transfer before getting on my bike.

Today’s post concentrates on climbs which do need a car transfer.

Well, all except one…


Neighbouring the Maurienne Valley, you’ll enter into Isère either via the Croix de Fer (or Glandon) or the Lautaret.

I will most likely not go west of the D1091, between Allemond and Le Clapier, with Bourg-d’Oisans halfway.

Alpe d’Huez

As stated on the page dedicated to this climb: what could I possibly tell you that hasn’t been told already?

If you haven’t read that page: I’ve climbed the Alpe d’Huez nine times so far, five of which on the same day, during my fundraiser Alpe d’HuZes event.

So, this year would be my tenth ascend, if I leave it at that 🤪

The most obvious way to include this in a stage, would be to cycle an alternative Marmotte.

From what I can tell reading the official website, they have gone through great lengths to get over the Croix de Fer, but this was refused.

Instead, the route will pass over the Glandon, which – to the best of my knowledge – has always been the route.

Not sure why they wanted the Croix de Fer and why this was refused.

Most obvious reason is that it would add some altimeters and it would avoid part of the boring stretch between Saint-Etienne-de-Cuines and Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, as you would most likely descend to Villargondran.

But as either alternative of this Gran Fondo almost passes my doorstep, I would get on my bike there.

I could follow the (normal) clockwise course, i.e. get up the Télégraphe – Galibier, down the Lautaret and then either get up the Alpe, or take the Sarenne to get in Huez.

Either way, I would probably descend the Villard-Reculas alternative of the Alpe and end up in Rochetaillée for my Croix de Fer or Glandon.

Then again, my prologue is most definitely going to be the Croix de Fer, so for the clockwise option, I would stick to the Gladon and go on down to Saint-Etienne-de-Cuines.

The other alternative is to go counterclockwise, meaning up the (hard part of) the Glandon, climb the “classic” Alpe d’Huez route and get back down to Bourg-d’Oissans or go down over the Sarenne to continue the Lautaret – Galibier from the dam (Barrage du Chambon).

Taking the Villard-Reculas route in this alternative (as an ascend) is less appealing, although that climb is actually nicer than the “classic”, imho.

Not to mention I could just start with the Croix de Fer, but that almost certainly will be my epilogue, so not really…

Options, options – too many options 😎

Les Deux Alpes – La Bérarde

Instead of doing half of the Marmotte mentioned above to get to either of these, I would most likely make it a stage with a car transfer.

I could combine them into one ride.

Les Deux Alpes

Starting in Le Clapier, Les Deux Alpes is almost 20 kms long, but not all of it uphill.

The first 9 kms it has in common with the Lautaret up to the dam (Barrage du Chambon). I’ve done the Lautaret as prologue in my 2017 Tour de France, in really bad weather.

To save time, I could start at the dam – we’re most likely passing it anyway – and climb the remaining 11 kms from there.

That final, taking the flat 2 kms towards the finish out of the equation, is averaging 8.7%.

La Bérarde

I’ve only ever cycled up la Bérarde on my Tacx and I remember it was not easy. Well, uphill never is for me, but this one is a silent killer.

It’s a whopping 27 kms long, but the hard part is in the middle. I was probably getting a bit over-confident when I was like 7 to 8 kms in…

For la Berarde, I will have to get to le Clapier first, so most logical would be to do that first, then return and climb up to Les Deux Alpes and get back in the car.

The first ~9 kms are averaging not much more than 2.5% with a few stingers, but otherwise more undulating than really climbing.

This is followed by a 5 kms stretch that’s around 10%, followed by a flat section of 2.5 kms, after which there’s another stinging section of ~3 kms at 10%.

The final 11 kms are again not involving any heavy climbing, where the grades seldom go above 5%.

Col de Sarenne

This climb also starts at the dam, so to make it harder to chose, I now have another option to combine either of the above climbs with.

If I would climb – or prefer – the Col de Sarenne over la Bérarde, I would most likely not go further down to le Clapier.

Then again, this leaves another option open: go down the classic Alpe d’Huez and circle back to that to chose either la Bérarde or Les Deux Alpes.

From the dam – starting from le Clapier, see Les Deux Alpes – this climb is an all but easy 13 kms long, averaging 8%, but most of it is (above) 9%, as there are two 2 kms stretches that are flat-ish.


Yet another climb – and option to combine – is the dead end climb up to the Auris ski station.

Actually, it’s not really a dead end, only the last 3 kms are, as you can approach Maire d’Auris, where that final starts, from Bourg-d’Oisans or Freney-d’Oisans.

That means either taking a right off the Alpe d’Huez route at la Garde, or start in Freney, with the optional start further down in – there it is again – le Clapier.

While it may not seem impressive at under 1,600 m, it offers some great views on the valley below.

Vaujany – Col du Sabot

At the northern end of the D1091, so starting in Allemond, there are two more climbs to be had, both dead ends.

Both are forks off the Croix de Fer, one starting half way past and the other at the end of the Lac du Verney.

Most interesting is the Col du Sabot, passing through Vaujany.

It’s 14.5 kms long, averaging (a whopping) 9%, maxing out at 14% and no less than 7.5 kms over 10%.


Oz Station

Good warming up for the Sabot would be up and down to Oz Station (Oz-en-Oissans)

It’s about 7.5 kms long, averaging 7.4%, which is also the grade over most of the distance, maxing out at 12.1%…

So, with that, I think I’ve covered my alternatives in this area and I will surprise myself when the day/stage comes.

I’ll probably make it more than one stage and on a really good day, I may even feel compelled to climb the Lautaret – Galibier (from the dam) too, again 😂

As stated, even if I take on the Sabot and/or Oz, I’ll (most likely) not combine that with (another) Croix de Fer.

And yes, I’m aware that Col d’Ornon and Villard-Reculas or Villard-Reymond and Villard-Notre-Dame are at the other (west) side of the D1091, but I’ve been there, done that and the Ornon is not interesting enough for another visit.

I’m looking for more “nice to haves” further away, but as those all require most likely long car transfers, I’ll look into those after we have arrived in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

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