This stage is from the Haute Route Alps 2013. More information on the Haute Route Alps's 2014 course will be available soon.
Here come the big names! Col d’Izoard, Col de Vars, and the final ascent to Pra Loup – where Eddy Merckx famously passed out for the first time, and where he was defeated in 1975 by the French champion, Bernard Thevenet. Haute Route riders will cover these big 3 ascents in a total of 109km. Top tip: book a long massage the night before to help get over yesterday’s marathon stage and prepare for this mountainous one.
As with the marathon stage, the main enemy on day 4 is cumulative fatigue, which gets harder with each day in the saddle. A fit cyclist with fresh legs has nothing to fear in the beautiful Col d’Izoard, which meanders up through pine forests from Cervieres – nowhere near as tough as climbing from the other side via the legendary ‘Casse Deserte’. The same can be said about the Col de Vars. From Guillestre, riders climb 1100 vertical metres to the summit over 20 km. The 400m final climb up to Pra Loup should also present no great problems, with less than 8 kilometres of true climbing from Barcelonnette up to the main resort.
So there it is – there’s still 3000m of elevation gain in this 4th stage, which never descends below 1300m of altitude and goes over 2000m twice. It’s not meant to be easy! It’s the Haute Route.
By Claude Droussent, world renowned cycling journalist
Key features of the 4th stage:
• Start from Serre Chevalier on Wednesday 21st August (exact timings to be confirmed)
• Arrival in Pra Loup in the beginning of the afternoon
• 118 km to cover, including 109 km which will be timed
• 3000 meters of elevation gain / 2800 meters of descent
• 2 refreshment points along the route
3 climbs of the day:
• Col d’Izoard, 2360m altitude, 1156 metres altitude gain over 19km.
• Col de Vars, 2109m altitude, 1109 metres altitude gain over 20,5km.
• Ascent to Pra Loup, 1598m altitude, 378 metres altitude gain over 7,5km.