Zone3 départ Triathlon Alpe d'Huez 2019

5 tips for tackling the Alpe d'Huez Duathlon 2020

Alpe d'Huez Duathlon start in Bourg d'Oisans

It’s a classic. Each year, we offer you some advice on how to get the best out of the Alpe d’Huez – Bourg d’Oisans Duathlon. With 20% growth expected in 2020, this is the format that is expanding the most among the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon events. The 12th edition includes a change in size (3km to be exact): the second run is lengthened from 2.5km to 5.5km. So here are a few clues to be at the top on July 28th. (photos by Cyrille Quintard)

1 – The preparation of the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon: no secret…

Climb, climb, and climb again. To perform well on this event, hit the hills, but especially try to practice on long climbs. Training in the mountains will give you a real advantage on the day. If you don’t have the opportunity, and you live in a desperately flat area for those looking for a percentage, don’t panic! There are specific training methods if you investigate a little. In any case, integrate well this principle: this race requires a very special effort, so your preparation must adapt accordingly. Get out of your habits!

2 – First run in Bourg d’Oisans: do not fall into the trap

The first run of the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon perfectly sets the tone for the race. Usually taking place in the very hot weather (WARNING: the start is brought forward to 15.00 instead of 16.00), and climbing towards the foothills of the town, this 6.5km introduction is much more demanding and difficult than it seems. Unless you want to be at the forefront, be conservative and don’t succumb to the euphoric start of the other participants! You’ll have plenty of time to make a difference later on.

Alpe d'Huez Duathlon run in Bourg d'Oisans
Alpe d’Huez Duathlon first run takes place in the streets of Bourg d’Oisans in the valley

3 – Second run at Alpe d’Huez: the big change

The best runners will finally be able to have a good time with the new layout of the second run. The loop covers almost the entire circuit used for the two triathlons, and therefore includes the famous last bends of the Col de Sarenne. This changes everything, as the last 5.5km long race will now have to be well managed, whereas it was more of an agonizing sprint before. On the bike, it is now essential to keep energy to complete a solid race.

4 – Nutrition: hydration and energy at the heart of performance

In 2019, heat records were broken in Oisans during Triathlon Week. The conditions during the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon proved to be very difficult for the participants. Hydration is a fundamental aspect before, during and after the effort. Be rigorous, all the more so as the circuits leave little pause for recovery! Note that the Hydrixir drink from our partner Overstim.s will once again be available at the aid stations. Your health is at stake above all. Similarly, on such a short format, think about your immediate energy sources to maintain a good level of intensity. Establish your nutrition strategy and test it before the day.

5 – The material: don’t make mistakes

The dry ascent of the 21 bends that await the participants of the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon implies a good choice of gears. If you are not well accustomed to this type of effort, plan a 38X25 development or even a triple plateau for beginners. You may not have the use of it, but in case of a hard blow, it allows you to continue your ascent while trying to recover. Also, remember that two transition parks require two pairs of shoes! Plan ahead to make the most of this extraordinary experience.

Alpe d'Huez Duathlon bend nº3
Keep smiling. Alpe d’Huez Duathlon is super tough, but it’s an amazing experience

Zone3 triathlete Tim Don Alpe d'Huez Triathlon

When Tim Don, Zone3 triathlete, tells about Alpe d'Huez Triathlon M experience

TIM DON Alpe d'Huez Triathlon Zone3

Zone3, official swimming partner of the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon, offers you the testimony and advices of Tim Don, winner of the 2011 Triathlon M.

The Alpe d’Huez Triathlon is renowned as being one of the most scenically stunning triathlons available, with its mountainous paths, steep climbs and an altitude that tests even the strongest of athletes. This triathlon features a challenging 21-hairpin ascent, made famous by the Tour de France. The triathlons short and long-distance options are the perfect challenge for anyone wanting to really push themselves. (cover photo Credit : Robert Rathbone/220 Triathlon)

With a swim in Verney Lake, a bike ride through the famous Alpe d’Huez ascent and a 2000m above sea level run, this triathlon is one for the bucket list.

“What a classic race the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon is!” – Tim Don


“I raced in 2011 as a preparation for the WCS Hyde Park Race which was to follow 10 days later. I raced the shorter distance event and it was as epic as you can imagine. The Alpe d’Huez Triathlon is renowned as being one of the most scenic triathlons, with beautifully mountainous routes. Situated in the heart of the Alps and in the Oisans Valley, this race is really like no other.


TIM DON Tips Alpe d'Huez Triathlon


The 1.2km lap short-distance swim is in a bright blue lake fed by a glacier and proved to be bonkers cold. I recommend the use of an extra swimcap, although the average water temperature in the lake is 17°C. I would recommend preparing yourself with a land-based warm-up rather than a wet warm-up, as you won’t want to be getting cold unnecessarily before your race. I came out of the water in a comfortable 4th position, only around 20 seconds after Cesc Godoy (ESP) and Andreas and Florian Salvisberg (SUI). The Alpe d’Huez Triathlon, held in the hottest part of the summer, is known for having sunny circuits with just a few shaded parts, so it was easy to warm up after the chilly swim.


Zone3 Banner Alpe d'Huez EN


The cycle route of the Alpe d’Huez course echoes the route in the Tour de France, and with its 21 switchbacks, hairpin turns and Dutch corner, pacing is absolute key. The first 15km of the cycle leg, after a very brief climb from T1, is often thought to be quite simple. The section of the course is flat and designed for speed allowing for some very close racing, before the road kicks upwards, with the first 3 switchbacks being the steepest. The lightest or strongest bike rider are likely to find their biggest time gains here. I began to close in on the lead and set the pace with 20 hairpins to go.


By the time you hit T2, you’ll be 1800m above sea level, and the air is crazy thin. The 7km lap was, admittedly, so hard but it was a great burn, especially on the second lap. The atmosphere of this race is electric. It definitely needs to be put on your bucket list if you want a challenge for 2020!”


Zone3 triathlete Tim Don Alpe d'Huez Triathlon
Copyright: Robert Rathbone/220 Triathlon