Peaks Challenge vs Tour de France

Stage comparison

Peaks Challenge Falls Creek is regarded as one of the hardest one-day bike rides in Australia, but how does it stack up against a mountain stage of the 2022 Tour de France?

Tour de France: Stage 12 (Briançon to Alpe d’Huez)
  • Distance: 166km
  • Elevation: 4633m
  • Key climbs: Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer & Alpe d’Huez
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek: Sunday 12 March 2023
  • Distance: 235km
  • Elevation: 4441m
  • Key climbs: Tawonga Gap, Mount Hotham & back of Falls Creek

Stage 12 from Briançon to Alpe d’Huez is a 166km route, with riders accumulating more than 4000m of vert across the ride. Featuring three key climbs—Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez—the stats are not dissimilar to our own Peaks Challenge, but how closely do they resemble the three infamous climbs of Victoria’s high country?

Tawonga Gap vs Col du Galibier

Col du Galibier
8.60km 🚴 | 568m ⬆️ | avg. 6.7%

The route from Briancon to Col du Galibier is a combination of two climbs (Briancon to Col du Lautaret and Col du Lautaret to Col du Galibier) which combine for 23 kilometres of climbing at an average of 5.1%. The stats and Strava segment for the latter climb are outlined above.

Once the riders reach Col du Lautaret (24.6km into the stage), they’ll have 8.6km to the top of Col du Galibier, at an average gradient of 6.7%. A typical amateur rider would expect to make it to the top of this climb in a little under 50 minutes.

Strava KOM – 0:23:25 & QOM – 00:28:31

Tawonga Gap

7.5km 🚴 | 476m ⬆️ | avg. 6.3%

Tawonga Gap is the first climb of Peaks Challenge, and the smallest, but it should not be underestimated. Off the back of a long descent from Falls Creek to Mt Beauty this is the first serious effort required and many riders have been known to go too hard too early any pay for it later in the day.

The climb has a few tight hairpins, but generally maintains a consistent gradient throughout. The lanterne rouge (Peaks Challenge tail riders) allow 40 minutes to complete this climb.

Strava KOM – 0:18:21 & QOM – 00:23:02

Mount Hotham vs Col de la Croix de Fer

Col de la Croix de Fer

28.53km 🚴 | 1,706m ⬆️ | avg. 5.2%

Col de la Croix de Fer serves as the second intermediate climb of the day and (similarly to Hotham) can be broken up into sections to soften the overwhelming thought of a giant 29km slog uphill. The first half can be divided into two climbs (3.5km and 5.5km respectively) with a solid downhill after each section to rest the legs.

From the 15km mark the climb settles into a more consistent rhythm, with the last 6km maintaining an average gradient of 7.6% to the top. An average amateur rider would expect to complete the climb in under 2.5 hours.

Strava KOM – 1:12:21 & QOM – 01:43:12

Mount Hotham
29.9km 🚴 | 1,303m ⬆️ | avg. 4.2%

Mount Hotham is a long tough climb and an iconic ascent to tick off for any cyclist heading into Victoria’s high country.

Starting at the 75km mark of Peaks Challenge, the best way to pace yourself for the Hotham climb is to mentally divide it into thirds. Things ease a little in the “gentle” middle-third, but the climb is punctuated by two very steep sections. The first of these, the Meg, is a 300-metre stretch with a gradient of 11.8%. The second, CRB Hill, is a 700-metre stretch with gradients more than 10%. Closely following followed by Diamantina, the last and probably toughest part of the climb (1.4km at 9%). The lanterne rouge allow a touch over two hours to make it to the top.

Strava KOM – 1:07:42 & QOM – 01:20:58

Falls Creek vs Alpe d’Huez

Alpe d’Huez

13.09km 🚴 | 1,093m ⬆️ | avg. 8.4%

Alpe d’Huez (the most famous climb in the Tour) includes 21 gruelling switchbacks and is always a coveted win for the climbers. With an average gradient of 8.1%, the hardest ramp sits at 11.5% and kicks in with almost 4 kilometres to go. The pros will be making it to the top of the climb in under an hour, whereas the average amateur rider ascends in approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Strava KOM – 0:40:12 & QOM – 00:46:51

Falls Creek (East)

22.6km 🚴 | 980m ⬆️ | avg. 4.3% 

With the road from the Omeo Highway to the edge of Falls Creek at Windy Corner only being sealed in 2009, this climb was unknown before the inception of Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. However, the thousands of riders that have since tackled the climb will not forget it quickly.

With the first 8 kilometres averaging around 10% gradient, it has been known to push many a cyclist to their limit. Not to mention the fact, riders hit the bottom of the climb with 200kms already in the legs. As the final ascent of the event, this climb is steep and relentless, with little reprieve. The Lanterne Rouge will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to ascend the back of Falls Creek.

Strava KOM – 00:55:59 & QOM – 01:09:46

Final thoughts…

With 21 stages across three weeks, there’s no doubt that the Tour de France is a beast of an event.

However, when comparing a mountain stage side by side with Peaks Challenge, it’s not hard to see similarities with some of the most infamous climbs in Victoria’s high country.

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