Professional cycling’s 35 fastest times ever up Alpe d’Huez

Posted on: July 19th, 2018

cycling fastest times Alpe d'Huez

Cycling’s fastest times on Alpe d’Huez: Pantani takes the Alpe d’Huez stage at the 1997 Tour de France after the fastest ever ascent.


Pro cycling’s 35 fastest times up Alpe d’Huez


Here’s a list that most riders would probably rather not be on, given the names that litter it.

It’s the riders who have record the 35 fastest ascents of Alpe d’Huez in the history of the Tour de France, based on the ascent being 14.454km for each rider.

The riders in the 2018 Tour de France face the climb today. And with Chris Froome in 2nd overall some 1:25 down on Team Sky team mate Geraint Thomas; might he let rip on the mountain?

Froome is one of the very few riders in this year’s Tour who could beat the times set in past eras. The Tour de France profile for today’s stage has the climb down as 13.8km.

There are slightly different definitions of where the climb starts. And because of that, the lists for cycling’s fastest times up Alpe d’Huez can vary a little.

However, the variation only affects the order of the riders way down the list. That’s because gaps of one or two seconds separate those riders. In some cases less than one second.

But the riders at the top, as well as the years they recorded their fastest times, don’t change from list to list.

The gaps at the top are bigger so defining the climb as being a few hundred metres longer or shorter doesn’t affect the order of the faster riders.

Of the 35 times, 24 were recorded by men we now know were drugs cheats, or who have been implicated in doping.

Pedro Delgado, technically did not break UCI rules with a contentious dope test in the 1988 Tour, which he won.

The substance found in his system was only included on the world governing body’s banned list in the weeks after the race.

Two infamous names dominate the top of the list; Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong.

The now deceased Pantani’s climb of the mountain in 1997 was the fast ever. It was even quicker that doped up Armstrong’s time trial ride up the feared climb in 2004.

Between them, Pantani and Armstrong recorded all of the fastest five times.

One’s eye has to travel all the way down to 14th place to find a time recorded by a man never touched by drugs-related controversy; Nairo Quintana.

The Colombian’s time of 39:22 in 2015 was just six seconds faster than the next quickest; Miguel Indurain in 1995.

The Spaniards’ time is the second fastest recorded by a rider whose record has not been ruined by positive tests or being embroiled in drugs allegations.

The 1997 Tour was the most doped year, with the top three riders on the stage all in the top 10 times ever. And all have been exposed as some of the biggest dopers in the history of pro cycling.

Pantani’s winning time of 37:35 was followed by Jan Ulrich – 2nd on the stage some 48 seconds down. And Richard Virenque was 3rd, 40 seconds back.

The times below in bold mark those riders who have tested positive, been banned or been deeply implicated in drug taking.


Cycling’s fastest times on Alpe d’Huez

1 37′ 35″ Marco Pantani 1997 Italy
2* 37′ 36″ Lance Armstrong 2004 United States
3 38′ 00″ Marco Pantani 1994 Italy
4 38′ 01″ Lance Armstrong 2001 United States
5 38′ 04″ Marco Pantani 1995 Italy
6 38′ 23″ Jan Ullrich 1997 Germany
7 38′ 34″ Floyd Landis 2006 United States
8 38′ 35″ Andreas Klöden 2006 Germany
9* 38′ 37″ Jan Ullrich 2004 Germany
10 39′ 02″ Richard Virenque 1997 France
11 39′ 06″ Iban Mayo 2003 Spain
12* 39′ 17″ Andreas Klöden 2004 Germany
13* 39′ 21″ Jose Azevedo 2004 Portugal
14 39′ 22″ Nairo Quintana 2015 Colombia
15 39′ 28″ Miguel Induráin 1995 Spain
16 39′ 28″ Alex Zülle 1995 Switzerland
17 39′ 30″ Bjarne Riis 1995 Denmark
18 39′ 31″ Carlos Sastre 2008 Spain
19 39′ 44″ Gianni Bugno 1991 Italy
20 39′ 45″ Miguel Induráin 1991 Spain
21 39′ 50″ Nairo Quintana 2013 Colombia
22 40′ 00″ Jan Ullrich 2001 Germany
23 40′ 46″ Fränk Schleck 2006 Luxembourg
24 40′ 51″ Alexander Vinokourov 2003 Kazakhstan
25 41′ 18″ Lance Armstrong 2003 United States
26 41′ 21″ Samuel Sánchez 2011 Spain
27 41′ 30″ Alberto Contador 2011 Spain
28 41′ 46″ Cadel Evans 2008 Australia
29 41′ 50″ Laurent Fignon 1989 France
30 41′ 50″ Luis Herrera 1987 Colombia
31 41′ 57″ Pierre Rolland 2011 France
32 42′ 15″ Pedro Delgado 1989 Spain*
33 42′ 18″ Thibaut Pinot 2015 France
34 43′ 12″ Ryder Hesjedal 2011 Canada
35 43′ 12″ Thomas Danielson 2011 United States

* Stage was TT.

  • Delgado tested positive for Probenecid in the 1988 Tour de France, which he won. However, while the substance was banned by the IOC at the time, it was not placed on the UCI banned substances list until August 1988, the month after the Tour. It meant he was no sanctioned as he was not in breach of UCI rules at the time.