In 2006, sixty six Dutch cyclists came together to create the first Alpe d’Huzes event, were each rider attempted to climb the famous21 hairpins between Le Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez six times in a day. The name Alpe d’HuZes derives form a combination of the Dutch word for 6 and the name of the climb. The first event was held the 6th day of the 6th month 2006. Although subsequent year dates have altered slightly and additional events on other days have been added, the main event generally falls on a Thursday in early June.
The aim of the event is to raise money for cancer research where 100% of proceeds go directly to charity made possible by an army of volunteers and with running cost borne by the competitors. Thanks to the success of the event and with over 100 million euro raised since 2016, organisers have created close ties with the foundation ‘Inspire2live’ with the aim of funding specific organisations researching into cancer cures and care for patients. In 2012 the event had grown to a point where 8000 cyclists took part in events over spread over 2 days and helped raise the staggering amount of over 32 million euros.
In August 2013, Dutch media reported that Alpe d’Huzes founder Coen van Veenendaal had claimed more than €200,000 for work he did in 2010 and 2011 for the foundation Inspire2Live, which has close links to Alpe d’HuZes. These revelations have caused a controversy in the Netherlands for this so call zero cost event. The board for the foundation for Inspitre2Live are now reviewing the information and are committed to clearing up the name of what is a fantastically successful and inspiring event.
Regrettably the controversy appears to have contributed to a reduction in the numbers of competitors signing up for the event. Dutch media report that by early November just some 4,000 cyclists had registered to take part in the 2014 event, compared to 8,000 in 2013, in this typically over subscribed event.
In a statement on the www.opgevenisgeenoptie.nl. website, organizers say that “This year, the reality is different. With the economic crisis, people have less to spend, companies (major sponsors) are experiencing hard times and a large number of people are disappointed in Alpe d’HuZes because of the commotion in August”.
As a result, the Alpe d’Huzes organization’s website have revelled that despite running a two day event in recent years, the Alpe d’Huzes will return to a single day (June 5) in 2014 as the number of riders signing up for the event has dropped.
However with this in mind it should be noted that the event still raises a considerable amount of money for the fight against cancer and this unfortunate episode should not be allowed to tarnish all the fantastic efforts and sacrifices people have made to grow such an inspiring event.
As a resident living close to Alpe d’Huez it is an inspiration to see the effort put in by such large numbers of cyclist and volunteers, many of whom have clearly been affected in one way or another by this terrible disease.
A filmmaker friend of my Daniel Cox made a short movie about the event that reflects some of the emotion that is shared during the event. Alpe d’HuZes 2013
The reality of the popularity of the event is that bike friendly accommodation in and around the town of Le Bourg d’Oisans books up very early and is often hard to find in this relatively small town. Often it is necessary to look just that little bit further afield than Le Bourg d’Oisans. La Danchere Lodge provides a calming sanctuary to base a Alpe d’HuZes cycling team from. Located just 15 minutes from Le Bourg d’Oisans and at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park, the lodge has 11 bedrooms with space for up to 28 cyclists. The welcoming owners provide fantastic catering in their large dinning room over looking both Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez. The beautiful old stone building is set in stunning gardens with large lawns, impressive flower beds, with its own public bar.
For more information on this property or others in the area contact www.bikelodging.com.