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Alpes vaudoises: Cycling in the home of the UCI

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16 Jul 2021
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Discover the stunning routes of Switzerland's Alpes vaudoises with Alain Rumpf   
In association with Alpes vaudoises

It's easy to see why the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) makes its home in the stunning Alpes vaudoises region of Switzerland. Easily accessible by public transport but still boasting well-paved roads largely free of traffic, this alpine landscape is a cyclist's dream.

The Alpes vaudoises loop begins and ends at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, taking in three mountain passes and incredible sights from the vineyards of the Chablais to the 3,000m-high glacier in Les Diablerets. It's a challenging but endlessly rewarding route and a must for any cycling fanatic.

At the same time, the great restaurants and hotels, beautiful villages and fountains running with spring water scattered along the loop mean you're rarely far from a place to stop and refresh.

The UCI World Cycling Centre and Velodrome makes a fitting starting point – and a convenient one thanks to its copious parking spots. The lush Rhone valley offers a few easy kilometres to get you warmed up before things kick up a gear as you begin the ascent to the first pass, the Col de la Croix.

Ascending 1,300m over a 23km stretch, this is one of the longest, toughest and most breathtaking stretches of road that Switzerland has to offer.

'There are more and more cyclists on the road here,' says Alain Rumpf, a local cycling guide and photographer. 'On Sunday in summer, you will see dozens of cyclists on the loop which creates a really nice atmosphere because you really feel part of a community.'

The climb to the Col de la Croix will take you through the picturesque village of Villars-sur-Ollon, well-known to cycling fans as the stage finish for the two Swiss legs of the UCI WorldTour – the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse.

'The Col de la Croix is a big climb,' says Rumpf. 'So a stop is welcome. There's this great little buvette – it's just a little hut at the top where they serve some snacks and drinks. The woman who works there, Francine, makes a fruit tart which is amazing. It's homemade, and this is the best thing you can find after a big climb. It's a really friendly atmosphere, and there are lots of cyclists and hikers. That's probably my favourite stopover.'

A descent of 8km brings you to the village and resort of Les Diablerets, perched beneath its glacier and the 1,546m-high Col du Pillon. Continuing the ascent, you will pass a station of the Glacier 3000 cable car, which offers visitors an unparalleled alpine panorama.

Col du Pillon marks the border of German-speaking Switzerland. A fun, dramatic descent takes you down into the world-famous resort of Gstaad before the route circles back into French-speaking Switzerland, on through the villages of Rougemont and Château-d’Oex and up towards the Col des Mosses. The Tour de France has crossed the pass five times, most recently in 2016.

The ascent to the Col des Mosses is broken up by a series of level stretches, on one of which nestles the village of L’Etivaz, home of the famous cheese of the same name. The pass reaches an altitude of 1,445m before beginning the long final descent back into Aigle.

The home stretch offers a view of the stunning Mediaeval Château d'Aigle. The route ends where you began, where you can explore the the UCI headquarters or unwind on the terrace at the Rhone river.

Book a four-day and three-night tour of the Alpes vaudoises now at alpes.ch