Thinking of tackling some iconic climbs this year? Then look no further than France. Here are our 4 favourite climbs and how you can tackle them this summer.
4. Col d’izoard
A climb steeped in history. A climb that in between breaths, you can feel the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. Long before pro cycling was the slick machine that it is today, the Izoard staged some almighty battles, especially during the 50’s.
It was a battleground for 2 greats, Fasuto Coppi vs Louison Bobet. Frenchman vs Italian, French cycling vs Italian cycling on a snowcapped stage that hosted both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Today, both riders’ faces are immortalised in the barren rock as you pass through La Casse Deserte.
Perhaps not the toughest of climbs, perhaps not the climb that immediately springs to mind in the Alps, but certainly a climb that rewards you with unparalleled history and the most awe inspiring vista from its summit.
The Izoard features in this year’s Etape du Tour and we will be there. To join us and take one of our last remaining spaces, click here.
3. Alpe d’Huez
21 bends. Is there a more famous expression than that amongst Alpine climbing? As you ride through Bourg d’Oissans before the left hand turn, cavernous rock has been scarred by those 21 bends snaking their way up the Alpe’s slopes.
This is the Wembley Stadium of climbing. Want to ride an Alpine classic? Then look no further than Alpe d’huez.
As you climb the Alpe, it’s impossible not to let your mind drift to a sea of spectators spilling on to the road making the climb single lane only; imagining roaring crowds as you make your way round Dutch Corner and finally up to the ski station.
2. Col du Tourmalet
For TdF aficionados, this must be the Mecca. Simply put, this Pyrenean giant is the most used climb in Tour de France history. Who can forget Contador’s attack on Andy Schleck through the mist followed by Schleck’s look at his rival as he reeled him in.
Our preferred climb is Luz via Bareges. 19km at 7.5%, unrelenting climbing and often unpredictable weather. Our training camps in June 2010 saw fierce winds whereas the Etape du Tour a month later, was a balmy 23 degrees! The most epic part of the climb is 4km from the top. Past the snack shop and ski station, oxygen levels plummet and it’s time to hold on, push through and find your way to the top.
To ride the Tourmalet a well as a host of other cols such as the Soulor and Aubisque, click here.
1. Mont Ventoux
The mountain, the myth, the legend. Ventoux stands on its own amongst cyclists, much as it towers over the Provencal landscape. The Geant is the bucket list climb. It’s watching cricket at the MCG, it’s watching rugby at Twickenham, it’s football at er, White Hart Lane (allegiances never die!).
This climb has featured the improbable - Froome sprinting his way up, the controversial - Armstrong powering his way to the top and the absolute tragic - Tom Simpson losing his life on the climb.
Pass through the forest, left hand turn at Chalet Reynard and out on to the lunar landscape stretching above you all the way to the weather station. Will you be facing scorching sun or the buffeting Mistral? Either way, if you make it to the top, you’ve conquered Ventoux.
To climb Ventoux and experience the beauty of Provence, click here.