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The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Hautacam

Written by Robyn Oppenheimer on 21st April, 2019

Climbing the Hautacam route takes you on a breathtaking ride through the lush rural countryside in the heart of the Pyrenees. 

The Location

The Hautacam is located in the Pyrenees and is named after a popular ski station.  The Tour de France was the event that literally put Hautacam on the map.

Why the Hautacam?

The Hautacam is famously remembered as the location for Lance Armstrong’s victory in the 2000 Tour de France, until he was later disqualified for doping.  Equally, the scandal of EPO doping by Bjarne Riis in 1996 has made the Hautacam notorious albeit for the wrong reasons.  However, the reason cyclists flock to the Hautacam is because it is a physically demanding and challenging narrow route.  It is perfect for those climbers who love the challenge of an irregular and unpredictable gradient, which culminates with breathtaking views of the Valley du Lavedan, Luz Ardiden and the Col du Soulor.

Cycling the Hautacam, The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Hautacam

The Stats

The ride starts at Argeles Gazost and is 14.5km to the Hautacam ski station.  The gradient averages 7.5% but it is irregular as it can reach 15%/16% for several long stretches.  After a slower 1.5km start through beautiful meadows, the route becomes incredibly tough.  Once you pass the village of Ayros, you will enter a pinch point for the Tour as the road narrows and you encounter the first steep climb and then a drop in gradient, a pattern that will continue as you head up the col.   If you are hoping to get into a steady rhythm – this irregular ride is not for you! As you head to the middle part of the route the gradients will get tougher and then ease off again before you head to the summit.  If you are not utterly exhausted by the end, you can continue up 1.3km to Col de Tramassel. From here you can ride some other epic climbs such as the Tourmalet, the Aubisque and Soulor. It’s climbing heaven. Ride this on our Pyrenees Cycling Holiday.

Cycling the Hautacam, The Greatest Cycling Climbs – Hautacam

Off the Bike

Our top tip is always bring waterproofs – this area can see rainfall even throughout the summer months.

Head to the little cafe at the Col de Tramassel if you are in need of some refreshments.

If your legs are weary and your body is aching, Argeles-Gazost is a pretty spa town where you can unwind with a massage or relax in a thermal bath.

Hautacam Ski Station

If you have been inspired to cycle the Hautacam, why not give our cycling specialists a call? Our specialists can help you build your perfect cycling holiday.  Whether you want to join a training camp, use an electric bike, or ride our GPX routes independently, we are able to tailor your trip to you.