• Charlie Paige

The Pyrenees: a home to beautiful beasts


"Vous êtes des assassins. Oui, des assassins"- Halfway up the Tourmalet


The Pyrenees: a place of beauty and charm but home to some of the most difficult and gruelling climbs in Europe. It also being the resting place of some of the titan climbs of the cycling world. From the Aspin to the Tourmalet, the names are sure to send shivers down the spines of any professional cyclist who has to race up these magnificent beasts. Whether you’re a sprinter just wanting to finish in the grupetto or a GC hotshot, it’s sure not going to be an easy run. Never mind those of us who are stupid enough to ride them for fun or for training.


The Pyrenees is not just a place of beauty or perhaps a place of challenge for some, but it is undoubtedly a cycling mecca, so rich in history that it is written into the landscape. It was over 110 years ago when the Tour de France first passed through the Pyrenees in 1910. Little did Henri Desgrange of L'Auto know that this stage would go down in history. Desgrange planned a brutal 326km route starting in Bagnères de Luchon and finishing in Bayonne. 6426m of climbing and four monster cols: the Peyresourde, the Aspin, the Tourmalet and the Aubisque. After hours and hours of racing, Octave Lapize (the race leader) began his ascent of the final climb. Finishing it on foot and being met by the race organisers at the top, Lapize exhausted and undoubtedly a little pissed off screamed at the organisers: "Vous êtes des assassins. Oui, des assassins". He continued to swear at the organisers and threatened to retire from the race. However, Lapize later took the win in Bayonne after over 14 hours of racing, he was then later crowned the overall winner. The day also led to the creation of the ‘Broom Wagon’, after many riders were too exhausted to finish. This stage would later be called "The Circle of Death" and would be defined as the hardest stage in the Pyrenees of a Tour de France. The Circle of Death then went on to produce some of the most iconic memories of Tour de France, with many a GC contender’s dreams crushed at the hands of these Pyrenean titans.

Bonny towns scattered throughout the mountains, Arreau.


But it's not all blood, sweat and cogs, the Pyrenees homes some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe, alongside bonny towns and countryside. The Pic du Midi de Bigorre in the heart of the Pyrenees is a sight of breathtaking views of the fellow mountains and Pyrenean valleys below. Scattered through these valleys you'll find peace and quiet, alongside the occasional Occitanie farmer and jingling cow bells. A place of beauty for any bike rider, be it Roglič reconning this year’s Tour or an amateur on holiday.


I recently spent a training camp in June in the small town of Bagnères de Bigorre, at the heart of the Pyrenees. Staying at AllezPyrenees, a truly delightful Gite that I have also stayed at on past visits to the Pyrenees, it offers the perfect Pyrenean experience for all riders, as well as comfy beds and the most amazing catering. Andy and Caroline of AllezPyrenees have also kindly offered a 10% discount to any Casquettes and Bidons readers for 2021 & 2022! Just follow the link below and get in touch with them to book your next trip!


http://www.allezpyrenees.com/


Now for the climbs themselves!


*PLEASE NOTE RATINGS ARE DONE COMPARATIVELY TO OTHER PYRENEAN OR FAMED CLIMBS, BOX HILL WOULDN’T EVEN BE IN THE SAME LEAGUE!


Col D’Aspin- Arreau & Campan

You haven’t completed the climb if you didn’t take a photo of the sign.


  • Location- Arreau (710m)

  • Distance- 12km

  • Average Gradient- 6.49%

  • Max Gradient- 9.5%

  • Height-1489m

  • KOM/QOM- Sébastien Reichenbach (29.50) / Hannah Rhodes (40.25)

  • Charlie’s climb rating- 8/10


  • Location- Sainte Marie de Campan (867m)

  • Distance- 12.59km

  • Average Gradient- 5.1%

  • Max Gradient- 8.3%

  • Height-1489m

  • KOM/QOM- Bruno Armirail (29.41) / Verita S (36.42)

  • Charlie’s climb rating- 7/10

The Col D’Aspin would be classed as one of the lighterweight climbs that the Pyrenees has to offer- but when sandwiched in the Circle of Death or another col- the true strength of the climb begins to show, as to ascend one side and descend the other would mean riders would have to climb another col, be it Hourquette or even the Tourmalet. The col can be ridden by two sides (Arreau & Saint Marie de Campan), offering two different climbing experiences. Of course, this leads to riders arguing over the ‘harder side’ and those more leisurely riders debating the ‘bonnier side’.


At the top, once stopped coughing your lungs up, you’ll be met with the famous Aspin cows which rest at the top in the summer months, that’s if you haven’t had to avoid them on the ascent up- or even the descend down. The jingling of cowbells with a view of the Arreau valley and on a clear day a view of the Pic du Midi, the top offers a place of tranquillity.

Peace and quiet at the top of the Col D’Aspin.


Col D’Aspin is also in the top three most visited cols in Tour history, making it a must for any rider in the Pyrenees. The last time the Tour de France went up the climb was back in 2018 on stage 19 (Lourdes- Laruns), before heading over the Tourmalet and Aubisque. Alaphilippe was the first man over the Aspin in polka dots, before Roglič took the stage win later in the day. My favourite memory of the Tour passing over the Col D’Aspin was in 2016 when on stage 7 Stephen Cummings soloed to victory in Payolle, just after ascending the Aspin which was the final climb of the stage.

Hourquette d’Ancizan- Campan & Ancizan

It’s not always blue skies!


● Location- Sainte-Marie-de-Campan (867m)

● Distance- 16.74km

● Average Gradient- 4.2%

● Max Gradient- 11%

● Height- 1564m

● KOM/QOM- Emmanuel Hollebeke (38.59) / Fat F (51.38)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 6/10


● Location- Ancizan (759m)

● Distance- 10.3km

● Average Gradient- 7.82%

● Max Gradient- 11.2%

● Height- 1564m

● KOM/QOM- Antoine D (33.20) / Fanny Leleu (41.30)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 8/10


The Hourquette d’Anzican is one of the more hidden climbs in the Pyrenees, almost overshadowed by its neighbour (Col D’Aspin), with both sides of the climb being tucked away from its neighbour and the more popular route of the Col D’Aspin. This gives the climb a more of an off-piste feeling as the road condition isn’t as smooth or wide as your heavyweight cols. Plus, it being a slight detour on the Ancizan side makes it perfect for anyone wanting to get off the beaten track, as long as you don’t mind smaller roads and slightly worse road conditions plus the occasional wandering cow!


The climb from Saint Marie De Campan begins on the same road as the Col D’Aspin, a gentil climb through the lower villages before hitting Lac de Payolle at which you fork off to begin the individual ascent of the Hourquette. A small, unmarked road takes you another 7km through a petit woodland to begin and then onto a stunning open view of the climb and the surrounding mountains.


The hidden gem of the Anzican side feels slightly off the beaten track with a rugged small road starting in Anzican, you wouldn’t guess it is a famous Pyrenean climb. At the bottom you’ll be greeted with a steep start through the village before entering the wooded section that covers most of the climb. Climbing up through the narrow road which at some points is almost carved into the rock face with the picturesque valley down below. But don’t be fooled by the beauty, the questionable road surface, alongside the tough 8% average with kicks of 12%, ensures the climb is a lot harder from Anzican.


This brutality was seen back in the last ascent of the climb in the 2019 Tour de France, when Adam Yates rode away from his breakaway compatriots with Austrian Gregor Mühlberger, before later being joined by Pello Bilbao. After the ascent of the Hourquette, the race descended into Bagnères de Bigorre where Yates took the win in a sprint against the remaining breakaway riders.

The view of the valley below Hourquette d’Ancizan.

Luz Ardiden

A dead-end finish at the top of Luz Ardiden, unless you’ve packed your CX bike!


● Location- Luz Saint Sauveur (710m)

● Distance- 14.7km

● Average Gradient- 6.87%

● Max Gradient- 10%

● Height- 1720m

● KOM/QOM- Andrew Feather (39.57) / Lucie C (49.16)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 7/10


Luz Ardiden is tucked away in the busy Luz Saint Sauveur Valley, making it a quieter and more uncommon climb that some riders may want to tackle. However, the unpopularity doesn’t make it an easy climb as it is a HC Categorised climb at just under 7% for a brutal 15km. The climb begins winding through the lower villages of Sazos and Grust, with some steeper sections of 10% in wooded areas. It’s then in the final 5km when riders are greeted by the famous snaking corners of Luz Ardiden, as the climb opens up onto a picturesque mountain side showing the valley below.


Not dissimilar to the Hautacam, the road leads to a ski station, so is a dead end making it an uncommon feature in the Tour de France and many a rider’s bucket list. However, the “cul de sac col” is certainly a must for any riders who are up for a challenge and don’t mind descending what they just came up. Or if you’ve packed your cx bike- perhaps even a mountain bike- then you can continue up another 857m to the top of Col de Cloze (2577m).


Luz Ardiden is also one of the less featured climbs of the Tour, with the last ascent coming in 2003- a shocking 18 years ago! This was when he-who-must-not-be-named famously crashed into a fan halfway up the climb, before jumping back on and of course riding to victory, securing his ‘5th’ Yellow jersey’. Luz Ardiden is more importantly on the menu for this year’s Tour, as it returns after 18 years. Stage 18 will include the Tourmalet and then a mountaintop finish on Luz Ardiden, the final stage in the Pyrenees before the flatlands to Paris. You can guarantee that there will be some fireworks this year on Luz Ardiden.

The famous switchbacks of Luz Ardiden. © Office De Tourisme Luz St Sauveur

Col de Peyresourde- Avajan

A pre-covid bike race? Where are all the masks? © France Bleu


● Location- Avajan (910m)

● Distance- 9.5km

● Average Gradient- 6.94%

● Max Gradient- 11%

● Height- 1569m

● KOM/QOM- Loic Bouchereau (29.32) / Dr Tamsin Lewis (36.05)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 7/10


The Peyresourde, like most paved cols, has two possible ascents and like many there tends to be a more popular side, whether that be for its infamous difficulty or preferred scenery. The more popular side for both the Tour de France and regular cyclists is the Bagnères de Luchon side, which is a 14km climb at just under 7%. However, it still remains on my unridden bucket list of Pyrenean climbs! The Bagnères de Luchon side of the climb was also on the menu in last year’s Tour, featuring on stage 8 as the final climb after Port de Bales, before descending to the finish in Loudenvielle. Nans Peters crowned himself the winner of the stage, dropping Ilnur Zakarin on the Port de Bales descent. We also witnessed the GC contenders allowing Pogačar off his leash, which would eventually end with him in Yellow come Paris.


The climb from Avajan is still a beautiful and challenging climb. Riders are met with a large smooth and gradual road perfect for climbing from the valley below. The climb is gradual all the way to the top, with only slight inclines at a maximum of 11%, however this is countered by the smooth tarmac and bonny views. On the occasions when I have ridden the climb, I’ve found the road surprisingly quiet considering the size of the road, this is down to a lot of the mountain traffic being diverted onto the bigger roads. This makes the climb from Avajan perfect for anyone who doesn’t feel ready to tackle one of the bigger beasts or someone who wants something lighter before tackling a Cat-1 (or even HC) the same day. The gentle sloping and not-too-long-a-climb, combined with the quietness, is perfect for this.


And of course, a treat for those who make it to the top is an extra incentive to climb the Col de Peyresourde. A tiny café at the summit- which is based out of a French family’s front room- is the perfect way to finish the climb! A big plate of crepes and maybe a small glass of cognac is perfect before the long descent…

12 crepes for €6.00! Now that’s an incentive to climb!

Hautacam

Another climb? Another photo of the sign!

● Location- Argeles Gazost (424m)

● Distance- 14.2km

● Average Gradient- 7.72%

● Max Gradient- 11%

● Height- 1520m

● KOM/QOM- Laurens ten Dam (39.16) / Roos de Jong (53.43)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 7/10


A warmup through the Argeles valley, along the cycle path or by the river, is undoubtedly needed before hitting the HC climb of the Hautacam. The climb is certainly one to be feared with an average gradient of nearly 8%, plus steeper sections through the lower villages of 11%. A tough sting to begin with, then gently winding through the lower villages of Arbouix and Artalens-Souin, followed by the hardest section of the climb from 8-11km, it climbs at just under 10%. The higher slopes of the climb begin to plateau slightly and the view of the Argeles valley below is revealed. Or nothing is revealed, as the open road is no shelter from the rain, wind and mist that the Hautacam can be home to.


This HC climb is another climb that is not heavily featured in the Tour, though with it’s tough middle gradients and open road finish it provides the perfect battleground for GC contenders. However, similarly to Luz Ardiden the climb finishes at a ski station, limiting its opportunities to feature in the Tour year in and year out as we see with other climbs. The locality of the climb limits its potential too, making it ideal as a dessert after riders have tackled the Tourmalet. This boxes it to feature on only the most brutal stages or perhaps even the Queen stage, which allows it to be untamed. The last feature we saw was back in 2014 on stage 18, which was the Queen stage of that Tour, plus the chosen route for Etape du Tour. Vincenzo Nibali (in Yellow) rode to his fourth stage victory and secured the Maillot Jaune before the final flat assault on Paris.

Nibali riding to his fourth stage win of the 2014 Tour de France and in doing so, securing the Yellow jersey. © Europe 1


Col de Portet (Including Pla d’Adet)

Those with a close eye will notice the Portet is exactly 100m higher than the Tourmalet, but is it tougher?

● Location- Saint Lary Soulan (810m)

● Distance- 17.8km

● Average Gradient- 7.89%

● Max Gradient- 10.2%

● Height- 2215m

● KOM/QOM- Steven Kruijswijk (50.26) / Arantxa GOBIK FACTORY (1.22.28)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 8/10


The new kid on the block, the Col du Portet, is a new Pyrenean titan and it is definitely here to stay. A climb that isn’t to be underestimated and possibly one of the only challengers to the Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. The climb begins on the Pla d’Adet with a brutal average percent of 10% from 2-5km, with the added factor of no shelter from the blistering sun. The climb then eases off slightly through the village of Soulon, but the average gradient never drops below 7% for the remaining 4km of the Plat d’Adet, before you turn off to tackle the Col du Portet after 9 unforgiving kilometres of the Plat d’Adet. Similarly to the Tourmalet from the Luz Saint Sauveur side, the Pla d’Adet features gruelling long straight stretches of unsheltered road.


As the road begins to flatten off, a right hander leads you off the Pla d’Adet and onto the Col du Portet which goes on for just over 8km. The road itself had been newly resurfaced, especially for the 2018 Tour de France and its debut appearance as a climb in a Grand Tour. Prior to which it was a rough gravel road and not rideable, however resurfacing is still questionable, adding to the excitement and challenge of the climb. The final 9 kilometres continue at gruelling averages with the only respite being from 13-14km into the climb, when the gradient drops to a more gentle average of 6.5%. This small and gruelling road is not all doom and gloom, the nature of the col limits the popularity meaning the only traffic you’ll see are other riders suffering or a herd of cattle.


As the climb continues for the final 3km it goes above 2000m, which is when altitude begins to come into effect, be it is an advantage or disadvantage for riders. Finishing at an impressive 2215m, which is exactly 100m higher than the Tourmalet and has the same elevation at the starting point, we witnessed the true difficulty of the climb back on stage 17 of the 2018 Tour when Nairo Quintana got his revenge after falling out of the GC race. The climb featured in the shortest stage in Tour history, just being 65km in length, but two Cat-1 climbs, and an HC climb ensured a tough day in the saddle, something which cannot be said for the lacklustre F1-style grid start. The Col du Portet will also feature in the 2021 Tour for the second time in its history. Riders will face the climb on stage 17 (178.4km) after the Col de Peyresourde & Col de Val Louron-Azet, the penultimate stage in the Pyrenees will sure be a show. With the Tourmalet featuring the following day, it will be interesting to see which climb the fireworks will well and truly kick off on.


As the question still remains: is the Col du Portet the new Tourmalet?

The revenge of Nairo on stage 17 of the 2018 Tour De France.

Col d’Aubisque- Laruns & Argeles Gazost

Many a sticker cover the sign at the top of the Aubisque.


● Location- Laruns (519m)

● Distance- 16.6km

● Average Gradient- 7.17%

● Max Gradient- 13%

● Height- 1709m

● KOM/QOM- Robert Gesink (48.00) / Tere barreira (1.07.29)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 7/10


● Location- Top of Col du Soulor (1474m)

● Distance- 9.65km

● Average Gradient- 2.4%

● Max Gradient- 11.5%

● Height- 1709m

● KOM/QOM- Steven Kruijswijk (17.32) / Morgane Riou (25.16)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 9/10


The Col d’Aubisque is one of the most famous climbs in the Pyrenees, not because it is the most difficult climb but for its individuality. It also being a common feature in the Tour de France, having made its debut back in 1910 and has been in many editions since. The more popular side of the climb begins just after the top of the Col du Soulor, after a short 2 kilometres downhill. The Aubisque then climbs for a further 7km at a shallow incline, with the steepest sections being towards the top with the final kilometre being the steepest part of the climb at a gentle 7%. However, you’ll definitely feel the sting after doing Soulor, which makes the climb nearly 30km in length. The assault of the climb from Laruns is a bit more of a challenge, even though it is a less popular choice. A tough 7% average for over 16km, the initial 4km to Eaux Bonnes being a gentle 5%, before the climb begins to kick up to 7% where it remains for the majority of the climb. With kilometres 8-9 being at a tough 10% and after remaining at above 8% until the final 600m.


The historic climb that features after Soulor may not be difficult but by God it’s a beauty. Passing along the cliffs of the Cirque du Litor, the road is carved out of the cliffs making it a part of the impressive landscape. On a clear day the Cirque du Litor is one of the most picturesque spots in the Pyrenees and a must for any rider. The road not only transverses the side of these breathtaking cliffs but also features two iconic narrow tunnels that are carved into the landscape. The climb from Laruns has a completely different feel. Climbing through woodland for the majority of the climb at tough percentages makes it a less impressive but a more difficult climb. The climb, unlike the Soulor side, features some gruelling hairpins which are sure to put a sting in the legs. The climb only opening up out of the forest in the final 3km which makes it a polar climbing experience to the historic Soulor side.

1969 Tour de France, Eddy Merckx takes on the iconic Aubisque tunnels with his chasing group 7 minutes behind. © Walter Vermeulen


We last saw the Tour tackle the Aubisque three years ago in 2018. Riders were faced with a brutal 200km stage which included the Col D’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, Col du Soulor and finally just to finish them off the Aubisque. This was not only one of the hardest stages of the 2018 Tour, but coming on stage 19, it was the penultimate challenge before the final time trial. The GC group, which featured Geraint Thomas in Yellow, caught Rafał Majka on the Aubisque before the descent finish into Laruns. On the descent we witness a brave all or nothing attack by Roglič, then going on to win the stage in Laruns and securing his second Grand Tour stage win and marking him as a possible future GC contender. Roglič also secured a spot on the podium and Geraint Thomas just had a time trial to tackle before heading to Paris in Yellow.

Yes! That is Hugh Carthy’s bike to the left.

Col du Soulor- Ferrières & Argeles Gazost

The Col du Soulor: the usual entrée before the Aubisque.


● Location- Ferrières (574m)

● Distance- 12km

● Average Gradient- 7.5%

● Max Gradient- 9%

● Height- 1474m

● KOM/QOM- Warren Barguil (34.19) / Deirdre Cole (41.12)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 8/10


● Location- Argeles Gazost (424m)

● Distance- 19.4km

● Average Gradient- 5.25%

● Max Gradient- 11%

● Height- 1474m

● KOM/QOM- Mikel Bizkarra (48.53) / Verita Stewart (1.00.06)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 8/10


Many riders are familiar with the Col du Soulor with it being one of the most famous climbs in the Pyrenees and its heavy usage in countless Tour de France stages, with its debut coming back in 1912. The climb is the usual entrée before the Aubisque and on some occasions has not been classified as a GPM, but in fact the top of the Aubisque being the official GPM. However, depending on which way you are riding, it is still possible to ascend and descend both the North and East side of Soulor.


From the east the climb begins in the bonny valley town of Argeles Gazost, weaving through the lower villages at a gentle gradient with some parts at a 0% incline. The climb officially becomes signposted at Arrens Marsous at 7km to go, where the percentages begin to kick up and the true difficulty is revealed. From the first signpost the climb remains at a minimum average percent of 7.5% with some harder sections of just under 10%. The climb weaves up the mountain side on super smooth tarmac with a lot of corners it makes for a stunning ride up to the top of the Soulor. The climb from Ferrières has a similar feel to the Hourquette, climbing through quiet tranquil villages on a small road in thick woodland, giving it a different climbing experience and being slightly off the beaten track to the other more popular climbs in the Pyrenees. The climb begins in the village of Ferrières however it climbs at very shallow percentages through the river valley and lower woodlands, making it ideal for any rider who wants some peace and quiet. In Ferrières the climb kicks up at some tough percentages, but the untouched landscape of the Pyrenean forests adds to the beauty of the climb from the north.

Tranquillity of the Soulor from Ferrières.


The Tour has tackled both the North side and the East side of the Soulor on several occasions. The last ascent was back in the 2019 on stage 14, which climbed the North side from Ferrières. The Soulor featured in the 117km stage as a warmup before the Tourmalet finish. Tim Wellens was the first over the top of the Cat-1, donning the polka dot Jersey, before Thibaut Pinot showed us his true masterclass by attacking all the GC favourites on the Tourmalet to ride to victory, giving the French hope of a GC victory only for it to crumble later on. The climb was ascended from the East side back in 2018 where it then went over the Aubisque and we saw Roglič ride to victory. However, the climb was not considered as a GPM, due to the race then climbing the Aubisque which is only 7km in length.

Col du Tourmalet- Luz Saint Sauveur & Campan

A photo that needs no caption to cyclists.


● Location- Luz Saint Sauveur (811m)

● Length: 19.00 km

● Average Gradient- 7.39%

● Max Gradient- 10.2%

● Height- 2115m

● KOM/QOM- Thibaut Pinot (51.13) / FAT Femelle (1.15.34)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 10/10


● Location- Sainte Marie de Campan (867m)

● Distance- 17.2km

● Average Gradient- 7.37%

● Max Gradient- 10%

● Height- 2115m

● KOM/QOM- David Gaudu (50.47) / Emma Pooley (1.03.15)

● Charlie’s climb rating- 9/10


The climb that needs no introduction, the Creme de la Crème of Pyrenean climbs and the one that should be on every rider’s bucket list to ride. The climb is so rich in cycling history all the way back to its first ascent in the Tour de France back in 1910 (111 years ago) when the race first came to the Pyrenees. The climb is not only impressive for its history, but also for its difficulty plus the beauty of the Pic du Midi and the surrounding area. With the names of cycling legends scribed on the road of the col it truly makes the Tourmalet the heart of the cycling mecca that the Pyrenees is. There’s no easy side to the Tourmalet both the west and east side are a challenge to say the least, making it ideal for any rider wanting to truly challenge themselves.


The ascent from the east begins in Sainte Marie de Campan. The first 4 kilometres of the 17km climb are at a max average gradient of 4%, making the entry into the climb very gentil. At Cabadur the climb begins to rise, when at 12km to go the climb kicks up to an 8% average where it remains for most of the climb. The following kilometres up to l’Adour remain at grippy percentages through the lower pine forests of the mountainside. It begins to kick up after a sharp hairpin 9km into the climb, from there the following kilometres up to La Mongie are at a brutal average of 9-10%. When reaching La Mongie the impressive mountainside of the Pic Du Midi is revealed. With less than 5km to go after La Mongie, the steep percentages continue to weave up the mountainside and are sure to make riders suffer.

The view is well worth the hour plus of climbing!


The ascent from Luz Saint Sauveur in my opinion is the harder side of the Tourmalet being slightly longer in length, plus at a slight steeper incline. However, what makes the climb more difficult is the road’s openness to the elements and the constant view of the summit for the majority of the climb. The first 3km of the climb are at a gentle 5% before the climb kicks up to just below 8% when passing through the village of Viella. The climb then remains at above 7% with a slight easing at 10km to go when it levels off at 5%, this is when you reach the first ski lift at Tratet. It is around this point when the climb opens up and the top of the Tourmalet becomes properly visible to the riders. The climb then weaves up the mountainside for a further 8km at a harsh average of above 8%. The most brutal bit of the climb is in the final 1.5km when the road skirts the rockface of the mountain and climbs at above 11%.


As we know, the Tourmalet isn’t only famous for its difficulty and beauty, but also the rich cycling history. The first ascent of the climb was back in 1910 when it featured in the brutal stage that would later be named “The Circle of death”. 111 years later the Tourmalet is still the most climbed col in the Tour with 87 passes since its debut, as well as featuring several times in the Vuelta. The last ascent of the climb was back in 2019 on stage 14 which finished on the Tourmalet. We witnessed Thibaut Pinot smash his GC opponents in the first mountaintop finish of that year’s Tour, only to be disappointed later when he was forced to abandon the race. The climb will also feature on this year’s Tour on stage 18 as the final day in the mountains before the flatlands to Paris. The climb will be ascended from Sainte Marie de Campan and riders will have to tackle Luz Ardiden after. It is sure to be a spectacle and we are certainly hoping for some long-range attacks before Luz Ardiden in the final battle for GC.

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