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TACKLING THE TOUR’S MYTHICAL MOUNTAINS

From the gorgeous ski resorts of the French Alps to the dizzying heights of the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, France is littered with some of the most iconic climbs in cycling folklore. The battles fought on the country’s highest peaks for the Maillot Jaune have captivated audiences for over a century and elevated the now famed climbs to mythical status amongst cycling enthusiasts. From never-ending hairpin bends to cruel gradients amongst moon-like landscapes, here is a guided tour of some of our favourite climbs of le Tour de France.

I. ALPE D’HUEZ

If there ever was a climb that needed no introduction, then speak no further. The Alpe d’Huez has been featured in the tour regularly since 1952 with its infamous 21 hairpins often providing a final battleground for the Maillot Jaune. The climb starts at Le Bourg d’Oisans in the Romanche valley and winds its way for 13.8 kilometres at an average gradient of 8.1% and a maximum gradient of 13% to the ski resort station at the top.

Strava segment: Alpe d’Huez

The road can be punishing, especially to those unprepared for what the steep pitches of the hairpins throw at them that’s why we recommend dressing appropriately. Find some of our suggestions below:

WHAT TO WEAR

PAS NORMAL STUDIOS SOLITUDE MESH JERSEY BLACK

VERTEX LONDON TEAM SOCK / REFLECTIVE + GLOW IN THE DARK

PAS NORMAL STUDIOS SOLITUDE MESH BIB BLACK

II. MONT VENTOUX   

Known to many as the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux is located in the Provence region of southern France peaking at an elevation of 1912 metres above sea level. It has been a mainstay of le Tour since 1951, most notably taking the life of British cyclist Tom Simpson in 1967 due to heat exhaustion.

The climb takes its rightful place amongst the most iconic climbs of the Tour not only due to its length of 21 kilometres at an average gradient of 7.4% but the moon-like barren landscape of the summit lays itself open to gusty winds blowing at 90+ km/h for 240 days a year.

Strava segment: Mont Ventoux

The time taken to climb this beast, over an hour for the very best professionals, mean that dressing appropriately for not only what the elements may throw at you on the way up, but also the way down is an absolute necessity. Here are some of our suggestions for your attempt at conquering this iconic climb:


WHAT TO WEAR

KATUSHA ICON BIB SHORTS – PEACOAT WHITE

ATTAQUER RACE SADDLE BAG

KATUSHA WIND VEST – BLACK

III. COL DE LA COLOMBIÈRE

Featured in this year’s Tour de France on stage 10, the Col de la Colombière is 16.3 kilometres of pain, topping out at 1,618 metres above sea level at an average gradient of 6.8% when climbed from the Scionzier side. Situated in the Alps between Cluses and Le Grand-Bornand it certainly isn’t one of the highest peaks covered by le Tour, though it has gained notoriety over the years due to the brutal final 3 kilometres tackled at an average gradient of close to 11%.

Strava segment (note there are 3 possible directions to start this climb): Col de la Colombière

Prepare yourself for the challenge awaiting with these wardrobe suggestions found on the Emporium:


WHAT TO WEAR

MAAP AETHER PRO AIR JERSEY

PAS NORMAL STUDIOS BASE LAYER WHITE

KATUSHA ICON GLOVES – PEACOAT BLACK

IV. COL DU GALIBIER
If a fear of heights ranks highly atop your list of fears then the next iconic climb of le Tour may not be for you. Often featuring as the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange’ signifying the highest point of the Tour covered in that year’s race, the Col du Galibier is an absolute monster of a climb with the mountain pass reaching 2,645 metres above sea level.
The oxygen-thin air won’t be the only reason you’re gasping for air while taking on the ninth highest paved road in the Alps. The road is a lung-busting 34.8 kilometres long at an average gradient of 6.1% when ridden from the North, starting at Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and includes the arduous Col du Télégraphe. For those that take the Southern side, the Col du Lautaret must be conquered first before a final 8.5 kilometre slog to the top at an average gradient of 6.9% and a lactate piercing max of 12.1% at the summit.
Strava segment: Col du Galibier

If science has taught us anything it’s that what goes up, must come down so preparing yourself for a long and potentially cold descent is critical when heading out on the road to Galibier.

WHAT TO WEAR

PEDLA THE WILDS / BASE LAYER – NAVY

ABLOC ARRIVE L BIDON / STEALTH BLACK

ATTAQUER A-LINE JERSEY TITANIUM

V. HAUTACAM

Last though certainly not least is the punishing climb to Hautacam in the Pyrenees. Starting from Argelès-Gazost in Southwestern France, the road winds it’s way towards the heavens for 17.3 kilometres at an average gradient of 6.8% upon reaching the ski resort situated at 1,635 metres above sea level. The climb most recently crowned a new king during the tour in 2014 when Vincenzo Nibali won stage 18 finishing here on his way to sealing overall victory.

Many may remember this climb from the 2000 Tour de France when he who shall not be named put all his rivals to the sword in appalling conditions as he danced his way up the climb solo through a passing storm.

Strava segment: Hautacam

The Pyrenees are known for warmer climbing conditions than other mountain ranges through the summertime, here are a few suggestions to ensure you beat the heat on your way to the peak:

 

WHAT TO WEAR

ENDLESS INDÓMITO MESH JERSEY

SOCKELOEN CYCLING SOCKS LUCKY SOCKS WHITE – SILVER

MAAP SHIELD JACKET