Col du Tourmalet is one of the most revered climbs in cycling. The climb is the highest road pass in the Pyrénées and is an incredibly popular destination for cyclists from all over the world. Having first featured on the Tour De France in 1910, Col du Tourmalet has regularly appeared in the tour since, with over 80 appearances since.
When to ride the Col du Tourmalet
Like most rides in Europe, the best time to ride the Col du Tourmalet is in the summer months between June and late-September. Despite this, riders are advised to bring appropriate clothing as conditions can be cold even in the warmest months and conditions can be variable. If you are looking to ride the Col du Tourmalet at a quieter time, early June or late September are ideal times, as the peak season for this ride is in July.
Riding the Col du Tourmalet
Upon leaving Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the climb immediately starts with an 8% gradient incline. At this point, although the road is wide enough for cyclists, it is important to be aware of traffic in the area. Continuing for a further six kilometres, amidst tree-lined roads and with two hairpin bends mixed in, the Col du Tourmalet brings you in to the quaint village of Barèges – a good opportunity to stop for a break or a coffee.
From Barèges, riders have a choice as to which route to take. For a slightly easier ride, you can choose to take the D918 with a couple of switchbacks ahead. Alternatively, for those looking for a tougher ride, you can choose the Voie Laurent Fignon, a must-ride for Tour De France fans. With faded road markings from previous Tours, this part of the Col du Tourmalet provides an exhilarating experience on one of the most iconic climbs in the cycling world.
Re-joining the main road following either the D918 or Voie Laurent Fignon sections, 4km remain of the Col du Tourmalet and the end goal begins to come in to view. Between the last 4 and 2 kilometres of this climb the gradient eases up, before an intense final 2km to reach the summit, marked by the legendary Octave Lapize statue – well worth getting a picture with if you can!