As part of my project this Sunday to stay off the bike as long as possible I have decided to start a new series of articles, documenting the many famous mountain passes (cols in the languages of French and Cycling) that I, along with 20,000 or so others, will be hauling our carcasses over this July in the two Etapes du Tour.
Act One, which starts in the Olympic town of Albertville, wastes little time before starting the long climb up the Col de la Madeleine, elevation 1993 meters. According to Wiki, the climb we’ll be doing (from the north) is 28.3 km with an average gradient of 5%, but it is very irregular and has many long sections of 8%, 9% and 10%. This climb from the northern side is said to be more picturesque. You be the judge.
The pass has been used in the Tour de France since 1969 and has been crossed an amazing 23 times in those 43 years. The climb is classified hors-catégorie, which is the highest rating given. Here is Mr. Beefsteak, Alberto Contador, hauling Andy Schleck up the col a couple of years ago.