I’ve been remiss again and haven’t talked about our big local Tour de France news. Next year the peloton will finally have a summit finish in the Cévennes (they usually just fly through it on their way to somewhere else). Our departement of Gard has apparently been lobbying ASO to show some more respect and, after Nîmes and Pont du Gard this year, they are coming back.
Mont Aigoual, the 2nd highest peak (it’s more of a pointy plateau actually) in the Cevennes (1567m), is a watershed mountain that sees it’s precipitation on one side going to the Mediterranean and the rest going far, far away, to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a very rainy place – the wettest in France – but on a clear day you can apparently see the Alps, Pyrenees and even as far north as Mont Blanc. You can definitely see Ventoux, which is only 100 km or so away.
There are many, many roads that climb Aigoual, and I’d say I’ve climbed nearly all of them. It’s a really wonderful area of high limestone plateaux, lost villages and plenty of excellent views. The pros are taking a route from the southern flank, which happens to be the toughest. Locals call it the ‘Petit Ventoux’. Here’s why:
Yes, that’s a 34 km climb. Well, it’s really the middle section that is of any concern, and possibly why this stage is labeled ‘hilly’ on the TDF site instead of ‘mountainous’. Still, that latter section of the Lucette is rude, I can tell you.
Finally, Mt. Aigoual is famous in some circles as being the main objective of the fictitious race of The Rider, the route of which I rode with a journalist from the UK a few years ago (Trevor Ward) that ended up as this article in Cyclist magazine. If you have never read The Rider, and you are a committed cyclist, you are really missing something.
I’ll be heading back to climb Aigoual in the spring and will do the TDF route. I’ll make sure and report back on how ‘hilly’ it felt.