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21 HC climbs the Tour should (re)visit

Sep 29, 2012
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We are at 21 days from the start of the 100th Tour de France. It's a legendary race, but in recent history, people tend to say the Tour is staying on its classics, not trying to find new climbs and always serving the same climbs year after year.

Well, it's not completely true, but it has its part of veracity: we can definitely note some welcoming additions each year. Like La Planche des Belles Filles and the Col du Grand Colombier in 2012, and in 2013, a new climb will join the prestigious Hors Catégorie list: the Semnoz. However, we need to note that it's not a never-seen-before climb. The Semnoz has been climbed in 1998 (under its other name, Crêt de Chatillon), but it was placed in the beginning of a stage... Which was subsequently neutralized by the riders following the police raid towards the TVM team.

Some months ago, the Velowire.com community started to build a dossier featuring over 150 climbs that the Tour de France could (and definitely should) ride in the next future years, to avoid the usual "they use the same climbs every year" statement.

So starting from today, and each day until the start of this 100th Tour de France, I'll present here a climb, which would be rated HC by today's standards, that has:
- Never been ridden by the Tour de France
- Been ridden by the Tour, but long ago (at least 20 years)
- Another side of a known climb.

Here's the list:
#1: Col du Coq (Isère) - The hidden Alpe d'Huez twin brother
#2: Col de la Lusette (Gard) - The successor to the Puy de Dôme
#3: Mont du Chat (Savoie) - The French Mortirolo
#4: Col du Granon (Hautes-Alpes) - The nightmare of Hinault
#5: Signal de Bisanne (Savoie) - The taller brother of Saisies
#6: Col de la Pierre Carrée (Haute-Savoie) - The asymmetric climb
#7: Superbagnères (Haute-Garonne) - The superignored
#8: Grand Ballon (Haut-Rhin) - The toughest, highest vosgian climb
#9: Col de la Pierre-Saint-Martin (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) - The gate of Pays Basque
#10: Col de la Couillole (Alpes-Maritimes) - The Mercantour lost treasure
#11: Col de la Cayolle (Alpes-Maritimes) - The one between two legends
#12: Col de Turini (Alpes-Maritimes) - The French Stelvio
#13: Col de l'Arpettaz (Savoie) - The hidden loop
#14: Mont Ventoux from Malaucène (Vaucluse) - The eternal descent
#15: Plateau des Saix (Haute-Savoie) - The Joux-Plane neighbor
#16: Col du Mont Noir (Isère) - The Vercors' magic square
#17: Col du Grand Colombier - other sides (Ain) - The redemption of a forgotten climb
#18: Val Pelouse (Isère) - The ghost station
#19: Plateau de Solaison (Haute-Savoie) - The Bornes' secret
#20: Col du Parpaillon (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence/Hautes-Alpes) - The time-travelling climb
#21: Pic Maïdo (Réunion) - The far, far away dream


So let's start with the first climb!

#1: Col du Coq (Isère)
The hidden Alpe d'Huez twin brother
panneau_coq.jpg

Somewhere in the Chartreuse mountains, just mere miles at the north-east of the city of Grenoble, lies a pass that some people know in the region. It didn't had his glory time, but it's nonetheless very demanding. The Col du Coq (literally Rooster Pass) is a grueling climb, but the Tour ignored it for 26 years.

The Tour de France went through it two times, in 1984 and 1987. And it was part of two stages that were ending at the same point: the mythical climb of l'Alpe d'Huez, and its legendary 21 hairpin turns. But when looking back at the Col du Coq, it presents some similarities to the Alpe d'Huez climb that only a sharp eye can notice.

First of all, it also has 21 hairpin turns. Of course, some of these might not really be considered as hairpins, but well, this is kinda troubling. Secondly, its profile, the climb itself, is also very similar to l'Alpe. Let's look at it.

Top: 1434 m
Length: 12.8 km
Ascent: 1087 m
Average gradient: 8.5 %
Climbbybike Difficulty score: 126
coq1.gif

This climb is definitely harsh and grueling. The easiest part is after km 4, with a 6.3% average, before coming back to a nearly 9% average gradient. After passing it, we enter in the heart of the Chartreuse mountains, and the Dent de Crolles, a 2062 meter-high peak, is watching from the skies.

But the biggest curiosity is if you compare this climb to l'Alpe d'Huez, you can notice they are practically the same. Roughly the same length, same level of steepness, same difficulty, same number of hairpin turns... The Col du Coq is practically a hidden twin. If in 1984 and 1987, this climb was a 1st category, if it was ridden today, it would definitely be an HC climb (considering Semnoz is 2 km shorter, with the same average gradient, and is actually HC). With several ramps above 10-12%, and without many flat parts, the col du Coq is definitely a pass the Tour de France should reconsider climbing in the future years. This obviously would be one of the lowest HC climbs, but the length and the steepness definitely put it as the hardest climb in the Chartreuse mountains, even harder than the Col du Granier from Chapareillan (10.5 km @ 8.1 %).
coq_lacets.jpg


Col_du_Coq_8690.jpg
 
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Aug 13, 2009
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Linkinito said:
in 2013, a new climb will join the prestigious Hors Catégorie list: the Semnoz. However, we need to note that it's not a never-seen-before climb. The Semnoz has been climbed in 1998 (under its other name, Crêt de Chatillon), but it was placed in the beginning of a stage... Which was subsequently neutralized by the riders following the police raid towards the TVM team.

This is a great climb, I ride it often

In 98 I think they went from Annecy, but this year they come from the backside right?
 
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Race Radio said:
This is a great climb, I ride it often

In 98 I think they went from Annecy, but this year they come from the backside right?
Yep, they climbed it from Annecy (17 km @ 7 %), this year they'll climb it from Quintal (10.7 km @ 8.5 %). And interesting fact, in 1998, it was 1C, this year, it's HC. The HC classification tends to be more awarded these years (as an example, the Col du Glandon from the south always been a 1C climb, but this year it's HC).
 
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Linkinito said:
Yep, they climbed it from Annecy (17 km @ 7 %), this year they'll climb it from Quintal (10.7 km @ 8.5 %). And interesting fact, in 1998, it was 1C, this year, it's HC. The HC classification tends to be more awarded these years (as an example, the Col du Glandon from the south always been a 1C climb, but this year it's HC).

A climbs position in the race is an important element to it's rating. If it is a the finish of the race then usually it is a HC.

The Glandon was a 1C? I did not know that, hard climb
 
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Race Radio said:
A climbs position in the race is an important element to it's rating. If it is a the finish of the race then usually it is a HC.

The Glandon was a 1C? I did not know that, hard climb
La Toussuire (18 km @ 6 %) is a MTF but it's still a 1C. I'd say it's the hardest 1C alongside Port d'Envalira (35 km @ 4.8 %) and Col de Menté (9.3 km @ 9.1 %).
Glandon south side has been 1C (until this year), but from the north, it has always been HC.
If you look at the profiles:
Glandon south (21.9 km @ 5.2 % - not counting the first 3 km)
45.gif

Glandon north (21.3 km @ 6.9 %)
44.gif

There's a clear difference, and explains the difference. However, it's interesting to note that the Col de la Croix de Fer was HC even if climbed from Glandon south side (because it's 3 km longer and 150 m higher).
 

Gugashwill

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Maybe ASO avoids this first climb because of its name;)
Seriously, great thread. I'm looking forward to the rest.
Actually, I'm thinking about using it like a guide for my vacation.
 
As long as the list has Arnostegi, Errozate, Pierre Carrée and Lusette I can go home happy, though there are many that would likely only be 1C that ought to be mentioned, like the Col du Pré de la Dame, Mas de l'Ayre, Col de Finiels, Pic de Nore, Col du Pendu, Croix de Bauzon, Pas du Loup, etc...

I once thought about trying to do a TDF with no Alps or Pyrenées for the Race Design Thread, but that's on the backburner for a while.
 
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Libertine Seguros said:
As long as the list has Arnostegi, Errozate, Pierre Carrée and Lusette I can go home happy, though there are many that would likely only be 1C that ought to be mentioned, like the Col du Pré de la Dame, Mas de l'Ayre, Col de Finiels, Pic de Nore, Col du Pendu, Croix de Bauzon, Pas du Loup, etc...

I once thought about trying to do a TDF with no Alps or Pyrenées for the Race Design Thread, but that's on the backburner for a while.
I can't reveal anything about the list, but all I can say it's still not final, and you got at least one. Some climbs can go in and out, and I'm still undecided if I keep unpaved climbs or not. I mean, there's much more than 21 climbs that could be part of the HC-list.

Of course there's tons of 1C that the Tour can still discover and we've definitely included them in the ASO Project we've built for months. But I've just decided to focus on HC climbs for this thread.

Doing a Tour without Alps or Pyrénées seems to be very tricky, but :
A Corsica start + Cévennes 1st weekend + Some Massif Central in 2nd week ending with Jura mountains and doing the third week with some Vosges and pavés, would do it nicely. The main problem is, of course, altitude. You can't go up 1500-1600 m by not going through Alps or Pyrénées.
 
I think I was thinking more along the lines of Brétagne start and heading south via Massif Central to Cévennes, then Corsica, then Jura and Vosges, or vice versa with a northern start to Vosges, Jura, eastern edge of Massif Central (then the arguments over whether Ventoux should be allowed), then Corsica, then Cévennes. If Puy de Dôme were plausible it would be the logical final MTF from this side, as it would be hard to have any kind of climactic final MTF in the Cévennes when Lusette is likely the hardest climb, I fear.

Altitude-wise, there's Grand Colombier and Ventoux, if that counts, I guess. There's also the Pas de Peyrol, too, of course, though I couldn't really see ASO selling that as the big climactic MTF!!!

I could also probably design 100 brutal stages in Iparralde and the rest of the West Pyrenées...
 
Linkinito said:
I can't reveal anything about the list, but all I can say it's still not final, and you got at least one. Some climbs can go in and out, and I'm still undecided if I keep unpaved climbs or not. I mean, there's much more than 21 climbs that could be part of the HC-list.

Of course there's tons of 1C that the Tour can still discover and we've definitely included them in the ASO Project we've built for months. But I've just decided to focus on HC climbs for this thread.

Doing a Tour without Alps or Pyrénées seems to be very tricky, but :
A Corsica start + Cévennes 1st weekend + Some Massif Central in 2nd week ending with Jura mountains and doing the third week with some Vosges and pavés, would do it nicely. The main problem is, of course, altitude. You can't go up 1500-1600 m by not going through Alps or Pyrénées.

Have ASO responded?
 
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Netserk said:
A shame Val Thorans doesn't count :( ('only' 19 years ago...)
Considered it. :) But the fact is MTF on stations are highly dependent of the will of these stations to be in the Tour de France. That's why I only kept one, and it's not Val Thorens. It's not like passes which can be taken without needing a candidature.
 
Great idea. I'm looking forward to the next climbs. :)

Col du Coq would be great to see included. Could link it up with Col de la Porte and then summit finish on Col de la Charmette! :D Although I don't think there's enough room to have a finish up there.
 
Oh ok Val Thorens was on my list.

Plenty of obvious stuff...

Granon
Iseran - last climbed in full from the north 20 years ago, from the south..?
Bonette - east in 2008, west..?
Mont du Chat
Bisanne
Allevard/Super Collet
Val Pelouse
Sarenne - the other sides
Grand Colombier - the other sides
Ventoux - Malaucene

PSM
Larrau - when was it climbed the France side?
Cap de Long/Aumar
 
Ferminal said:
Oh ok Val Thorens was on my list.

Plenty of obvious stuff...

Granon
Iseran - last climbed in full from the north 20 years ago, from the south..?
Bonette - east in 2008, west..?
Mont du Chat
Bisanne
Allevard/Super Collet
Val Pelouse
Sarenne - the other sides
Grand Colombier - the other sides
Ventoux - Malaucene

PSM
Larrau - when was it climbed the France side?
Cap de Long/Aumar

Plateau de Solaison, Mantet, Station Les Karellis, Albiez-le-Jeune, arguably Valmeinier and Méribel-Mottaret? When was the last time they properly used Cayolle and Couillole?
 

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