Tour de France Forgotten climbs at the Tour de France

Wasn't sure if a new thread is ok for this one, but on the other hand I couldn't find a recent one with a similar angle. On top of that, it's possibly a really cool subject.

I've read an interesting blog article on 10 climbs that used to feature in the Tour de France, but disappeared completely in recent editions. The ones they mention, with both profiles and old race images, are:
  1. Cime de la Bonette-Restefond
  2. Puy de Dome
  3. Courchevel – Altiport
  4. La Plagne
  5. Superbagneres
  6. Guzet-Neige
  7. La Ruchere
  8. Les Arcs
  9. Les Deux Alpes
  10. Isola 2000 (Col de la Lombarde)
Number 2 is - at least to me - the most infamous one. It had the heroic Anquetil-Poulidor battle, and in Belgium cycling fans know it as the climb where Eddy Merckx got punched in the stomach by someone in the crowd and lost a 6th overall victory that way. Le Puy de Dôme was a stage finish for 13 (!) times, but disappeared after 1988 to never feature again. With multiple good reasons apparently, but let's hope for that historical comeback!



And La Plagne is of course a Dutch favourite, since Boogerd started his career as a Colgate model back there.



Also, my legs hurt spontaneously looking at this one:



I'd also like to add these ones as climbs that are rarely or never involved in the route of the Tour:





Anyway, enjoy the article and let's discuss!
 
Can't really say Sabot as it's never been in the Tour, so it can't really be considered 'forgotten' by it. Obviously MTFs are also limited by having to pay for the race, which is why, say, Superbagnères, Guzet-Neige, Piau-Engaly or Isola 2000 have disappeared from the route, whereas cols and saddles are a bit more flexible.

Something like the Col de l'Œillon, not seen since 1995, might:


Col Luitel, last seen in 1981 - and also usable with the last 6,5km of Chamrousse south as an addendum:


Col du Coq, not seen since 1987:


Col de Romeyère, partway up the HC - and never seen - Col du Mont-Noir. Last seen in 1985, and that was the first time since the 1950s. Yet you all know about this climb, for it was at the summit of this ascent that Federico Bahamontes stopped for an ice cream:


Col de Champ-Laurent, only seen once in Le Tour in and of itself, in 1980:


Pas du Mortier, rendered off-limits by the need for tunnel works, but seen once in 1986:



WVV has already posted a few of the more southern climbs which are now seldom seen, like Champs and Cayolle, but there's also the Col de la Couillole, seen only once, in 1975:


...and its near neighbour Valberg, not seen since 1973:


Plus you have those down in Alpes-Maritimes which aren't necessarily the toughest climbs but were once regulars, but not seen in decades. Take, for example, the Col de Braus, an annual staple in the 20s and 30s but only seen twice post-war (plus once in the Giro), the last time in 1961:


The Col de Tende/Colle di Tenda has been seen from its Italian side in the Giro, but the unpaved nature of the French side has prevented its use in Le Tour since 1961 too:


The Col du Corbier is a medium-mountain staple of smaller races, frequently appearing in l'Avenir, Valle d'Aosta, Pays de Savoie and so on but not in the Tour since the 80s:


And the Col de la Croisette - the pass on Mont Salève - hasn't been seen since 1992:
 
Last edited:
In the Pyrenees, there's even more frustration since they only tend to use a very restricted area between Ax-les-Thermes and Pau and seldom venture outside of that, meaning quite a lot of climbs that are seldom seen. These include the Col de Jau, seen 3 times, most recently in 2001:


The Coll d'Ares, climbed just once, in 1968:


The Col du Garavel, the descent from which directly links to Port de Pailhères, yet has never been chained with it, appearing just once in the 90s, before Pailhères was introduced to the race:


The Col de Burdincurutcheta, one of many Iparraldean behemoths much lauded and desired by fans, not seen since 2003:


The brutal Port de Larrau, another such climb, seen just twice, and far from the finish both times, in 1996 and 2007:


Col du Chioula, outside Ax-les-Thermes, hasn't been seen since 2001 - presumably as with Pailhères now passable and used invariably in key roles, unless Camurac or Monts d'Olmes pay for a stage finish, it's rather surplus to requirements:


Col de la Crouzette hasn't been seen since a single appearance in 1976 either:


In the southern Massif Central, as well as those never-yet-climbed ascents like Pré de la Dame, Croix de Bauzon, Col de la Mûre and Finiels, there's also Fontfroide, not seen since a single pass in 1994:


And Saint-Anastaise would make a nice little cat.2 warm-up before Super-Besse if they are going to insist on only doing the shorter part of it à la 2011 instead of the intermediate 2008 version:


Of course, the Vosges are very much in vogue at the Tour, but since every single stage appears to be mandated by law to finish at Planche des Belles Filles, there's a few climbs up there, especially in the northern part of the range, which are long forgotten too. The hardest of these is the multi-sided Champ du Feu, seen twice in the 80s, of which this is the toughest face:


And in the Jura, you have the Col de Portes, only seen once - from an easier side - in 2003:


A Tour Méditerranéen staple and frequent in Paris-Nice, Mont-Faron also appeared in the Tour just once, in 1957:
 
Never used and completely impractible.

Col de Porte and other climbs from the Chartreuse
Mont Saleve
Cols of the southern Alps: Turini, Couillole, Braus,...
Bagargui+Burdincurutcheta
Has been used twice in the past eight editions - from the easy side in 2020 and as far as Palaquit in 2014, which I think counts in a similar way as the Giro 2003 queen stage is considered to have used Fauniera, when they only went as far as Esischie. Between that and the Dauphiné, it's hardly a dormant climb these days.

Almost all the climbs in the LFR article are to ski stations that have lost interest in cycling, not sure who they think they're targeting here given that most of it is old news to the average person who reads mid-sized cycling blogs in November. In any case, it's difficult to add much to the classic thread on here.

In terms of forgotten climbs, I feel like some of France's mid-mountain options tend to be underdiscussed. For example, ASO have barely scratched the surface of the La Bresse area. They used this climb on the way to La Mauselaine in 2014...



...but then there's also the likes of Col de la Vierge (should be descendable through Col de Bramont) and Col du Brabant right next to it.





In terms of climbs that are, shall we say, a little more borderline in terms of width, it's harder to find profiles since Tous-Cyclos Vosges has disappeared, but this kind of stuff is on offer:







(the climb above might be possible as an MTF if the Hohneck ski resort were to host a finish)

In the wider area, there's of course the aforementioned wall to La Mauselaine that can be used as a pass by missing out on the final stretches, but there's a lot more unexplored stuff in this part of the Vosges alone.





Moving a lot further north, surely it's time for a decent French Ardennes stage? The Longwy stage next year features a nice little wall, but there's much more than that. For starters, in the old Criterium International, this climb was a staple of the race:



The descent of this backs directly into the profile below. The opposite side of this climb is similar, although it could need repaving.



This climb is also well-connected to various sides of Col du Loup, such as the one below.



Moving a little east, Sedan, with its citadel, is 12 kilometres away from this brute just across the Belgian border - there's an easy cat. 4 on the most direct route into town.



This climb can be directly preceded by the wall below. Both climbs are definitely wide enough, and as a bonus the magnificent fortress of Bouillon sits in between them.



I really should finalize the Tour design that utilizes the majority of these climbs at some point, the Race Design Thread could do with more people posting...
 
Mont Faron and Puy de Dome are both permanently out due to logistics?
TBH if there was a will there would be a way, but the Tour's logistics are such that would make them almost certainly out. Puy de Dôme could be done as an MTT à la Kronplatz if they were willing to have set fan areas to limit the crowds on the part which is super narrow due to the rack railway, do the support with motorbikes only after the parking and before the final steep section, and have the race done in waves of around 3 per team like the Kronplatz TT was, bringing the support bikes and motos back down on the railway to be reused for the next set of riders.

But then I woke up and Angelo Zomegnan hadn't staged an armed coup on ASO headquarters as I had thought, and a sense of inevitable disappointment washed over me.
 
When I was up on Puy de Done roughly ten years ago there was still an active archeological site that took up some of that flat summit area and if it’s still ongoing there, might restrict how much room there is for a summit finish area.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Wasn't sure if a new thread is ok for this one, but on the other hand I couldn't find a recent one with a similar angle. On top of that, it's possibly a really cool subject.

I've read an interesting blog article on 10 climbs that used to feature in the Tour de France, but disappeared completely in recent editions. The ones they mention, with both profiles and old race images, are:
  1. Cime de la Bonette-Restefond
  2. Puy de Dome
  3. Courchevel – Altiport
  4. La Plagne
  5. Superbagneres
  6. Guzet-Neige
  7. La Ruchere
  8. Les Arcs
  9. Les Deux Alpes
  10. Isola 2000 (Col de la Lombarde)
I think there is an absolute agreement that the French Alps south of Jausiers and Barcelonette are terribly underused. I think it's just a matter of time until Bonette is used again just due to its natural appeal of being the highest "pass" in the Alps, and the Col d'Allos you mentioned was used in 2015 which I think isn't that long ago, but aside from that it's really a shame how unused that region is. At least we had the 2016 Giro having its big finale basically taking place on the Col de la Lombarde.

Puy de Dome has often been a topic of discussion and I think the consensus has been that they just can't use that climb anymore due to various reasons. I do still feel like the Tour might return there at some point. The history and the region that doesn't have many other climbs that hard might have enough appeal.

Courchevel Altiport is honestly a very mediocre climb for the modern peloton. Don't think these kind of gradients can still do the damage as they did in previous decades. That being said, Courchevel has gained a lot of appeal as a potential stage host by the pavement of the Col de la Loze. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see either a Col de la Loze descent via Courchevel or a stage finish there after the climb from Meribel soon.
 
Glad to see such response. Kudos Libertine and Devil's. Very interesting, makes you think how much more variety the Tour could bring.
That's before we get to the passes that have never been used, too (without the need for work).

Mont-Noir has to be chief among them, with five sides, four of which are legit HC. Chamrousse can be used as a pass and is HC in all directions, especially via Luitel - 17,1km @ 7,9%. Further south, near Couillole, Saint-Martin, Turini and Valberg there's the Col de la Sinne, while Montagne de la Lure has been used in Paris-Nice and makes a good week 1 kind of tempo-grinder MTF. In the Préalpes d'Azur you have the ungodly inconsistent Col du Buis. The Col du Marcieu would fit perfectly with the Col du Coq as a chain of climbs, while in the northern Alps there are a lot of cat.2 type steep climbs just south of Lake Geneva. There's Beau Plan, just over by the Galibier, which has appeared in a couple of smaller races. The Col du Tra is a never used climb that leads directly into La Plagne, while there's another monster - 10,4km at 9,8% - to Plan Bois from Sangot near La Plagne (not to be confused with the more famous Plan Bois, near the Col de la Croix-Fry, and called Montée des Coches ). That could easily be linked to Plan Peisey or even Les Arcs. A really obvious one is the Croix de Sauget, or Grand-Naves, because it is at the base of the descent from Madeleine south and can be chained between it and the Trois Vallées ascents.

A good idea is to keep an eye on what races like the Tour des Pays de Savoie, Giro della Valle d'Aosta (it often includes stages in France or crossing over due to the Mont Blanc connection) and the Tour de l'Ain are serving up as they search for points of differentiation.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan and Wvv

 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Here's my "pushing the envelope" idea for an Alpine queen stage.

3x climbs (2x cat.1, 1x HC, though it may get downgraded to cat.1) that have never been seen; 2x climbs which are new - the Montgellafrey side of Madeleine and the Col de la Loze. 5 climbs inside less than 200km, an HC straight off the bat and no MTF, but if this came off the back of a major MTF stage - thinking maybe Super Collet or La Toussuire after Glandon or even Galibier via Télégraphe if they fancy something like the 2013 Giro did, or at least planned to (after all, Galibier north is going to be a monster and create gaps regardless of whether you want it to or not) - that would be a pretty suitable queen stage weekend methinks.

Seeing as ASO are going to want the historic climbs, and a stage like this needs a monster MTF before it otherwise it will scare everybody off, my suggestion is Chambéry to Galibier on the Saturday, going over Croix de Fer via Glandon (HC), going over Beau Plan for another innovation (1), before Télégraphe (1) and Galibier North (HC).

The bad news with this is that it limits you, seeing as ASO seem to like only having 6-7 HC climbs per race, to not too many such climbs in the Pyrenées. The good news is, that means you might get away without some of the same old same old in the Pyrenées, which are often more predictable than the Alps due to the concentration of most of the stages into a very small area.

 
Last edited:
Here's my "pushing the envelope" idea for an Alpine queen stage.

3x climbs (2x cat.1, 1x HC, though it may get downgraded to cat.1) that have never been seen; 2x climbs which are new - the Montgellafrey side of Madeleine and the Col de la Loze. 5 climbs inside less than 200km, an HC straight off the bat and no MTF, but if this came off the back of a major MTF stage - thinking maybe Super Collet or La Toussuire after Glandon or even Galibier via Télégraphe if they fancy something like the 2013 Giro did, or at least planned to (after all, Galibier north is going to be a monster and create gaps regardless of whether you want it to or not) - that would be a pretty suitable queen stage weekend methinks.

Seeing as ASO are going to want the historic climbs, and a stage like this needs a monster MTF before it otherwise it will scare everybody off, my suggestion is Chambéry to Galibier on the Saturday, going over Croix de Fer via Glandon (HC), going over Beau Plan for another innovation (1), before Télégraphe (1) and Galibier North (HC).

The bad news with this is that it limits you, seeing as ASO seem to like only having 6-7 HC climbs per race, to not too many such climbs in the Pyrenées. The good news is, that means you might get away without some of the same old same old in the Pyrenées, which are often more predictable than the Alps due to the concentration of most of the stages into a very small area.

I've always felt that the best way of using Plan Bois/Coches/Le Sauget/whatever you want to call it would be to climb to Arc 1800 through Peisey after its descent like l'Avenir did in 2017, either finishing there or descending into Bourg-Saint-Maurice. You'd need to take out Croix du Sauget out of this particular stage to make it semi-realistic, but that's a worthwhile sacrifice, IMO.
 
I'd question if Sauget is wide enough and has good enough pavement to be used on both sides

I don't believe TSMB ever used it so I am guessing it's not practicable even for a minor pro race
 
Last edited:

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS