Tour de France Forgotten climbs at the Tour de France

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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
The width should be manageable. Two of the first three kilometres of the descent into Les Coches would need repaving though, and I'd imagine the last bit of the climb would be improved at the same time although it isn't strictly necessary. All in all, that's not a particularly large amount of work by the standards of a race for which entire cols have been transformed from forestry tracks or ski runs into smooth asphalt. Too much work to justify doing for a small race like TSMB, though, especially in a valley where you need to close an N road to access from the west.
 
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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.

From memory Courchevel is a half decent long tempo grinder that can do damage if the stage itself is hard (much like La Touissierre).
 
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  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)
Not very impressive list. 3, 4 and 8 are fairly identical climbs in from the same valley. Is 2 acutally realistic at all? I thought Puy de Dome was more or less out of the question permanently?

I mostly miss the southern Alps climbs in addition to more variety in the Pyrenees than centering a lot of the stages around Bagneres du Luchon.

Col de Bonette, Cayolle and Isola 2000/Auron/Super Sauzee as a stage finish.

Otherwise I miss use of some of the steep climbs close to Grenoble. Luitel with a stage finish at Chamrousse. Coq or Granier at least fairly close to the finish of a stage. A good last mountain stage could have been Coq followed by Porte and a descent finish to Grenoble. Here you could also add Chamrousse via Luitel earlier on the stage.

And Madeleine as a focal point for a stage. Not just crossing before halfway into the stage.

Btw; Superbagneres. Isn't possible that the town of Bagneres de Luchon could pay for a finish here instead of Peyragudes? Any reason why they also prefer the latter climb?
 
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Even the French side of Agnel hasn't been used since 2008 (same as Bonette and Lombarde).
It's not as hard as the Italian side, but you still have the final 8kms at over 8.2%, starting at 2,000m of altitude.
A downhill finish in Sampeyre after Izoard and Agnello, maybe with the stage starting in Le Bourg-d'Oisans the day after a Alpe d'Huez MTF, would be sweet.
Also, you have Saint-Véran as a possible easier MTF after the Agnello from the Italian side and around half of the descent.
It's the final 6kms of this one (the finish would probably have to be with 500m to go):
SaintVeran.gif

If the Tour starts in Italy (Pinerolo) once again that would be an awesome stage.
You could also start in Briancon and cross into Italy over Montgenevre before climbing Sestriere, that would still be under 206 kms (Zomegnan would probably not approve this stage for me not throwing in Montoso in the middle, but let's keep it somewhat realistic).
https://www.cronoescalada.com/tracks/view/763387
 
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.

RSpNcMT.png

Unfortunatlely, something like this is never gonna happen. But there is a golden middle between this and queen stages like the Alpe d'Huez stage next year and similarly in 2018. There
 
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.

D'oh.... I actually meant Col du Coq.
Puy de Dome is such a legend. An epic road around the volcano with historical significance in cycling. One of most iconic MTF ever used (next to Ventoux and Alpe).
Why did the TdF abandon it? Bad road quality? Hopefully it will come back one day.

1000_F_49046077_ZmqiAHyr7AahM7yyHAsBrpcF6R0InIdD.jpg

Construction of a tramway in the middle of the road.
 
The width should be manageable. Two of the first three kilometres of the descent into Les Coches would need repaving though, and I'd imagine the last bit of the climb would be improved at the same time although it isn't strictly necessary. All in all, that's not a particularly large amount of work by the standards of a race for which entire cols have been transformed from forestry tracks or ski runs into smooth asphalt. Too much work to justify doing for a small race like TSMB, though, especially in a valley where you need to close an N road to access from the west.

Unless I have missed some other examples

Portet was/is a showpiece Pyrenees MTF

and Loze is an effort by 2 resorts to attract summer tourism

and none of that applies to Sauget.

But it is possible that I am forgetting some example of roadwork so that a climb can be used as a pass. Maybe something was/is done with Spandelles?
 
Even the French side of Agnel hasn't been used since 2008 (same as Bonette and Lombarde).
It's not as hard as the Italian side, but you still have the final 8kms at over 8.2%, starting at 2,000m of altitude.
A downhill finish in Sampeyre after Izoard and Agnello, maybe with the stage starting in Le Bourg-d'Oisans the day after a Alpe d'Huez MTF, would be sweet.
Also, you have Saint-Véran as a possible easier MTF after the Agnello from the Italian side and around half of the descent.
It's the final 6kms of this one (the finish would probably have to be with 500m to go):
SaintVeran.gif

If the Tour starts in Italy (Pinerolo) once again that would be an awesome stage.
You could also start in Briancon and cross into Italy over Montgenevre before climbing Sestriere, that would still be under 206 kms (Zomegnan would probably not approve this stage for me not throwing in Montoso in the middle, but let's keep it somewhat realistic).
https://www.cronoescalada.com/tracks/view/763387
I dunno but there's plenty of space at the observatory at Pic de Chateau Renard above this.

Anyway I'm assuming Parpaillon is never gonna get road works and get used?
 
Unless I have missed some other examples

Portet was/is a showpiece Pyrenees MTF

and Loze is an effort by 2 resorts to attract summer tourism

and none of that applies to Sauget.

But it is possible that I am forgetting some example of roadwork so that a climb can be used as a pass. Maybe something was/is done with Spandelles?
Port de Balès was paved in 2006, one year before it was included in the Tour. The recently (2015) paved Andorran passes were done for the Vuelta.
 
Balès was the main climb I was referring to.

The Giro has also had its fair share of passes paved - the descent of Finestre for the 2005 race, Cuel di Forchia one year later, Pian del Lupo (the one in Piemonte) for 2019, and probably a lot more I don't know off the top of my head.

Bottom line - a couple of kilometres of bad asphalt don't mean a climb like Le Sauget is permanently off limits for a GT. Spandelles has recently been fully repaved from what I can find online, Sauget would need less work.
 
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Soudet west is one of my favs. It was used in the 2016 Vuelta. It was only categorized as 1st category, even though it was one of the hardest climbs in the race (and way harder than the HC finish on Aubisque that day). It's about as hard as the classic ascent from the north. Froome destroyed the Tour field there on the way to La Pierre Saint Martin.

In the Tour - I think - it was only used from this side once, in 2006. In a rather pointless transitional stage to Pau, with Marie-Blanque as the only other meaningful climb. (The final portion of the climb was raced in 2020, though, with another misused climb, Col de La Hourcère preceding it. )

the classic Soudet ascent from the north (not underused)
SoudetN.gif



Soudet west:
SoudetW.gif


extended to Col de la Pierre Saint Martin, near the Spanish border:
PierreSaintMartinNW.gif
 
Was it just poor asphalt that was the problem on Plan Bois in Criterium Dauphine? If it was just that, and the road don't need any other (expensive) improvements, it would be a very good alternative to repave and combine with Croix de Fry for a descent finish to La Clusaz (or a finish at the top of Aravis).

In general there are some very good options in the northern part of the French Alps for a last mountain stage designed for long range attacks:
  • Joux Plane followed by Joux Verte or a gentle ascent to Les Gets.
  • Col de Coq followed by Porte and a descent finish to Grenoble.
  • Plan Bois followed by Croix de Fry and a MTF at Aravis or descent finish to La Clusaz.
 
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Was it just poor asphalt that was the problem on Plan Bois in Criterium Dauphine? If it was just that, and the road don't need any other (expensive) improvements, it would be a very good alternative to repave and combine with Croix de Fry for a descent finish to La Clusaz (or a finish at the top of Aravis).

In general there are some very good options in the northern part of the French Alps for a last mountain stage designed for long range attacks:
  • Joux Plane followed by Joux Verte or a gentle ascent to Les Gets.
  • Col de Coq followed by Porte and a descent finish to Grenoble.
  • Plan Bois followed by Croix de Fry and a MTF at Aravis or descent finish to La Clusaz.

I think I remember gravel on the road being mentioned as a reason for crashes on Plan Bois, not poor surface as such (but maybe gravel on the road can be a sign of a poor surface).
 
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I think I remember gravel on the road being mentioned as a reason for crashes on Plan Bois, not poor surface as such (but maybe gravel on the road can be a sign of a poor surface).

In the aftermath of stage 4 of the Dauphine, several riders were highly critical of the inclusion of the Col de Plan Bois descent in the race. Among the most vocal was Kruijswijk’s teammate and compatriot Tom Dumoulin who said “it was a disgrace that that descent was in a race. The whole descent was really tricky but the first two or three kilometres were full of gravel, potholes, bumps in the road, 15% drops down … this downhill should never be in a race.”
 
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I think I remember gravel on the road being mentioned as a reason for crashes on Plan Bois, not poor surface as such (but maybe gravel on the road can be a sign of a poor surface).
Okay. It's a big difference if it's just the surface of the road, or if more extensive measures were needed. For example some really dangeours hairpins where you fall a long way if you go over the railing. Or some constructional issues for the road.
 
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Well at least I didn't lie about 'recent threads' :tonguewink: