Note: if you are looking a 2012 Stage 11 Preview of Madeleine – click here.
Now this is an interesting way to do Col de la Madeleine. First climbing Col du Chaussy and then following small, mainly unpaved, roads to Madeleine.
Col du Chaussy is probably best known for the truly unbelievable hairpins at the start – the “lacets de Montvernier.” But beyond this it’s a big climb with more than 1000 metres of ascent.
The lacets de Montvernier is a special 3 km stretch with 17 hairpins as the road virtually climbs a cliff. It’s very difficult to photograph from the road but I got one shot hanging over the cliff from the picturesque chapel at the top (it’s worth clicking for a bigger version).
After the hairpins, it’s still a very interesting climb winding up through alpine fields with a great stretch along a cliff road a few kms from the top.
From Col du Chaussy until the last 2 kms, the majority of the road is not paved and is definitely NOT suitable for a road bike.
This stretch is great. No cars, lots of cows, great views – and the Lac du Loup (wolf lake).
At “La Traverse”, the road crosses back into the valley with Madeleine, and joins the main route a couple of kms from the top. This was a hot, tough ride and I enjoyed my reward at the restaurant at the top: a gauffre myrtilles!
Descending Madeleine, I took the D76 instead of the D213 which is the classic Tour route. The D76 descends on the opposite side of the huge gorge and has the advantage of absolutely no traffic. Frankly, it seems a more interesting route than the D213 for the next time I visit – and is do-able by road bike.