If you are looking for a preview of Stage 9 of the 2010 Tour de France (and the north side of Madeleine) click here.
One of the giant hors (outside) categorie climbs in the French Alps – hors categorie meaning it’s so difficult it was beyond the original rating system used in the Tour de France.
The route took 20 years to build and is one of only two roads (col d’iseran far to the east) that crosses the Vanoise Alps. It is named after a little 18th century chapel at the top dedicated to St Madeleine. Every July the people from each side of the mountain meet at the top for a celebration (ok I’m enjoying some history from my new Coffee Table book on the great climbs of the French Alps.
For details of the North side of Madeleine – see here.
Since its first appearance in 1969, this col features most years in the tour de france. I climbed the classic route from the west starting in La Chambre, although this years tour went in the other direction. The climb is more than 1,500 metres (5,ooo feet) over only 20 kilometres. Yikes! It’s hard and relentless. The two “easy” rest bits are still 6%. The forest disappears for the last several kilometres and the open mountain is part of a small ski resort. Luckily no wind today as apparently it can very breezy up there.
I felt pretty strong and passing several people early kept my spirits high – although it also meant I pushed myself pretty hard and i was pretty tired at the top. The col is at 1,993 metres but unashamedly (like col de la joux plane falsely claims 1,700) has a big sign proclaiming 2,000 metres.
The descent (ok the ascent too) has 40 turns – many pure hairpins – and a mediocre surface so it was pretty hairy.
I can’t believe I forgot a camera. Or maybe my subconscious wanted to avoid any extra weight. Epic ride!
Total distance 7,404 kms