The Highest Road in Europe?By Will • Jul 25th, 2006 • Category: Climbs, Cycling
COL DE LA BONETTE:
Col de la Bonette is the highest Tour de France Col (pass) as it is the highest paved road in France. The road signs claim to be the highest road in Europe, although there are certainly competing claims elsewhere. 24kms. 1,600 metres vertical. The top is at 2,802 metres (well over 9,000 feet).
North Side (Black): 23.8 kms (14.8 miles); Ascent: 1,600 metres (5,250 feet)
South Side (Red): 25.8 kms (16.0 miles); Ascent: 1,700 metres (5,580 feet)
Two Austrian paved roads seem to be slightly higher: Söldener Gletscherstraße at 2,803 metres and the nearby Ötztaler GletscherstraBe at 2,823 metres in a tunnel. Still Bonette is pretty impressive.
This will only be the 4th time that Bonette appears in the tour de France. Bonette first appeared in the Tour in 1962 and 1964, both times The Eagle of Toledo, Frederico Bahamontès, was the first over the Col – The Eagle was a six time winner of the Best climber Award in the Tour. In 1993 Britain Robert Millar was first over the top.
There are two primary routes up Bonette.
Blog Entry Summer 2006 – Along with Izoard this was my main trip objective. A spectacular ride up to rarified heights. Luckily I had Doreen as driver /photographer today So I didn’t need to carry too much … every ounce feels like too much and I swore to diet at least three times. The road "only" goes to just over 2,700 metres and thus would be lower than the Col d’Iseran (July 2005). So they build a crazy loop around the mountain peak to reach 2,802 metres. This last 100 metres up feels exactly that … straight up — steep!. I slipped off my bike passing some people and the bastard i was riding with took off, as I got on with half a kilometre to go, I sucked every last molecule of thin oxygen and passed him to finsih gasping (I won’t say how much older he was than me as it would wreck the drama).
We also hiked up to an observation point at 2,860. It’s a pretty ugly hunk of rock at the top but its higher than most of the surrounding neighbours so the views are great.