Col d’Izoard – The Day Before The Tour


Col d’Izoard is one of the legendary cycling climbs in France. Last week my Swedish friend Jens and I cycled it the day before its appearance in the 2017 Tour de France.

I’ve written about it a few times before, so I’ll mainly just post some photos here. But first: a few fun Izoard facts:

  • The name Izoard “perhaps” comes from the German name Isoward – “Iso = Iron” and “Ward = Gardien” – an old warrior name
  • The road was built from 1893-97 by the French military. The monument at the summit (1934) is dedicated to Général Berge and its construction.
  • Izoard has appeared 35 times in the Tour de France (first in 1922).
  • The 2017 summit finish atop Izoard (2361m) appearance was the 3rd highest in Tour history (Galibier/2011/2642m; Granon/1986/2413m).
  • Just for fun, here are the TdF riders first over the summit of Izoard between 1947 and 1954: Robic, Bartali, Coppi, Bobet, Coppi, Bobet, Bobet. Legends!
  • Near the summit of the north side, is one of six Refuge Napoléons. Built by Napoleon III, but ordered built by the original in thanks to the locals during his return from Elba.

The Hautes-Alpes department hosts many car-free bike morning on big cycling climbs. In fact there are 3 days for Izoard in 2017. I attended one one in 2014, truly fantastic. Details here. For a complete list of Hautes-Alpes car-free days, including the Izoard dates, see here.

2014 bike day – La Casse Déserte

Jens and I would climb the north sides, but then continue over the top to Col de la Platrière, so we could ride through the legendary Casse Deserte – the last 2.5 kms of the south side. I think both sides are fun, but the highlight of any visit will always be the Casse Deserte.

North Side Photos:


At the summit, behind the store/restaurant, is a hiking trail that leads to fantastic views of the Casse Deserte hairpins. We hiked/rode over to it. Superb views.

The Casse Deserte is basically the 2.5 kilometre stretch between Col de la Platrière (2220m) and Col d’Izoard (2361m). View from Col de la Platrière:

The road briefly descends from Platrière then heads up again to the summit. On your left, don’t miss the Coppi-Bobet monument.

Izoard is a magical place. Full of history, both cycling and military. And the Casse Deserte is unique and beautiful. Definitely one of my favourite cycling climbs.

A 3D video of our ride:


About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.

1 Comment

  1. Etienne Reding on

    Hi Will,

    First of all, thanks for all your awesome ride descriptions and amazing pictures. I am just back from a three weeks trip to the alps and your website was very useful to plan the bike rides. We climbed up Col des Planches, Col du Lein, Col du Sanetsch, Col d’Izoard (part of Risoul Queyras Cyclosportive), Col de Vars and Col du Galibier.
    Please keep the inspirational posts coming and hope to see you on the road soon.


Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!