Ten worthy climbs the Tour de France forgot
In today’s post we are going to revisit some climbs that were actually part of Tour de France routes but are not anymore in the route in the last years. I’ll hope you enjoy the post featuring profiles and stage videos and will let us know your opinions.
1. Cime de la Bonette-Restefond
Despite being one of the hardest climbs in France and probably the only one comparable to the Stelvio, Bonette has been included only four times in the TDF, last time in the Cuneo – Jausiers stage of Tour de France 2008. The climb pays the habitude of Tour de France of rarely visiting or doing crucial stages in the Southern Alpes. Last time it was climbed it didn’t gave bigger gaps between the peloton riders but in the previous one (1993, finish in Isola 2000) was a crucial part of the stage. The col has been recently climbed in the Giro d’Italia 2016 stage ending in Sant’Anna di Vinadio and it was the last time that we saw it in a Grand Tour. It offers excellent chances to do a stage like Laghi di Cancano picking one of the sides and pairing it with a climb after it: Pra Loup, Super Sauze, Auron or Isola 2000 are good finishes for a stage featuring the highest mountain pass of Europe.
2. Puy de Dome
The Puy de Dome was one of the most iconic finish of Tour de France, featured 11 times between 1952 and 1988. The uniqueness of the climb was being out of both Alps and Pyrenees, starting from Clermont Ferrand and being in Massif Central, offering a chance of having a MTF closer to Paris (like in 1988 stage). There are unfortunately two things preventing Tour de France going back on a such iconic climb: the first is the monorail built alongside the road that prevent any circulation of emergency vehicles – the second is that the site has been inserted in the “Gran Site de France” lists, having as requirement to reduce the impact of human activities on the climb. Mountain has also been inserted for two years in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and actual city councilors didn’t want to waste the work with UNESCO hosting a Tour de France finish on the top of the Puy de Dome. There are anyway some hopes and planning for a finish there in 2024.
3. Courchevel – Altiport
Courchevel was a finish visited three times between 1997 and 2005 and in each one of them stage have marked an iconical step in TDF history. In 1997 there was Pantani crisis sending him out of podium, in 2000 there was a duel between Pantani and Armstrong won by the Italian and in 2005 the first victory of Alejandro Valverde in the Tour de France in front of Armstrong himself. Courchevel was also featured as a finish in 2014 dauphiné where Talansky turned upside-down the GC stripping Contador the yellow jersey – but finish was not in the Altiport that hosted three times the Tour de France finish.
4. La Plagne
Not so far distant from Courchevel, La Plagne was also featured four times in Tour de France, between 1984 and 2002. There is maybe some hope of having it back as it was featured in Tour de Dauphiné route this year in one of the two stages won by Mark Padun. The climb is long and hard – constatly on 7% average and is one of the classic Tour de France climbs with no extreme slopes but constant hardness. Fignon won twice on this MTF in 1984 and 1987, then Zulle and Boogerd.
Superbagneres has been featured in Pyreenes six times as a MTF, two of them as a climb time trial and one of them as the shortest Tour de France stage history: Bagneres-de-Luchon > Superbagneres of 19,6 Kms. Climb is not as hard as the previous ones, but it’s a good finish considering you can pair it with Peyresourde or Port de Bales. Last time it appears in TDF was in 1989 with Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde before it, Robert Millar won the stage beating Delgado with Fignon taking the yellow jersey from Greg Lemond.
Guzet-Neige ski station hosted three times a TDF finish between 1984 and 1995. The climb perfectly pairs with Pyrenees of Ariege region offering a steep finish that can be placed after Col de Latrape. Marco Pantani won on this climb in 1995 during the 5th Indurain Tour de France in a stage featuring Port de Lers and Col d’Agnes before ascending from Col de Latrape side. Stage of 1984 was instead a key day in Robert Millar’s career as it was sent in TDF as a domestique but winning the stage and being 4th in GC at the end of the TDF (best result for a british rider at that time – only Wiggins 2012 will beat it) and winning the KOM jersey pushed the team to give also him his chances.
7. La Ruchere
A forgotten climb of the TDF that was featured only once – and in an ITT of 20 km with a finish on this steep climb in Chartreuse. While Fignon won the stage, Delgado had the best climb time – having so the record. While it’s pointless having it as a single finish, this climb can be paired with several climbs in the zone, also forgotten, like Col du Coq. It’s unclear why it has never been featured again after that day.
8. Les Arcs
Being near la Plagne, les Arcs has been once a MTF in Tour de France, in 1996 with Luc Leblanc winning a stage with La Madeleine and Le Cormet de Roselend on the menu before the climb. The climb starts from Bourg Saint-Maurice and is near la Plagne, even if it’s a less harder than it. It’s an idel pair for a stage featuring Iseran from southern side or the Roselend but has never been used again in TDF despite its length (23,7 km)
9. Les Deux Alpes
Despite being the finish of one of the most iconic days of Tour de France history, Les Deux Alpes was not used since 2002 and was only the 2nd time it was featured in TDF after 1998 stage. Surely the climb pays being nearby the iconic finish of Alpe d’Huez, often used by the department as a mountain top finish for Tour de France – but considering the descent of Alpe d’Huez being doable like in 2013 it can be an interesting solution for stimulating long-range attacks on the Alpe itself. Will it ever come back in the Grand Boucle?
10. Isola 2000 (Col de la Lombarde)
Closing as we open – Southern Alpes. Isola 2000 was the MTF of the iconic 1993 stage starting from Serre Chevalier where Indurain held on all the attacks of Rominger that had to recover more than 5 minutes after the time trial. After that day the climb was never featured again in TDF – it has been in Giro as Col de La Lombarde (going in Italy onto the top and then ending in Vinadio) and in 2008 stage of Jausiers from the other side. Climb it’s long enough for a finish and we saw Nibali destroying Chaves and the rest here in Giro 2016. It’s unclear why TDF continues to ignore southern alps.
Your time now: do you remember any of these climbs in TDF? Do you want to see them again? Do you think there may be other climbs being added to this list? Let us know in comments section.
Co-Founder of LFR account. Cycling lover since early 2000s. Say no to short stages.
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