One of the "big three" in the tour, together with the Aubisque and the Galibier. The east-side (from Campan) is the heaviest side of the Tourmalet, although gradient and average % are lower than the west-side. Note that the Col du Tourmalet is closed from the beginning of November to the beginning of May.
The real start of the climb is located in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, one of the small villages on the D935 to Bagneres-de-Bigorre south to the higher Pyrenees. Bagnères-de-Bigorre itself is located at the foot of the Pyrenees and the Tourmalet itself surprisingly close (only 30 km) to Tarbes "La Pyrénéenne", the highway to the north of the Pyrenees that connects the Atlantic coast with the Mediterranean Sea. The Tourmalet can therefore, just like the westerly lying Col de l'Aubisque, be quickly reached from the south of France.
When you start in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, climbing starts there, since it lies at a height of 550 meters. Over a distance of 12 km you bridge, flanked by ascending higher mountain slopes, some 300 vertical meters. Nearly 3%, but keep in mind that there are short stretches of over 8% here next to the flat pieces. So, you're already warmed up a bit when the real climb begins when you turn right the D918 in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan.
In the first five kilometers you won't notice much difference in percentages. The road continues to go on and off with even descending pieces and you wonder when the col really starts until you reach Gripp. The percentage now rises to more than 8% and the road hugs the hillside and the trees. The first five kilometer, the pecentage remains stable at around 8 to 9%. Meanwhile, you take the first hairpin in the forest.
When you reach the first gallery, near the Barrage de Castillon, the percentage finally goes into the double digits. The two kilometers between the first gallery and La Mongie with 10% and pieces of 12%, are the toughest of the whole ascent.
When entering La Mongie the climb gets easier again. A kilometer further on, at the exit of this ugly ski village, you see the sign of the last 4 kilometers. The top is now within sight and the thought that the last kilometers go at about 8%, is motivating. After three hairpins - the last hairpin is very steep and you better not take it on the inside - you reach the top with the famous iron statue and get rewarded with the view into the beautiful west side of the col.
The Col du Tourmalet is situated in Midi-Pyrenees
and belongs to the
Starting from Sainte Marie de Campan,
the Col du Tourmalet ascent is 17.2 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1268 heightmeters.
The average percentage thus is 7.4 %.
Look for other sides to climb the Col du Tourmalet.
Since 2005, the Col du Tourmalet will be/was climbed in the following big tour stages:
Tour de France 2014 : Pau - Hautacam on 24/07/2014
Tour de France 2011 : Cugnaux > Luz-Ardiden on 14/07/2011
Tour de France 2010 : Bagnères-de-Luchon > Pau on 20/07/2010
Tour de France 2009 : Saint-Gaudens > Tarbes on 12/07/2009
Tour de France 2008 : Pau - Hautacam on 14/07/2008
Col du Tourmalet from Sainte Marie de Campan in 3D, on Googleearth!
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