Cycling Col du Tourmalet Sainte Marie de Campan

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Col du Tourmalet - Sainte Marie de Campan

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Basic data & ranking

Average grade: 7.4 %

Length: 17.2 km

Height start: 847 m

Height top: 2115 m

Elevation gain: 1268 m

Maximum: %

Col du Tourmalet rankings

Difficulty ranking world: 480 (all)
Ranking France: 71 (all)
Ranking Pyrenees: 17 (all)
Difficulty score: 136.62 what?

Col du Tourmalet ratings

(4.7) Overall

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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 Pyrenees . 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

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Stories, information and comments from Col du Tourmalet climbers
Story by Guillaume from Heloup, France, submitted on 09/09/2013
this is one the toughest I ever had... especially before la Mongie. Do not underestimate this one, over 9% for 13 kms, this is not for everybody ! better be prepaired. Beautiful view. Beware of animals, I had ships and dunkies !
My personal climb rating:
Story by malcolm smith from , United Kingdom, submitted on 07/04/2012
Did the east side climb to the Tourmalet in May this year. A great climb with some tough sections especially through the rather grim and ugly ski station at La Mongie. Not as scenic as the western approach from Luz, but nonetheless a great climb to end a great week in the Pyrenees.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Sean Mullins from Melbourne, Australia, submitted on 25/07/2011
What a great climb. I did this on the morning of the tour (14th July 2011) so had tonnes of other cyclists for company. Honestly surprised it didn''t feel harder - I think the fact it starts easy helps me personally. It was my first time on my bike since completing the Etape on the 11th, where Alpe D''huez at the end felt like agony. Weather perfect, sunny but not hot. My favourite climb to date. Met the ''Devil'' on the way down, and had to play with the Gendarmes to get back to Grippe and my girlfriend, as roads were closing. Lots of fun!
My personal climb rating:
Story by Anthony p Beggs from Petersfield, United Kingdom, submitted on 19/06/2011
Rode east side Marie Campan June 2; 2hrs to do 11miles (age 60yrs). middle 4 miles at 7 mph until out of trees, then down to 5 and 4mph; v hard.Mongie is hard. 39x29 just ok but think 33x29 would have been easier ! wish had taken gloves as day drove up behind a snow plough ! visibilty at times near zero.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Mark Mirski from Annapolis, United States, submitted on 08/05/2010
Climbed 3 days before the Tour came through this July 2010. Stayed in Luchon prior to climb - lots of fun was this quaint town all ""dressed up"" for the Tour. Beautiful day at top, although began clowdy in Ste. Marie de Campan. Long ride up, although it never felt overly difficult. surprised that the gradient reaches 10+% as it did not feel that difficult. No respite (no flattening out whatsoever)which prbably lends itself to the fatigue facor people mention. Again not too bad. worst part was the ""in your face"" breeze that came up during the last 2 Km. The Tour climbers experienced drenching rain this year throughout the climb, we were in terrific weather the 3 days prior. What nice luck for us! Absolutely a spectacular vista from top, and climbing the Tourmalet fulfilled a bucket list item for my cycling interest. Wow!
My personal climb rating:
Story by richard murray from Llanelli, United Kingdom, submitted on 17/06/2010
we climbed the Tourmalet in 2001, it was my 50th birthday, we came up from St M Campan with our touring bikes with panniers and tent, it was the hardest climb i have ever completed, and it was the most memorable, worth all the pain.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Steve Barker from Ottawa, Canada, submitted on 16/10/2009
Awesome ride, great views! Retraced part of Stage 9 of the 2009 Tour from Arreau up the Col DAspin and over to the Tourmalet. The day started off misty and cool (last week of September) but the sun came out and the best part - it was relatively calm! Aspin was actually a pleasant ride and a good warmup for what came next. The start of the Tourmalet fools you - 4 and 5 % grades .. ""This will be a piece of cake"" .. then it starts. As others have said, the last 10k are tough with the section leading up to and through La Mongie very tough. Surprisingly there werent a lot of cyclists that day but there were plenty of sheep, goats,cows and llamas on the road to keep me company! No speeed records for sure that day but Id highly recommend this climb to anyone. Rate it right up there with Ventoux.
My personal climb rating:
Story by opsommer Kristof from Wevelgem, Belgium, submitted on 30/10/2008
I climbed the tourmalet this summer and I have to admid that it was a spectacular experience! The 4 first kilmoters are enjoyable in the heat of the pyrenees but then the real work begins. It was a difficult climb for me because I didnt have the right gear 39 - 25, this caused me trouble in the last 3 kilometers but I made it. Next year I will climbe it again whit the right gear! Spectacular view at the top!
My personal climb rating:
Story by opsommer Kristof from Wevelgem, Belgium, submitted on 30/10/2008
I climbed the tourmalet this summer and I have to admid that it was a spectacular experience! The 4 first kilmoters are enjoyable in the heat of the pyrenees but then the real work begins. It was a difficult climb for me because I didnt have the right gear 39 - 25, this caused me trouble in the last 3 kilometers but I made it. Next year I will climbe it again whit the right gear! Spectacular view at the top!
My personal climb rating:
Story by Frederik Defossez from Ghent, Belgium, submitted on 10/12/2008
On the 20th august 2008, together with a friend, we climbed one of the ""big three"". Although we had chosen to start our climb from the ""easiest"" side (St Marie de Campan), it still takes a great effort to reach the top. The first 5 ks are not very hard but then, the road gets more steep till the top (7,5-10,5). The view on the top is magnificient!
My personal climb rating:
Story by Lukas from Sydney, Australia, submitted on 08/04/2008
I climbed this 2 days ago in blistering Pyrenean heat. I left my place just outside of Lourdes headed for St Marie de Campan. The 35km to this point was all gently uphill which started to give the legs a feel of what was to come. The first 3 signposted kilometers were easy, but just after Gripp things start to get serious, and the gradient indicator on my Garmin was constantly between 8 and 10%. The couple of kilometers before La Mongie were the toughest of the climb, but by this point the views start to get more and more spectacular, which make the pain a little easier to accept! the 4kms after La Mongie remain steep, but by now the summit is in reach and adrelanine powered me to the top. Unforgettable experience, and definitely the highlight of my time in the Pyrenees. The Aspin from Arreau was also memorable, but the Tourmalet incredible.
My personal climb rating:
Story by Nigel Somers from Belfast, Northern Ireland, submitted on 21/07/2007
I love this climb!! Ive climbed it 4 times on the ascent form Ste Marie de Campan. Its awesome and the history that surrounds it for a racing cyclist just added to its mystique for me!! I left Bagneres de Bigorre to attempt an ascent to the Pid du Midi Observatory at 2977M!! Id climbed the Tourmalet before and soon settled in to the drag up past Gripp and on to the hairpin after Arizes waterfall. From there the Tourmalet starts to bite, and the long slog begins up to La Mongie ski resort. Then it really tightens and the road begins to swtichback and the last 4kms seem to last forever especially when your goal is in sight for most of this last section. I broke a chain here the previous day and had to walk 3kms to the cafe at the top, was funny watching peoples faces when they saw a bike at the top of the Tourmalet with NO chain!!! Anyway, made it up safely and then began ascent to the Pic du Midi..but thats another climb (see elsewhere!!)

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