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Col du Tourmalet - Luz-Saint-Sauveur     open your myclimbbybike to add this climb

19 km  2115 m  (1404 m)  7.4 %

Description

The Tourmalet is one of the "big three" of the tour, together with the nearby Aubisque and the Galibier (Alps). On the west side (Luz) the Tourmalet is a very regular climb of almost 8%. You can also start the climb from Argeles-Gazost, where you pass when you come from the Col de l'Aubisque/Col du Soulor. In this case, it's best to take the "voie verte" (bicycle path on an old railway track) that starts in Lourdes and goes up to Pierrefitte-Nestalas. This way you avoid the busy D921 or even busier D913. From Pierrefitte-Nestalas you'll reach the first one anyway.

Where you barely gain altitude meters on the cycle path, the road that runs along the Gave de Pau starts to rise from there. From Pierrefitte it's another 12 kilometers to Luz-St-Sauveur. This road is subject to the elements of nature and there are often roadworks here. Especially in view of the Tour de France which passes here almost every year.

When leaving Luz-Saint-Sauveur, it immediately goes towards 8%. The road is wide and, although not very busy, the traffic is not pleasant. Fortunately, most drivers, in sight of the Tourmalet, are respectful of cyclists. After 6 steadily ascending kilometres mostly between the trees, two hairpin bends and even a little bit up to 12%, you reach the village of Barèges, which you drive through. There is also plenty of opportunity for a coffee break here, before you start the beautiful part of the climb.

Disaster

Time to reflect on the route you've just followed, from Argeles to Barèges. You may have noticed that the river Gave de Gavarnie which after Luz turns into the Gave de Pau ou du Lavedan is in some places very wide and bordered with large boulders, and that the road from Luz to Barèges is in perfect condition. This has to do with flood disaster of 2013. Many places, including Barèges and the lower village of Villelongue were then cut off from the world. The road and riverbed had to be repaired in many places afterwards. Even Lourdes was not spared.

The disaster has made that you feel like a cyclist on a real highway. When you descend here you can reach high speeds. But since we are taking the opposite direction, we have to point out that the beautiful road surface and the big road are not conducive to the cyclist's sense of safety. Luckily this changes after Barèges. Although the road is still wide and built for cars, motorized traffic is getting less dense now. When you reach the cable car a few kilometres further, you have two options; you can take the Touët-et-Labach route on the right or follow the D-918, the Route du Tourmalet. Near the ski resort Super-Barèges both roads join again. We take the official route and follow the D-918.

The real Tourmalet

From here it becomes really interesting and fun to cycle. Finally you end up in the beautiful surroundings of the Tourmalet, as you know them from the pictures on Climbbybike. A few hairpin bends sharpen the climbing feeling and also the percentages go up. At the ski-station Super-Barèges you get some rest but after that there is some hard climbing to do. The best is kept for the final kilometer with an average of 10.5% and stretches up to 13%. But as a reward, you can finally see the statue of the Géant du Tourmalet at the top of the Tourmalet and order a delicious cake in the Restaurant du Tourmalet.

Did you know that this statue is brought up and placed on top every year under the guidance of cycling tourists? This rando-festive du Géant du Tourmalet takes place every year at the beginning of June and you can participate for free. The statue symbolises Octave Lapize, the first rider to conquer the Tourmalet and the Pyrenees in the Tour de France. That year, in 1910, he also won the Tour de France.

By the way, from here you can climb even further to the Pic du Midi, over a gravel road. A mountain bike is recommended. If you're less adventurous you can also descend to the ski station of La Mongie on the other side and from there take the cable car to get a great 360° view of the Pyrenees. Weather permitting of course. As is usually the case in mountains, keep in mind that the weather can change quickly here and that you can sit here, even in summer, close to the freez

The Col du Tourmalet is situated in Midi-Pyrenees. This climb belongs to the Pyrenees. The Col du Tourmalet via Luz-Saint-Sauveur is ranked number 25 of the Pyrenees. The climb is ranked number 66 in France and number 444 in the world. Starting from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the Col du Tourmalet ascent is 19 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1404 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 7.4 %. The maximum slope is 10.2%. If you want to climb the Col du Tourmalet, you can find more information on how to train to climb the Col du Tourmalet here.


Since 2005, the Col du Tourmalet will be/was climbed in the following big tour stages:
Vuelta España 2020 :  Biescas - Col du Tourmalet on 25/10/2020
Tour de France 2019 :  Tarbes - Tourmalet on 20/07/2019
Tour de France 2016 :  Pau - Bagnères-de-Luchon on 09/07/2016
Tour de France 2012 :  Pau > Bagnères de Luchon on 18/07/2012
Tour de France 2010 :  Pau > Col du Tourmalet on 22/07/2010

Images of the Col du Tourmalet

148.53

Climbbybike difficulty score (148.5)
25
Ranking Pyrenees
27
Ranking France

Col du Tourmalet via Luz-Saint-Sauveur popularity rank : 7

The Col du Tourmalet has been climbed by 171 climbbybikers. It is ranked No. 7 as the most climbed climb in the world.
Discover all the most climbed climbs in the world.

Col du Tourmalet via Luz-Saint-Sauveur: 56 reviews

4.9
Road
4.5
Traffic
4
Amenities
4.5
Surroundings
5
Neil Gaylor

I first dreamed of doing the Col du Tourmalet 3 years ago and I was inspired by the many stories on ClimbByBike''s page. I decided to do it from Luz-Saint-Sauveur where there is a free car park, a bike shop if you need it, and some good cafés.

At the age of 72, I''m still a reasonable climber but I found the ascent harder than expected as the average gradient doesn''t flatten out in many places before Barèges so I didn''t get a chance to ease off the pedals. With hot sunshine, 26 degrees C, and 90% humidity, I stopped at the first café in Barèges and ordered sparkling mineral water. The waitress brought me a 1.5-litre bottle when I only expected 500ml but I drank the lot - she knew my needs better than I did!

After Barèges the views open out and become more and more spectacular. I couldn''t help stopping to take photos, which are great to look back on as they really show where I had come from. As mentioned by many ClimbByBikers, the last few kilometres do get steep but I was lucky enough to be cheered on by a Luz-Saint-Sauveur photographer on the last hairpin bend, 300m from the summit. She took superb photos which I was able to purchase from her shop on the next day (one of them is now my profile photo).

A truly great experience.

Carl

I''ve done this side of the Tourmalet twice now. Once in low cloud and once in late day sun. The sun is definitely better for scenery and enjoyment. Even in summer, when it''s cloudy at the bottom, it will be cold with little visibility for at least the last 10k or so. The clouds can be so thick that you can barely see the signs with the climb information. Bring warm and bright clothes. If you go in the early evening, there is a lot less traffic.



There are excellent facilities and bike rental in Luz St Sauveur. The road is now mostly repaired from the 2013 floods.

Peter & Rob

We had planned this ride for almost 2 years, but the wait was well worth it. Rob & Peter arrived at Campan mid-morning, a strange place with lots of life-sized puppets placed all over the town. The weather looked bleak with a chill wind, a real shock to the system after leaving our campsite on the Med. We set off onto the Tourmalet together, at a fair pace, as the incline was quite gentle. That was soon to change as we reached the first ‘tunnel’. Robert started to press on and was soon out of sight. Up through the pines and past the mountain streams gave a nice feeling. The writing on the roads gave you the feeling that you were part of the history and battles that had occurred on this epic climb. Robert endured a rough period through La Mongie, but got it back together soon after and powered on towards the summit. Peter, meanwhile, was 1km behind – the grueling final km left to go. As he reached the last hairpin, Robert accompanied him to the summit. The feeling of reaching the summit was quite emotional. We were glad to be part of a band of cyclists who had made such a climb. A quick coffee, then eyeballs out for the descent in fog and drizzle (78 kph). No view from the top as the weather closed. Brilliant ride.

chris bessant

As a novice cyclist, I was invited to do some climbs in the Pyrenees by my son and a friend, to celebrate my 50th.....Yesterday we climbed the Tourmalet from the St Marie de Campan side. Beautiful day, wonderful climb, perhaps I`ll go back less than 103kg next time..

Scott Shannon

I rode the Tourmalet in October of 2012 on a holiday extension from business in Barcelona. It was one of the last fall days warm enough to ride shorts and short sleeves, and I started in the morning chill on my own from Saint Savin. Needless to say, I was plenty warm by the time I reached Bareges, and even though the temperature at the summit had dropped to a breezy 60F or so, I was still hot and happy. I only saw two other riders on the mountain that morning, but the echos of TDF''s past were evident every pedal turn in the miles of painted messages on the tarmac! It was truly an epic ride, and I can''t wait to return next summer!

Brian Grindall

I climbed the Tourmalet from St.Marie de Campan on Tuesday,September 4,2012 on a tourer carrying 35 lbs of camping gear. It was a cool,clear morning and I got on the climb at about 0900. The first few km to Gripp were ok - a good warm up - and then it started. I got onto the granny ring,found my rhythm and got into my box. Pine forest went on and on and I tapped out a steady tempo until La Mongie came into view - which was almost deserted - and this is where the climb got serious. The last 4 km were challenging - especially the inside of hairpins where you really have to work hard. The cloud cleared and the sun came out as I reached the summit,had my photo taken,put my cape and helmet on and began the descent to Argeles Gazost which,after the ski station car park is an absolute screamer ; watch out for the one-way street going down into Barreges. The whole day was 34 miles and took me about 4 hours - not too bad for a 65 year old weighing well over 200 lbs !

robert mau

Hi my friend and I are trying to ride the col du tourmalet. We will be traveling from Marseille by train. Can anyone provide some traveling information and bike rental information for the area. Much predicated. Robert

morgan

Followed part of the Tour 2011 in June 2012,and decided to give then Tourmalet a run, by car, I gave up two wheels many decades ago, I doubt I could have done this climb even then when relatively fit.



In a car, which only made the whole length in bottom gear anyway, I was both delighted with the wonderful views, as well as feeling great admiration for the complete idiots who ride this trip on two wheels, (actually I love the fact there are such idiots in the world), amongst them as we climbed higher and higher, were at least ten or more who were obviously my own age, that is 70 plus.

I just wish I could be as daft as them.



My wife and I are watching the 2012, and can''t wait for stage 16 so we can live it over, if only vicariously, this year.

Mrs has already stated she wants a return trip next year, possibly if the Tourmalet is included, we will be there to wave the wheelers on their way up, or down according to which side we choose, both of possible.

Bon chance and fair weather to all in stage 16, there will two pairs of eyes going with you all the way, via the TV

Alum3

Did both sides back to back with a quick ice cream and water stop in Luz in June 2012. They where gritting the road on the way up from Saint Marie de Campan probably to get ready for the TDF, just hoping they clear the loose gravel before the tour comes through.



The descent down to Luz is very very quick. Has to be said not as hard as expected, the perfect weather probably helped, 28C and blue skies and running 34-25 helps as well. What makes this climb special is that you''re cycling in the foot steps of legends, there is even a detour on the way up from Luz sign posted "la Voie Laurent Fignon" in honour of the two times tour winner who passed away in 2010 at far to young an age. The voie fignon is the old route to the summit and rejoins the new road half way up.



Would recommend that anyone doing this does both sides, so you can appreciate the differances between the two climbs.

Ken Hardacre

I am not a good strong rider, and without the help and encouragement of Andy Parkhurst a good friend of mine I could not write this. During a 3 week stay in France to cover the E''tape du Tour and the TdF itself. I was given the opportunity to ride the Tourmalet which was started on the flat road from the Fuel station near the bridge over the river. I had to do it in 3 sections but I finally managed the peak. Why 3 try''s at it? I have Cancer and Diabetes, but I did not ride alone as I took with me the memory of Ian Kennedy who sadly died of Cancer December 2009. I had many stops and starts, and was helped by many riders from all countries with good words and friendship. I also wear a Yellow wrist band, given to me by Lance at the 2009 Giro. I have a lot to live up to. Livestrong. Ken

Julian Foot

Did the Tourmalet from the west on Tuesday 14th June 2011. It was a hot, sunny and very humid day so I reckon I finished a good few pounds lighter than when I started. Tried to take it steady and keep my heart rate under control. This is vital given the length. The start seems tough, especially knowing how far you have to climb, but when you get out of the trees and into the sunshine it gets really hard. I stuck to the main road which has a nice smooth surface. On a lovely day I only saw one other cyclist on my side. Anyway, I managed the climb all the way completing in about 1hr45mins (in compact with 28 rear). That last km is really hard but it is well worth putting in a bit of hard work to achieve a lifetime''s ambition. Make sure you put all your gear on for the descent though...it gets really cold.

Bryan Tait

Rode the tourmalet with 2 mates the day before stage 16 on this years (2010)tour...the weather was red hot..and after an hours steady climbing I came to the first distance from the summitt sign saying 16km which was pretty demoralising, encouraged on though by the great atmosphere created by thousands of drunken campers lining the route from all over the world...I certinly didnt expect to come across a dutch disco complete with disco lights 2km from the top playing making your mind up bucks fizz...this was a relentless but steady climb and with my 34/28 bottom gear and 45 year old legs I found it quite do-able...I even felt quite emotional on reaching the summitt...as for the views ??? Well that cannot be put into words...this is one of those rides you have to do before you die...absolutely brilliant!!!

MJ

On a touring holiday with my family I found myself in Lourdes with my bike. Informed that I could do a 100k ride that would include the Tourmalet - which I wasnt sure I could get up without stopping - I set out from Lourdes early on a cool overcast Friday the 13th morning. Rode via Argeles to Luz and then up. The signs every K tell you how far you have left and how steep it is for the next kilometer and I was pleased to see the ones that said only 7%! Low cloud meant that there were no views to take my mind off my breathing and I actually missed a couple of the signs - which was nice - the road just goes on and on and as you go higher you can feel the air getting cooler (and thinner) but just keep pushing the pedals and ticking off the Ks until theres just two then one left and yes it does get steeper for that last one. Managed to ride into the storm drain and fall off after avoiding another cyclist and a car coming down and then flew up the last 50 meters or so fuelled by embarrassment! Took two hours but I did it! Got the photo (my thanks to the two Breton cyclists who had come up the other way)and then blasted down through La Mongie really glad of the winter gloves - it was really cold on the hands and feet.

Pedro R

Ive climbed this great beast for 3 times in my vacations in the Pyrenees in 2010. the first climb was from Luz Saint Sauveur just to check it out. The day was foggy and i couldnt see the landscape. Ive went with the goal of keeping a steady 160 bpm heart rate to manage the 18km with a steady pace. The road is amazing and very constant so it was easy to keep it steady HR even with the gears 39 25 or even 23. The second time i went with the goal of leaving Saint Sauveur and climbing Tourmalet then decending to Sainte Marie Campan to Col dAspin and the way back to Saint Sauver Climbing this time the East side of Tourmalet. It started well with this time the sky almost clear and Ive manage to climb to Tourmalet and DAspin very well with the same HR tactic. (In a race... responding to attacks.. must be demolishing!) When I went to climb my way back from the east side it started raining like hell with thunder storms and heavy winds... boy it was a nightmare to arrive to the top. when I passed La mongie I was strugling to keep it at 10km/h... but it worth the effort! :) I will never forget this week in the Pyrenees. Most beatifull climb: Col dAubisque Most Powerfull climb: Col du Tourmalet

Thomas Blondiau

Enjoyable ride, good to have this monument on my cv! Quite constant climb. I didnt find the last K (indicated in red on the graph) to be particularly more difficult than the previous kilometers. I had more problems during the Bareges section (and just after passing Barèges) actually. Perfectly suited to do with the gears on my bike, switching between 34x25 and 34x27 during the last kilometers.

Oscar Stevenson

I went up the Tourmalet during the rest day of this years (2010) Tour de France, the 100 year anniversary of the climbs inclusion in the race. Early morning the day was foggy with low cloud and a very light misty rain which made visibility extremely poor. The drama of the climb was still present however as the caravans of the tour supporters appeared silently out of the fog by the side of the road and occasional glimpses to the right through the fog looked like drops into the abyss. Just before La Mongie you Rose out of the clouds and were then confronted with the odd situation of battling up a mountain whilst passing through a town/village where people are milling about in the streets going about there business. Had to almost track stand at one point to let a car out. After La Mongie it is a lovely clear stretch of road (except for tha lamas!) with the summit cruely visible for most of the time. Riding the Tourmalet was a real pleasure, there are no really steep sections so if you get yourself in a good rythm it is just a steady slog. I did it on an old carbon Peugeot from the 80s but changed the chainset so I had 39x28, which was fine. The ride back to Bagneres, which is about 35km downhill, was the most fun Ive had in years!

John

I sort of ""stumbled"" on Tourmalet during a road trip of Northern Spain with my girlfriend. I didnt research it much before the ride (I didnt know the length or grade) but I knew it was an epic climb. I started in Pierrefitte-Nestalas but did time the ""proper"" start of the climb, 17.9km from the summit. I didnt stop at any point but could still take in the beautiful view and the plethora of sheep on the way up. I was there just 1 week after the 2009 Tour but there were hardly any cyclists/tourists. It wasnt fast, but got to the top in 1:16 I descended the other side and then got half way up Col dAspin when I noticed my tire was almost busting through the casing (a defect that was recalled by the manufacturer) Closest bike shop was 20km out of the way. So I decided to forge up the the Sainte Marie de Campan side with a 10cm section of the tire torn down to a thin piece of casing. It made a nice ""thump"" on every wheel rotation on the way up. I got to the top of Tourmalet for the 2nd time and the sun was starting to set. I was worried about stress on the tire that braking would produce, so I did the descent (26km) without ever using the rear brake.

Christian Rocca

Just got back from a few days in the pyrenees with a couple of great friends (Chippy and Sellers). Tackled the Tourmalet on the first day and what a day. Set off from Luz-Saint Sauveur which makes it about 18/19 km to the top. It was drizzling slightly for around the last 4-5 km but that just added to the mystique of the climb. Incredible feeling to see the faces of a couple of friends waiting at the top and then sharing the view, the moment and a hot chocolate before starting down.The descent was quite tricky with the wet roads....and boy was it cold coming down! Great climb which will soon be done from the other side!

Salvador Ruibal

I have climbed from both sides and consider the Mongie approach to be somewhat easier overall despite the very steep ramps and avalanche tunnels as one nears La Mongie. From the ski area to the top is often in clouds; you can hear the bells of mountain goats and sheep, so be aware. The Luz St. S route seems steeper because of the stunning views from the switchbacks and the harsh wind. The final mile or so can be very windy, but the finish is more satisfying. Ride carefully down to La Mongie for a double espresso and a sandwich at one of the many cafes there.

Jean-Philippe Soule

Tourmalet is the climb of all climbs from the Tour de France: more Tours have been won on Tourmalet alone than on any other climb. Although its name alone is legendary, the challenge of the actual climb is as real as the scenery is spectacular. The western climb from Luz runs first through a deep shaded valley and then up at a constant grade of more than 7%. Half-way up it opens onto wide meadows and verdant pastures that give you a glimpse of the top—and the much steeper final kilometers that will take you there. There are two ways to climb Tourmalet: get into the mood, suffer and compare your time to the best or take your time, stop to take photos at every turn and save your legs for those last killer kilometers. Either way, youll love riding the legend. If youd like to include Tourmalet in a more comprehensive ride, check out my recommended cycling routes for a selection ranging from loops visiting pristine valleys and medieval villages with fine cuisine to extreme mountain challenges. This page is an excerpt from: ""Best Cycling Routes of the Pyrenees"" - www.bestofthepyrenees.com

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