One of the "big three" in the tour, together with the Aubisque and the Galibier. The east side (of Campan) is the heaviest side of the Tourmalet, although the average is lower than the west side. Please note that the Col du Tourmalet is normally closed from the beginning of November to the beginning of May.
The real start of the climb is in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, one of the small villages on the D935 from Bagnères-de-Bigorre to the south to the higher Pyrenees. Bagnères-de-Bigorre itself lies at the foot of the Pyrenees and the Tourmalet itself is thus surprisingly close (only 30 km) to Tarbes and "La Pyrénéenne", the motorway that connects the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean north of the Pyrenees. The Tourmalet is therefore, just like the more western < ahref=" https://www.climbbybike.com/climb/Col-de-lAubisque/6038" alt=" Col de l'Aubisque ">Col de l'Aubisque quickly accessible from the south of France
When you start in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, the climbing starts from there, at an altitude of 550 meters. Over a distance of 12 km you'll pass, flanked by higher ascending mountainsides, about 300 meters altitude. On average almost 3%, but keep in mind that besides flat stretches there are also short stretches up to more than 8%. So you are already a bit warmed up when the real col starts and you turn right on the D918.
Where is the Tourmalet?
In the first five kilometers you don't notice much difference in gradient. The road keeps going up and down with even descending stretches and you wonder when the col really starts. When you reach Gripp the time has come. The percentage now rises to more than 8% and you end up against the mountainside and between the trees. The first five kilometers the percentage stays stable around 8 to 9%. Meanwhile you also take the first hairpin bend in the forest.
Only when you reach the first gallery after the forest, before the Barrage de Castillon, the percentage goes into double digits. The two kilometers between the first gallery and La Mongie are with 10% and pieces up to 12% the heaviest of the whole climb. Here it's biting your teeth!
Ugly ski village in the middle of beautiful nature
When you enter La Mongie, the climb back will be a bit easier. La Mongie is not the best place for a stop, unless you want to take the cable car to the Pic du Midi.
By the way, you're already quite close to the top. When you drive out of this ugly ski village, you already see the sign of the last 4 kilometers. The summit is now in sight and the thought that the last kilometers are about 8% is motivating. After three hairpin bends - the last hairpin is very steep and it's best not to take the inside - you reach the top with the famous cast iron statue of Octave Lapize and as a reward you get a view of the beautiful west side of the col.