Cols du Télégraphe & Galibier Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

12
FIETS
21.9 mi
DISTANCE
6,950 ft
GAINED
5.4 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

These are two of the most famous Cols in the world and can be combined into the #7 most difficult road bike climb in France (see PJAMM's France climb page). 
The average grade of this combined-col route is 5.5% (6.9% if the 4.8 km descent between the finish of Télégraphe and start of Galibier are eliminated and only climbing is calculated).  69% of the route is at 5-10% grade and 3% is at 10-15%.  The steepest 500 kilometers is 10.1% and is locaqted near the finish of Galibier; steepest kilometer is 9.6%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button above.
Roadway:  2 lane roadway with center dividing line in good condition.  There is no shoulder on the roadway.

Traffic: - mild to moderate.

Parking: On the street near the climb - try Avenue de la  République to the right as you approach the start of the climb  - MapStreet View


Provisions:  None on the route until Valloire at kilometer 17 and through the ski resort area for 2.5 kilimeters and then not again until kilometer 30.6 at La Ferme du Galibier. 

Weather and Gear:  We travel to one of the highest finishes of the Tour de France (2642 m) so be sure to consult the PJAMM "Full Forecast" feature for the time you expect to arrive at the finish to assess what clothing to bring on your ride.
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
This climb is in a world climbing mecca.  There are two great cycling hubs to stay at if you are in the area - See PJAMM climb area pages:  Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France and  Le Bourg-d'Oisans, France

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Difficulty: Strenuous
4
Road
3
Traffic
5
Scenery

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Aug 30, 2021
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 4
Aug 30, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 4
These really are 2 separate climbs. Telegraphe starts going uphill right from the start in town at 8-10% so it is smart to warm up on the flats in town. This climb is mostly on a forested road with only rare views. Valloire is a chance to regroup for the long and challenging climb up Galibier. And Galibier is special...long and varied with spectacular views up the mountain ahead and down back to the valley. The last 3 km. are difficult with hairpins that seem to go on and on especially since you can see the summit way up in the distance. But once there..WOW! The views down both sides are outrageous and worth the effort. It was cool and windy at the top so we were glad to have packed sleeves, vest, long fingered gloves and wind jackets for the ride down, which given the road condition is fast and fun....perhaps the best descent yet.Don't miss this one!!
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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Col du Galibier and Telegraphe - KM marker for Galibier surrounded by snow banks

Cycling Cols du Télégraphe and Galibier

Ride 35 kilometers gaining 2,115 meters at 5.4% average grade (7.1% climb only).

Cols du Télégraphe and Galibier combined make the #7 most difficult road bike climb in France. Read more about the Top 10 bike climbs in France here.

photo collage shows street signs along the climb

The climb begins in Saint-Michel-De-Maurienne which is located just south of the epic cycling center of Saint Jeanne de Maurienne.

photo collage, climb finish, Fort du Telegraphe, street signs

Col du Télégraphe

11.7 kilometers, gain 830 meters at 7.1% average grade.

PJAMM Cyclist rides on side of roadway and takes selfie showing two tour busses passing him

Since this is the primary route to the popular ski resort town of Valloire, there can be a fair amount of traffic (and buses!) depending on the time of year and day you climb.

photo collage shows beautiful French Pyrenees mountain views along the climb, Maurienne Valley

There are some wonderful views of the Maurienne Valley as we climb.

photo collage, climb finish, Fort du Telegraphe, street signs

Have a meal or snack at Fort du Télégraphe at the finish.

Google Reviews.

From Col du Télégraphe it is 4.8 kilometers at -3.5% (188m) to the ski resort of Valloire and from there experience one of the greatest cycling experiences in France and the world - Col du Galibier.  

photo collage, signs for Galibier, KM marker, large statue of elk

Col du Galibier is 17.4 kilometers gaining 1,199 meters at 6.9% average grade.

Climb begins in the ski resort of Valloire. 

photo collage, cyclists climb on two-lane roadway toward snow dotted mountain tops, PJAMM Cyclist stands with bike in front of green mountain views, road sign for Galibier 

After a 4.8 kilometer, 162 meter descent, climb Col du Galibier from Valloire.

17.4 kilometers gaining 1,199 meters at 6.9%.

stone bricks next to sign for Route des Grandes Alpes

Cols du Galibier and iTélégraphe are part of the Route des Grandes Alpes, a tourist itinerary that begins in Thonon-les-Bains and travels over many of the most spectacular passes in France and Europe, including Col de L’Iseran, Galibier, d’Izoard, and Bonette; alternate route includes Croix de Fer and Madeleine.

photo collage shows PJAMM Cyclists riding toward snow capped mountain peaks, KM marker signs for Galibier

Stay left at the fork (photo top right).

 Tunnel (no) to the right, Col du Galibier (yes) to the left.

final set of haripins before the finish

Final set of hairpins before the summit.

Seven hairpins for 1.3 km at 9.3% near the top, then 400 meters straight at 10.6% to the finish.

PJAMM Cyclist John Johnson poses with bike at mountaintop finish for Col du Galibier

COL DU GALIBIER TOUR DE FRANCE HISTORY

PJAMM CYCLING’S TOP 10 MOST FREQUENT CLIMBS OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE -

AND 10 FAMOUS ONES AFTER THAT

Climb name

Mountain Range

Times Featured in Tour de France

Most recent

First included

Col du Tourmalet

Pyrenees

88

2021

1910

Col d'Aspin

Pyrenees

73

2022

1910

Col d'Aubisque

Pyrenees

73

2022

1910

Col de Peyresourde

Pyrenees

68

2021

1910

Col du Galibier

Alps

63

2022

1911

Col de Portet d'Aspet

Pyrenees

58

2021

1910

Col des Aravis

Alps

41

2020

1911

Col d'Izoard

Alps

36

2019

1922

Col de Vars

Alps

35

2019

1922

Col d'Allos

Alps

34

2015

1911

Alpe d'Huez

Alps

32

2022

1952

Col du Télégraphe

Alps

31

2022

1911

Col de la Madeleine

Alps

29

2020

1969

Col de la Croix de Fer

Alps

21

2022

1947

Mont Ventoux

Alps

18

2021

1951

Col du Soulor

Pyrenees

16

2019

1912

Col du Glandon

Alps

14

2015

1947

Puy de Dome

Massif Central

12

1988

1952

Luz Ardiden

Pyrenees

9

2021

1985

Col de l'Iseran

Alps

8

2019

1938

As of 2022 Col du Galibier has been featured in more TdF’s than all but 4 other climbs.

Col du Télégraphe is #14 on the all-time list

©  PJAMMCycing.com

Bartali handing Coppi a water bottle on the Galibier in the 1952 TdF,

Or Coppi sending it back to Bartali -- the debate rages . . .  

Photo:  iconicphotos.com

Haute Route quotes Henri Desgrange in his praise of this climb:

The Galibier became a legend at the very first time it was used by the Tour de France, in 1911. This is how Henri Desgrange, creator of the Tour de France, introduced it to his readers: “Oh! Sappey! Oh! Laffrey! Oh! Col Bayard! Oh! Tourmalet! I will not fail in my duty in proclaiming that next to the Galibier you are as weak as dishwater: before this giant there’s nothing one can do but doff one’s hat and bow down low” (translation by Marvin Faure) (Hauteroute.org - Col du Galibier).

When first crossed in 1911 by the Tour de France, no tour rider had ever ridden higher.  Although the Galibier route until 1976 tools the tunnel at 2,556 meters.  From 1976, the Tour has gone over the pass at the top which is 2,642 meters.

   

Cycling Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier - John Johnson and PJAMM with bike at Col du Telegraphe.

Andy Schleck, Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France.

Col du Galibier -- highest mountain top finish ever.

Photo:  roadbikereview.com

As with many of the challenging and beautiful climbs of France, Galibier is fabulously famous because it has been justifiably blessed by the Tour de France on many occasions (35 times since its first post WWII appearance in 1947, which was the first TdF since 1940).  Most recently (as of 2020) Galibier was featured in The Tour in 2019 (Nairo Quintana won the stage from Embrun to Valloire).  In 2017 debutante Primoz Roglic became the first Slovenian to win a TdF stage when he came out on top in Stage 17 from La Mure to Serre-Chevalier.

Cycling Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier - John Johnson and PJAMM with bike at Col du Telegraphe.

Primoz Roglic, Stage 17 Tour de France.

First Slovenian to win a TdF stage.

Photo:  Cyclingtips.com

Of Galibier and the Tour de France, Wikipedia writes:

The Col du Galibier was first used in the Tour de France in 1911; the first rider over the summit was Emile Georget, who, with Paul Duboc and Gustave Garrigou were the only riders not to walk.

Emile Georget, Col du Galibier, 1911

Photo: Emile Georget.


The original summit was at 2556 m; while the tunnel was closed from 1976 until 2002, the tour route went only over the pass closer to the mountain peak at 2645 m. In 2011, the Tour de France went through the tunnel for the first time during the 19th stage from Modane Valfréjus to L'Alpe d'Huez.

At the south portal of the tunnel, at the edge of the road, there is a monument to Henri Desgrange, instigator and first director of the Tour de France. The memorial was inaugurated when the tour passed on 19 July 1949. Whenever the tour crosses the Col du Galibier, a wreath is laid on the memorial. The "Souvenir Henri Desgrange" is awarded to the first rider across the summit of the highest mountain in each year's tour. In 2006, the prize of 5,000 euros was claimed on the Col du Galibier by Michael Rasmussen.


Since 1947, the Col de Galibier has been crossed 31 times by the Tour de France. It was scheduled to be used in 1996, but was left out at the last minute due to bad weather. As a result of snow on both the Col de l'Iseran and the Col du Galibier, the scheduled 190 km stage from Val-d'Isère to Sestriere in Italy was reduced to a 46 km sprint from Le-Monetier-les-Bains which was claimed by Bjarne Riis, resulting in him taking the yellow jersey which he retained to the finish in Paris.

In the 2008 Tour, the Col du Galibier had been crossed on 23 July in the 210 km stage 17 from Embrun to Alpe d'Huez.

The 2011 Tour climbed the Col du Galibier twice to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the pass in the Tour de France, including the first ever summit finish, won by Andy Schleck after a 60 km solo breakaway. This was the highest ever stage finish in the Tour de France. It was scheduled to be used again in stage 20 of the 2015 Tour, but was left out nine days before the race start due to landslides in the Chambon Tunnel, situated towards the bottom of the descent of the climb.”

The Telegraphe, and Galibier, are the scene of the greatest racing day in the life of Marco Pantani.  It was here and in this Stage 15 of the 1998 TdF that Pantini attacked on the Galibier and ultimately turned a three minute deficit into an 11 minute lead against Jan Ullrich.  Pantini went on to win the Tour de France that year.  

Pantani attacks 4.2 km from Galibier summit.

Photo:  Cycling-passion.com

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