Pla d’Adet - featured often in the Tour de France.
Ride 10.7 km to 1700 m gaining 883 m at 8.2%.
This climb is located in the Pyrenees Mountain Range which divides France from Spain. Along a 1 kilometer stretch after the giant hairpin at km 1.5 we have a sheer cliff to our left - not so bad on a bike but terrifying in a car (at least for me . . . 😟
Climb begins in Vignec, France - population 189 (1999), elevation 821 m.
The first 7.5 km of Col de Portet overlap with the more well known Pla d’Adet (included in 10 Tours de France as of 2019).
First 7.5 km of Pla d’Adet overlap Col de Portet
Ride through Soulan at km 5.2
Part company with Pla d’Adet at km 7.5.
Pla d’Adet goes south and Portet north at Espiaube.
A word of caution -- for those drivers who fear the many narrow roads with sheer cliffs on one side that we come across often in the Alps and Pyrenees -- this is one of them! For a couple of kilometers just after hairpin one at the start of the climb, this is perhaps the most terrifying road that you will ever encounter. In fact, our SAG refused to proceed up the mountain and thus we were left to do the climb on our own, which thankfully was not a problem.
TOUR DE FRANCE HISTORY
The Tour de France included Pla d’Adet 10 times since 1974 as of 2019, all summit finishes. Pla d’Adet is third all-time for summit finishes, behind the incomparable Alpe d’Huez and Puy de Dôme. This extraordinary, but little known bike climb was included in the tour when it was seeking these types of challenging, scenic and unique climbs to spice up the tour - its debut did not disappoint.
Raymond Poulidor would not be denied on Pla d’Adet stage 16 1974 TdF
This is a climb made famous by the beloved French cyclist Raymond Poulidor (Pou-Pou, or “The Eternal Second”). Poulidor rode his entire professional career from 1960-1977 for Mercier and in the shadow of two of the greatest cyclists of all time. Pou-Pou’s timing on the grand cycling stage was unfortunate as it fell in the middle of two nearly unbeatable legends - Jacques Anquetil (1953-1969: 5 TdF, 2 Giro, 1 Vuelta) Eddy Merckx (1965-1978: 5 TdF, 5 Giro, 1 Vuelta - record 11 Grand Tours). However, at least for this one day in Tour history, July 15, 1974 stage 16, The Eternal Second and conservative rider would not be the runner-up. Stage 16 would have only one major climb, Pla d’Adet, coming at the end of the 209 km route from Seo de Orge to St. Lary Soulan. So dramatic and legendary was Poulidor’s attack that a plaque now marks the spot at the first hairpin at the bottom of the climb where he stomped down on the pedals and rode away from The Cannibal, winning the stage by 41 seconds. Poulidor would finish second by 8min 4sec to Merckx in the Tour that year.
Memorial to Raymond Poulidor who finished 2nd at age 38 in the 1974 TdF
On the climb to Pla d’Adet Poulidor attacked and won the stage.
The Tour was so taken by Pla d’Adet that it was included 3 years in a row from 1974-1976. Lucien Van Impe had worn the yellow jersey for stages 9 to 11 but lost it by 2min 41sec to Raymond Delisle on stage 12. It was during stage 14 that Van Impe, arguably the greatest Tour climber of all time, sealed his first and only Tour de France victory. Helped along the flats between the penultimate climb (Peyresourde) and the base of Pla d’Adet’ by another great but aging climber, Luis Ocana, Van Impe hit the gas on Adet and pulled away to win the stage by :03:12 over Joop Zoetemelk. It was his dominating climb up Pla d’Adet that sealed de kleine van Mere’s (the little one from Mere) place in cycling history as a Tour de France general classification leader - a Champion. Van Impe is only one of 4 men to achieve a natural KOM double (Tour and Giro in the same year), he is 3rd on the all-time Grand Tour KOM list with 8 (behind Gino Bartali and Federico Bahamontes each with 9) and he was TdF KOM 6 times between 1971-1983.
1976 stage 14 - Lucien Van Impe regained the yellow jersey on Pla d’Adet and sealed his only TdF Victory
After stage 4 of the 1981 Tour de France, Gerrie Knetemann (NL) led the Tour by 1 second over Ludo Peeters and 2min 1sec over Australia’s Phil Anderson). June 30, 1981, stage 5 and Pla d’Adet made Tour history. The 23 year old Anderson gutted out a painful climb up Pla d’Adet clinging to the wheel of the indomitable 26 year old Bernard Hinault who was chasing, but would ultimately concede the stage to, Lucien Van Impe (KOM TdF 1981; total 6).
June 30, 1981 - the first time an Australian or non-European has worn the yellow jersey
Anderson rode across the finish line on Pla d’Adet with the same time as Hinault, both 27 seconds down from Van Impe. It was not the gutsy performance of this 23 year old Australian that makes June 30, 1981 historical. Amazingly, since the first Tour de France was held in 1903, never had a rider from outside Europe pulled on the maillot jaune at the end of a stage (to be completely accurate, no non-European had ever led the TdF before - the yellow jersey tradition only began in 1919). After stage 5 Anderson led Hinault by 17 seconds, but lost the lead on Stage 6 (13sec) and was only :02:58 down after stage 15 and :07:39 after stage 16. The young Aussie was the only real challenger to Hinault in 1981, but he blew up in the mountains, losing 17 minutes on stage 17 and Hinault went on to his 3rd of a record tying 5 TdF’s that year. Phil Anderson did finish in the Top 10, an impressive 10th overall (6th in both the climbers and the points competition).
Chart from Wikipedia - Pla d’Adet
Chart from Wikipedia - Pla d’Adet