Col de la Croix de Fer Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

8.8
FIETS
18 mi
DISTANCE
5,369 ft
GAINED
5.2 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

The Pass of the Cross (Croix de Fer) has been featured in the Tour de France 19 times between 1947 and 2021, and time #20 will come on Stage 12 of this year's 2022 Tour de France.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via our interactive Profile Tool.
Information Not Available

If you have any information regarding this climb, we'd like to hear from you. Click the CONTRIBUTE button to share your thoughts with us.

Information Not Available

If you have any information regarding this climb, we'd like to hear from you. Click the CONTRIBUTE button to share your thoughts with us.

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.
Information Not Available

If you have any information regarding this climb, we'd like to hear from you. Click the CONTRIBUTE button to share your thoughts with us.

ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Not Yet Rated
-
Road
-
Traffic
-
Scenery

CURRENT WEATHER

NEARBY CLIMBS (0) RADIAL PROXIMITY

FROM
No Climbs Found

MEMBER REVIEWS & COMMENTS

Let us know what you thought of this climb. Signup for our FREE membership to write a review or post a comment.
Already have an account?
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

Climb Profile Not Found
CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - panoramic view shows hiker walking on roadway next to KM marker sign, green mountains

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

Fifth longest climb in France.

28.5 kilometers gaining 1602 meters  at 5.2% average grade (6.5% climb only).

We feel this is the most scenic of the three approaches to the Iron Cross atop Col de la Croix de Fer. It is also the only approach to the col that does not substantially overlap Col du Glandon.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows iron cross at summit, KM markers along the way, roadsigns

This fantastic climb begins in Saint Jean-de-Maurienne, which we consider to be the center of one of the great climbing areas of the world.  Click here to read more about the Saint Jean-de-Maurienne climbing area and travels through the Saint Sorlin-d’Arves ski resort to the Iron Cross at the top of the climb. There are three routes to the Col de la Croix de Fer (“Pass of the Cross”) and we have charted those in the map in the menu bar at the bottom of this page.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows large statue of Opinel knife; km markers, road markers along the way

Climb begins in St. Jean-de-Maurienne, the birthplace of Opinel knives.

There are three popular approaches to the Col: from the East, West, and North.  The Northern and Western approaches overlap Col du Glandon.  Here are the basic statistics for the three Croix de Fer climbs, together with the overlap information for Col du Glandon:

Climbing Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne by bike - view of forest and mountains

Spectacular views on this climb, one of the most scenic in all of France. 

  • Col de la Croix de Fer East (Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne) -- this is the only route that does not overlap Col du Glandon: 28.5 kilometers gaining 1602 meters at 5.2% average grade.
  • Col de la Croix de Fer West (Le Verney): 24.2 kilometers gaining 1489 meters at 5.2%.
  • Col du Glandon West (Le Verney): 22.5 kilometers gaining 1365 meters at 5% (all overlapping Croix de Fer West).
  • Col de la Croix de Fer North (Saint-Étienne-de-Cuines): 23.2 kilometers gaining 1609 meters at 6.9%.
  • Col du Glandon East (Saint-Étienne-de-Cuines): 19.6 kilometers gaining 1530 meters at 7.4% (all overlapping Croix de fer North).

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage show views on first few kilometers of climb; road signs; hairpin turns in roadway, sharp mountains can be seen in distance

Beautiful views over the first few kilometers after leaving Saint Jean de Maurienne.

Top left and bottom right photo:  Aiguilles d’Arves

The Aiguilles d’Arves is a mountain in the Arves massif of the French Alps comprising three separate peaks.  These peaks are visible early on in the climb to Col de Croix de Fer and continue to be visible as we make our way over the final few kilometers from Saint Sorlin-d’Arves to the col.  

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage; Saint Sorlin-d'Arves ski area; cattle graze in tall grass next to road

We reach the ski area of Saint Sorlin-d’Arves at kilometer 22.

This climb is one of the longest in the area at 29 kilometers, although there are 2 moderate descents along the route - 2.4 km -2.5% and 2.7 km -2%.  The steepest 500 meter segment is 10.3% and steepest kilometer 9.8%.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows stretch of climb between the ski resort and the climb finish; idyllic French mountain scenes; lush green hills, mountain peaks in distance; two-lane roadway

There are six gorgeous kilometers of cycling between the ski resort and col.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows stretch of climb between the ski resort and the climb finish; idyllic French mountain scenes; lush green hills, mountain peaks in distance; two-lane roadway; Aiguilles d'Arves

Views over the last few kilometers.

Note Aiguilles d’Arves photo bottom left.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows KM markers along the climb

Kilometer monuments mark our route from Saint Jean de Maurienne to the top.

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows KM markers along the climb

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows KM markers along the climb

Cycling Col d la Croix de Fer from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - photo collage shows KM markers along the climb

At 3 kilometers, stunning views of the valley below and Aiguilles d’Arves.

Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - the iron cross, sky and mountain

The Pass of the Cross (Croix de Fer) has been featured in the Tour de France

21 times between 1947 and 2022 - #20 on Stage 12 2022 TdF

Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - hang glider and mountains, meadow

Skiing in winter, hiking, cycling and paragliding in the off season.

Biking Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - John Johnson, PJAMM cycling at summit sign

   

TOUR DE FRANCE

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 de la Croix de Fer has been featured in TdF 21 times.

©  PJAMMCycing.com

Visit our 2022 Tour de France page

It was on the Croix de Fer on Stage 18 (July 22) of the 1986 Tour de France that Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault distanced themselves from the all others and dueled for the stage win.  Hinault, in search of what would have been a record sixth Tour victory, was trying to make up three minutes lost the day earlier to Lemond on the Col d’Izoard on Stage 17.  He attacked on Col du Galibier and Croix de Fer but could not shake Lemond and the two crossed the line in the same time with Hinault winning the stage, but Lemond the tour.

Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - the iron cross, sky and mountain

Gino Bartali and Louison Bobet - Croix de la Fer TdF 1948.

Photo: Silvano Bottaro, Pinterest

Bicycling Col de la Croix de Fer, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Opinel knive at turnabout at start

Greg Lemond on the Croix de Fer in 1989 (his second of three TdF wins).

Photo:  Steve Selwood

Vincenzo Nibali took heat for looking back at disabled Froome on TdF 2015 Stage 19, then attacking.

Photo:  Albertnet.us

Wikipedia has a good summary of this popular pass:

“Col de la Croix de Fer (English: Pass of the Iron Cross) (el. 2067 m.) is a high mountain pass in the French Alps linking Le Bourg-d'Oisans and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.


The approach from the northeast from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is 29.5 km at an average gradient of 5.5% with some sections at 9.5%, and the one from the southwest from Rochetaillée 31.5 km at an average gradient of 5.75% with short sections in excess of 11%. When coming from Rochetaillée, the road forks 2.5 km before the summit, leading to the Col du Glandon. There is also an approach from the north from La Chambre via Col du Glandon which is the hardest: 22.7 km at an average gradient of 7.0% (this is the route used for the 2012 Tour de France).


The pass has featured in the Tour de France nineteen times since it was first passed in the 1947 tour when the race was led over the summit by Fermo Camellini. It was crossed on Stage 11 of the 2012 race, between Albertville and La Toussuire-Les Sybelles. In the 2015 race it was passed twice in the two finale mountain stages stage 19 between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire - Les Sybelles, and from the other side in stage 20 between Modane to Alpe d'Huez. The route for stage 20 was changed in June 2015 caused by a landslide in April so Col de la Croix de Fer substitutes both Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier.”  

Year

Stage

Category

Start

Finish

Leader at the summit

2017

17

HC

La Mure

Serre Chevalier

 Thomas De Gendt (BEL)

2015

20

HC

Modane

Alpe d'Huez

 Alexandre Geniez (FRA)

2015

19

HC

Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

La Toussuire-Les Sybelles

 Pierre Rolland (FRA)

2012

11

HC

Albertville

La Toussuire-Les Sybelles

 Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE)

2008

17

HC

Embrun

Alpe d'Huez

 Peter Velits (SVK)

2006

16

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

La Toussuire

 Michael Rasmussen (DEN)

1999

10

HC

Sestrières

Alpe d'Huez

 Stéphane Heulot (FRA)

1998

15

HC

Grenoble

Les Deux Alpes

 Rodolfo Massi (ITA)

1995

10

HC

AimeLa Plagne

Alpe d'Huez

 Richard Virenque (FRA)

1992

14

HC

Sestrières

Alpe d'Huez

 Eric Boyer (FRA)

1989

17

HC

Briançon

Alpe d'Huez

 Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED)

1986

18

1

BriançonSerre Chevalier

Alpe d'Huez

 Bernard Hinault (FRA)

1966

16

1

Bourg-d'Oisans

Briançon

 Joaquim Galera (ESP)

1963

16

1

Grenoble

Val-d'Isère

 Federico Bahamontes (ESP)

1961

10

1

Grenoble

Turin

 Guy Ignolin (FRA)

1956

18

1

Turin

Grenoble

 René Marigil (ESP)

1952

11

1

Bourg-d'Oisans

Sestrières

 Fausto Coppi (ITA)

1948

14

1

Briançon

Aix-les-Bains

 Gino Bartali (ITA)

1947

8

1

Grenoble

Briançon

 Fermo Camellini (ITA)

(Wikipedia - Col de la Croix de Fer).

Access to full Climb Summary requires a PJAMM Cycling PRO Membership!

It takes less than a minute to sign up & with your PRO membership you can:
  • Rate climbs, post comments and share your experiences on any of our climb pages
  • Create bucket lists of climbs & mark the dates you complete them
  • Weather data for all climbs - Start & Finish
  • Upload photos to your member page to customize your PJAMM Cycling experience
  • Utilize all of our interactive tools - Profile & Routes in Area
  • Download climb route .gpx files
Sign up for a PRO Membership

Already have an account? LOG IN HERE