Col de la Madeleine (South) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling






Col de la Madeleine (South)

France

The more challenging but slightly less scenic side of this well known Col.

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Climb Summary


Cycling Col du Madeleiene - roadway and green fields with mountains in background

Col de Madeleine, South

A tale of two routes -- the southern approach of Col de Madeleine is very strenuous and a Top 100 World Climb, while the northern route is less difficult but extraordinarily beautiful. Although each is a little more of one than the other, both climbs are considered challenging and beautiful.  If one finds themselves in the French Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region and certainly in the Savoie Department of eastern France, this is simply a must-do set of climbs.  

Col de Madeleine is one of the many exceptional HC climbs in the Saint Jean-de-Maurienne area (in our opinion one of the greatest climbing areas in the world -- Col du Galibier, Col du Télégraphe, Col de L’Iseran, Col de Glandon, Alpe d’Huez).  Add that it has been featured in the Tour de France 26 times from 1969 (admittedly late on the scene) to 2018 (Stage 12 in 2018; and will be Stage 19 in 2019), and you have a true bucket list extraordinary climb!  

Bike climb of Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - water fountain and road sign in town square

It is commonly, yet  incorrectly,  reported that the Col de Madeleine passes over the Vanoise “Alps,” but the col is actually located within the Vanoise massif which is a mountain range in the Graian Alps located in the Western Alps. Along with Col de L’Iseran (the highest paved pass in the Alps) 35 straight line miles to the east, Col de Madeleine is the only pass across the Vanoise massif. One of the more difficult mountain climbs to appear in the Tour de France, it is also one of the newest.  The road was not paved until 1969, but its 26 inclusions in the Tour by definition make it one of the more famous mountain passes in France and the world.

The history of Col de Madeleine dates back to the 12th century Tamié Abbey, founded in 1132.  The col was also instrumental during the conquest of Savoie by French troops in 1792.

CYCLING COL DE MADELEINE FROM THE SOUTH (LA CHAMBRE)

Bike climb of Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - water fountain and road sign in town square

Start of climb.

Cycling Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - view of roadway and mountains

18.9 km gaining 1475 m at 7.9%.

Bike climb of Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - roadway and mountains

Nice scenery -- but not what you get on the north side.

Bicycle ride of Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - ski resort Longchamp with road, mountain and kilometer marker

Saint-Francois-Longchamp ski area at km 11.

Climb by bike Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - field and farm house

Above tree line at km 15 for final 4 km.

France greatest bike climbs Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - cafe at the col

Two cafes at the top.

Cycling the greatest bike climbs in France - Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - cafe with desert and cappuccino

Here’s to a job well done -- that’s one serving BTW!

Cycling the greatest climbs - Col de Madeleine from La Chambre  - cyclists with bike at col monument 

CYCLING COL DE MADELEINE FROM THE NORTH (LA LÉCHÈRE)

Bicycle ride of Col de Madeleine from La Léchère - start with roadway sign and bike

The less difficult but more scenic route.

Climbing Col de Madeleine from La Léchère by bike - roadway along canyon

24.4 km ascending 1,540 m at 6.2%.

France greatest bike climbs Col de Madeleine from La Léchère - view of village and roadway

Pass through several small villages along the way.

Bicycle ride up Col de Madeleine from La Léchère - view of Mont Blanc

View back to the north near top -- Mt. Blanc in background.

Cycling Col de Madeleine from La Léchère - km marker and roadway

Road markers every km along the climb.

Cycling Col de Madeleine from La Léchère - km marker and roadway

TOUR DE FRANCE HISTORY

David Millar faced his demons on Col du Madeleine stage 9, 2010.

Suffering the effects of a broken rib from an earlier crash, David Millar finished Stage 9 dead last (by a good margin -- the last group in front of him finished 4:55 back).  But the triumph of his story is not about his unfortunate time, but that in spite of all odds and adversity this proud and brave professional willed his way up the northern approach of the the col with the sole intention of avoiding elimination.  Nine years earlier in the 2001 tour, Millar had abandoned the tour on the Col du Madeleine.  It was due to that humiliation that he soon began EPO as the only option he saw to competing with the top tour riders of the time. Nine years later after admitting his offense and serving a two year ban from the sport, David Millar was competing in the tour again, not just as a professional cyclist on Team Garmin, but as an an ambassador for clean and drug free sports.  An honorable man and true professional.

Millar reached the base of his nemesis 35 minutes behind the leaders and in grave danger of being eliminated from the race.  However, instead of giving up, Millar dug deep, got in a rhythm and took on the hill in five kilometer increments.  Along the way, many fans lined the roadway, in spite of the true race having passed a half hour earlier.  The fans were not there out of pity, but rather, respect for David Millar, urging him up the mountain and on to the finish in Saint-Jean-de-Maurriene. David Millar was 181st and last in Stage 9, but he went on to complete the 2010 TdF, finishing 157th of 169 finishers.  He exorcised his demon on that day on Col du Madeleine and went on to complete the next three Tour de France races, finishing as high as 76th in 2011 and winning stage 12 of the 2012 Tour.

The King of the Mountains is a secondary competition of the Tour de France.  First included in the Tour in 1933, it has been symbolized by red and white polka dotted jerseys since 1975.  Two men have won three Mountains Classifications that have included Col de Madeleine (HC) - Richard Virenque (an unprecedented seven between 1994 and 2004) and Lucien Van Impe, Belgium (six between 1971 and 1983).

Mountain King Richard Virenque on Col de Madeleine.

Photo:  extraite de Grands Cols / Tana Editions © Presse-Sports published in Linternaute.com

Col de Madeleine was the end of Cadel Evans’ bid for his first Tour de France victory in 2010 (he won the Tour in 2011) as he suffered from a broken elbow incurred the day before in a crash on the 8th Stage.  Beginning Stage 9 in the yellow jersey, Evans could not keep up with his rivals Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck (Schleck is the winner of that year’s tour after Contador was disqualified for an anti-doping violation). Evans led Schleck by 20 seconds at the beginning of Stage 9, but finished 8:09 back, dropping to 18th overall (he bravely finished the 2010 Tour, finishing 26th, 50:27 behind Contador, and 51:06 behind Schleck).

Cadel Evans, Col de Madeleine - Stage 9 2010 Tour de France.

Photo - Daily Telegraph, AU

2010 TdF Stage 9.

APPEARANCES OF COL DE LA MADELEINE IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE

This mountain pass has been included in the Tour de France more than one-half the years since it first opened in 1969.

Year

Stage

Category

Start

Finish

Leader at the summit

2013

19

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

Le Grand-Bornand

 Pierre Rolland (FRA)

2012

11

HC

Albertville

La Toussuire-Les Sybelles

 Peter Velits (SVK)

2010

9

HC

Morzine-Avoriaz

Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

 Anthony Charteau (FRA)

2005

11

HC

Courchevel

Briançon

 Santiago Botero (COL)

2004

17

HC

Bourg d'Oisans

Le Grand-Bornand

 Gilberto Simoni (ITA)

2002

16

HC

Les Deux Alpes

La Plagne

 Michael Boogerd (NED)

2001

10

HC

Aix-les-Bains

Alpe d'Huez

 Laurent Roux (FRA)

2000

15

HC

Briançon

Courchevel

 Massimiliano Lelli (ITA)

1998

16

HC

Vizille

Albertville

 Jan Ullrich (GER)

1997

14

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

Courchevel

 Richard Virenque (FRA)

1996

7

HC

Chambéry

Les Arcs

 Richard Virenque (FRA)

1995

10

HC

La Plagne

Alpe d'Huez

 Richard Virenque (FRA)

1994

17

1

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

Val Thorens

 Piotr Ugrumov (LAT)

1990

11

HC

Saint-Gervais

Alpe d'Huez

 Thierry Claveyrolat (FRA)

1988

12

1

Morzine

Alpe d'Huez

 Henri Abadie (FRA)

1987

21

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

La Plagne

 Anselmo Fuerte (ESP)

1984

18

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

La Plagne

 Pedro Delgado (ESP)

1983

18

HC

Le Bourg-d'Oisans

Morzine

 Lucien Van Impe (BEL)

1981

19

1

Morzine

Alpe d'Huez

 Lucien Van Impe (BEL)

1980

17

HC

Serre-Chevalier

Morzine

 Mariano Martínez (FRA)

1979

17

HC

Les Menuires

Alpe d'Huez

 Lucien Van Impe (BEL)

1977

17

1

Chamonix

Alpe d'Huez

 André Chalmel (FRA)

1975

17

1

Valloire

Morzine-Avoriaz

 Francisco Galdós (ESP)

1973

8

2

Moûtiers

Les Orres

 Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (FRA)

1969

10

2

Chamonix

Briançon

 Andrés Gandarias (ESP)

Wikipedia - Col de la Madeleine

Grades for southern route

Grades for northern route