Col de Portet Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

13
FIETS
10 mi
DISTANCE
4,533 ft
GAINED
8.6 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Patrick YOU, France.

INTRO

Cycling Col de Portet - this is the highest ranked bike climb by difficulty in the Pyrenees and second overall in France (after Col de la Loze).  This brute was featured on Stage 17 of the 2018 Tour de France and will be again as Stage 17 finish on the 2021 TdF. 

Making its second appearance in the Tour de France as stage 16 finish July 14. See our 2021 Tour de France page for the best way to view and filter Tour de France stage routes and climbs that you have ever seen - guaranteed!

Tadej Pogacar (SLO) first to the summit on Stage 17 of the 2021 Tour de France (40 KOM points)
The average grade of Col de Portet is 8.6%.  44% (7.2 km) is at grade 5-10%, 31% (5 km) is at 10-15%, 6% (1 km) is at 15-20%, and 0.8% (100 meters) is at ≥10% grade.  The steepest 500 meters is 12.6% and steepest continuous two kilometers is 10.5%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Two paved lanes with a center stripe in excellent condition. 

Traffic:  Mild.

Parking:  On the right side of the road about 100 meters up from the start (MapStreet View) or in town in one of the parking areas (Map;  Street View).
There are restaurants in Vignec at the start of the climb, but no food along the route itself.  There is a water trough at  Eglise St Pierre de Soulan at kilometer five in the Village of Soulan - MapStreet View
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 the heart of the Pyrenees cycling world & there are many famed climbs within 25 km radius of Col de Portet, see Routes in Area Tool.  One option is to stay in Luz Saint Sauveur for this and other amazing bike climbs in the area.  See our Luz Saint Sauveur, France climb area page.  We love cycling in this area & you cannot go wrong choosing this as a destination to stay for a 7-10 day cycling trip.  If you do we would recommend the Pyrenees Cycling Lodge. Located in the beautiful medieval village of Saint Savin and hosted by Mark & Niamh, the Lodge is run by cyclists for cyclists. It is a great location for any cycling adventure in the Pyrenees with several renowned climbs within 100km of the property and 6 Tour de France climbs within 15km. Visit their website or contact them directly at pyreneescyclinglodge@gmail.com .

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CLIMB SUMMARY

brown cows graze in grassy along roadway, bike parked in center of them

Cycling Col de Portet - the King of the Pyrenees

Ride 16.3 kilometers gaining 1,405 meters at 8.6% average grade.

Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling’s John Johnson.

photo collage shows views along the climb, pastureland, mountain terrain, Tour de France sign

This climb is located in the Pyrenees Mountain Range which divides France from Spain.  Col de Portet is a World Top 200 Climb (#124), and rightly so.  We ride 16.4 km, gaining 1,599 m, to an elevation of 2,209 m at a challenging 8.6% average grade.  Along a one 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 . . . 😟).

The pronounced and dramatic lower hairpin of Col de Portet as seen riding up Col d’Azet; bike parked against hay bale

The pronounced and dramatic lower hairpin of Col de Portet as seen riding up Col d’Azet.

FIRST HALF OF THE CLIMB

bike parked against Tour de France sign at climb's start; Saint-Lary-Soulan

Climb begins in the very quaint and well kept Saint-Lary-Soulan (2019 population 844), elevation 791m.

The first 7.5 kilometers of Col de Portet overlaps with the more well known Pla d’Adet (included in 10 Tours de France as of 2022). Before coming to a 200 meter descent just before turning right onto the road to Col de Portet, the first 7.3 meters of the climb averages a rugged 9.3%.

Cycling Col de Portet - Pla d' Adet kilometer marker at start of climb

First 7.5 km of Pla d’Adet overlap Col de Portet.

photo collage shows segment of the climb between the beginning and Soulan; sign for Route du Col du Portet

Photos between climb start and Soulan (4.6 km).

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 a terrifying road for those with a fear of heights.  I had no trouble riding it on my bike but was terrified while driving it.  On the other hand, on our second trip to ride the Col, my wife had no trouble with the drive.  

Memorial to Raymond Poulidor

Memorial to Raymond Poulidor who finished second at age 38 in the 1974 TdF.

On the climb to Pla d’Adet Poulidor attacked and won the stage.

PJAMM Cycling climbed Col de Portet August 6, 2018 and July 14, 2022 -- exceptional experiences both times. This climb is a brute, cut directly into the slope of the mountain (2,215 meters/7,267 feet above sea level), and from our experience is rightly included in discussion of the hardest climbs in France.  The climb is paved to the top and in good condition, no doubt in large part due to its inclusion for the first time in the Tour de France on Stage 17 in 2018.  In addition to good road conditions, this climb offers breathtaking views from the start, and at the summit boasts “a spectacular 360-degree view of all the surrounding mountain peaks” (Dangerousroads.org), but boy is it a trek to get there.

SOULAN

town of Soulan 5.2 kilometers into the ride; old stone buildings; bike parked in front of a bear statue

Ride through Soulan at km 5.2.

PJAMM Cyclist fills water bottle at public fountain

UPPER SECTION (SECOND HALF) OF THE CLIMB

panoramic view of second half of this Pyrenees climb with hairpins pointed out

Upper section of the climb.

Turn right off of Route du Pla d’Adet at kilometer 7.2 and immediately climb through 14 hairpins on your way up 8.8 kilometers of a narrow Pyrenees farm road to the finish at an average grade of 8.3%.

panoramic view of hairpins snaking up the Pyrenees mountain climb

Hairpins after turning onto the lightly traveled road to Col de Portet.

photo collage shows views on final 8 kilometers of climb; switchbacks; Tour de France sign

Views along the final eight kilometers of the climb.

stone shepherds hut in green pastureland; cows grazing

Shepherd’s hut at km 10.2 on hairpin seven, after turning on the road to Col de Portet.

photo collage shows 50 meter tunnel near climb's finish

There is a very dark, but very fun, 50 meter tunnel a kilometer from the top of the climb - we suggest you bring a tail light to be safe.

THE TOP OF COL DE PORTET

bike parked in front of sign at climb's finish: Saint-Lary Col du Portet

This is the sign at the finish of our climb.

snack shack, port-o-potty, and benches/chairs at the finish

There is a snack shack, port-o-potty, and benches/chairs at the finish.

IN 2018, TOUR DE FRANCE INCLUDED COL DE PORTET FOR THE FIRST TIME

Tour de France signage

Consideration was given for Col de Portet to be included in the 1982 Tour de France, but that year the tour went only as far as the Pla d’Adet ski station, which is eight kilometers short of Col de Portet.  Fast forward 36 years and Col de Portet was finally seen in the TdF.

bike parked on road sign next to Tour de France sign

Col de Portet was the TdF Stage 17 finish on July 25, 2018.  While the stage was a very short 65 kilometers, 38 kilometers of that was uphill.  The stage began in Bagnères-de-Luchon, first climbed col de Peyresourde, and then Col de Val Louron-Azet, before reaching the much more challenging Col de Portet.  On July 25, Nairo Quintana broke away early on Col de Portet and won the stage.  On this day Chris Froome would lose more time (+1.35 v. .52) to Geraint Thomas, the ultimate winner of the 2018 Tour de France.

Cycling Col de Portet - Bagnères-de-Luchon - Start of TdF Stage 17, tour flags at hotel

Bagnères-de-Luchon - Start of TdF Stage 17.

The Col was again included in TdF 2021, Stage 17 on July 14.  That stage was won by 2020 and 2021 Tour Champion Tadej Pogačar.  Pogačar was of the opinion going into the 2021 tour that Stage 17 with its finish at Col de Portet would be the most difficult stage of the entire race.  On July 14 Pogačar dictated the pace up the climb and sprinted to the stage win, maintaining his five minute lead, which he held to the end of the tour for victory.  

Climbing Col de Portet by bike - Tour de France sign in Espiaube

TdF sign in Espiaube at km 7.5

Portet goes north and Pla d’Adet south here.

Cycling - Col de Portet - Tour de France 2018 - froome roadway marking

It was not to be in 2018.

Grades.JPG 

Rated the second most difficult bike climb in France  --  with a two kilometer segment averaging over 10%!  



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