Col de Portet Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

12.8
FIETS
10 mi
DISTANCE
4,500 ft
GAINED
8.5 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Patrick YOU, France.

TOUR DETAILS & STATS
2021 Tour de France

INTRO

Cycling Col de Portet - this is the highest ranked bike climb by difficulty in the Pyrenees and France. 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!
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

 

Cycling Col de Portet - the King of the Pyrenees

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

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!

This climb is located in the Pyrenees Mountain Range which divides France from Spain.  Col de Portet  is a World 100 (#79) 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 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 by bike -  Col de Portet - Beginning of Climb - Vignec - cyclist riding bike

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).

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

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.

PJAMM Cycling climbed Col de Portet August 6, 2018 -- and what an experience it was.  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 rightly sits atop 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.

This climb is located in the Southwestern French community of Saint-Lary-Soulan, in the Hautes-Pyrénées area.  If you can make it past the 7 to 10% average grades to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view at the summit and then sent on your way with a “pleasant descent [which] will take you back to picturesque Saint-Lary” (Dangerousroads.org).  To get to the summit, you can choose one of three routes: the 17.8 kilometer (11 mile) ascent from Saint-Lary-Soulan with an average grade of 7.9%; the 14.31 kilometer (8.9 mile) ascent from Aspet with an average grade of 4.2%; or the 18.14 kilometer (11.3 mile) ascent from Audressein, with an average percentage of 3.1%.

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

Ride through Soulan at km 5.2

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

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 included Col de Portet in 2018 for the first time.

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 8 km short of Col de Portet.  Fast forward 36 years and Col de Portet was finally seen in the TdF.

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 and 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

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 most difficult bike climb in France  --  one 2 km segment averaging over 10%!