Cycling Col de Marie Blanque from Escot (west)
Ride 9.2 kilometers gaining 711 meters at 7.7% average grade.
The route to Col de Marie Blanque from the west is the more popular route when the col is featured in the Tour de France. This is also the most difficult side to climb the col from, by far.
Legend has it that the col’s name dates back to the mid eighteenth century and Marie Asserquet, a renowned pale (white/blanque) skinned aurostère (an author and performer of improvised chants memorializing the dead). Friebe and Goding, Mountain Higher p. 46.
The eastern approach to the col from Beille (population 528) is the easiest by far at 11.1 kilometers/5.1% versus from Escot at 9.2 kilometers/7.7%.
Kilometer markers lead us up the climb.
The col first appeared in the Tour de France in 1978 when it dashed the repeat hopes of 1977 Tour champion Bernard Thevent:
“Tour de France: the race has passed 14 times. If the Pyrenees were the start of high altitude racing this one is a relative newcomer to the race with its first inclusion in 1978 and it wasn’t used again until 1986. Perhaps this was because it helped ruin Bernard Thévenet’s chances. The Frenchman had won the Tour in 1977 and was back the next year but ground to halt on this climb and needed a back wheel with a 24 sprocket.” inrng.com
Marie Blanque beat down Bradley Wiggins on Stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France leading to Wiggins stating ““This is just the mountain I don’t cope with very easily and it seems to defy analysis.” Wiggins lost 23 minutes on Andy Schleck that day, finishing 88th.