Col de la Croix de Fer North Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Col de la Croix de Fer North

France

Legendary climb ending at the Iron Cross.

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Climb Summary


Cycling Col de la Croix de Fer North (Saint-Étienne-de-Cuines)

Ride 23 kilometers gaining 1609 meters at 6.9% average grade.

This is a wonderful and scenic climb near Saint Jean-de-Maurienne, which we consider to be the center of one of the great climbing areas of the world (Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne). There are three routes to the Col de la Croix de Fer (name means “Pass of the Cross”) and we have charted those in the “Routes in Area” selection for this Climb Page. The northern approach to this pass is by far the most difficult of the three. The climb is often featured in, and thus made famous by, the Tour de France.

Bike climb of Col de la Croix de Fer, North - roadway sign at start

Climb begins in Saint-Etienne-de-Cuines.

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:

  • 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 de la Croix de Fer, North - Col du Glandon km 1 marker

Overlap Col du Glandon for the first 19.6 km.

Climbing Col de la Croix de Fer, North by bike - Col de la Croix de km marker

Final 3.5 km is strictly Croix de Fer.

Bicycle ride Col de la Croix de Fer, North - PJAMM cyclist at col sign

TOUR DE FRANCE

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

Photo: Silvano Bottaro, Pinterest

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.

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

Col de la Croix de Fer has appeared in the Tour de France 19 times between 1947 and 2017 (see bottom of page for details).

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”  (Wikipedia - Col de la Croix de Fer).

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)