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Colle de la Lombarde
This is a gorgeous climb up through a tight canyon to the Italian/French border. The climb begins in the heart of an exceptional bike climbing area which is host to several Top 20 Italian road bike climbs (Fauniera from Demonte, Pradleves, and Marmore, Colle di Sampeyre, and Colle dell'Agnello - the start of each is within an unbelievable radius of 10 miles - Map).
This climb is very popular and we encountered many cyclists on our early monday morning ascent August, 2016. There is a nice grouping of 12 true tornanti for 1.4 miles / 2.3 km at the beginning of the climb. Although not shown on Google Maps, we follow, or are in sight of, a stream much of the first half of the climb (hey, these steep canyon walls didn’t happen over night, after all . . . ).
This is a narrow road and more vehicular traffic than we normally encountered on the narrow, often remote, mountainous Italian roads where the top climbs are located. Regardless, this is a spectacular and highly recommended climb for those in, or travelling to, the Piedmont Region of Italy.
Climb starts at SS 21 and SP 55 This is a popular climb
View east towards Vinadio It’s there if you need it . . .
No Italian climb would be complete without tornanti
On our way up the canyon - about half way
Looking back at the middle set of tornanti - mile/km 7.5 / 12.1
Turn at mile 8 / km 12.8
On the way to the Pass - it is in the notch in the background of the photos
The border of Italy and France.
TDF Stage 16 (Wikipedia) 22 July 2008 — Cuneo (Italy) to Jausiers, 157 km
“The race returned to France on this short stage, via the Hors Categorie Col de la Lombarde and Col de la Bonette (the highest pass in Europe at over 2,800 m altitude), before a descent of more than 20 km.
Five riders, Samuel Dumoulin, Christophe Le Mével, Sebastien Rosseler, and former classification leaders Stefan Schumacher and Thomas Voeckler came clear of the peloton after 42 kilometers. Twenty-four riders also came clear as a chase shortly thereafter, splitting the field well before the climb up the Col de la Lombarde began. Riders were dropped and attacked from the various groups and the field split into numerous fragments, until Schumacher was the only leader left. He stayed well clear of the trailing groups and actually gained time to be the first over the Lombarde. The others from the breakaway, aside from Schumacher, were eventually absorbed by the chases.
The field split even more on the way up the Col de la Bonette, to the point where it was difficult to call any particular group the peloton. Christian Vande Velde was the first GC contender to be dropped from the yellow jersey group, cracked by the pacemaking being done by Andy Schleck. A chase group paced by Cyril Dessel and Yaroslav Popovych caught Schumacher some 3 kilometers before the summit of the Bonette. John-Lee Augustyn, attacked from this group shortly before the summit and was the first to reach the top. He later skidded off the road and tumbled down a steep decline on the dirt beside it, losing his bike. He had no choice but to wait for a service car with a spare machine, and thus lost the chance to rejoin the leading group.
The leading group was whittled to four on the descent - Popovych, Dessel, David Arroyo and Sandy Casar. Denis Menchov was dropped from the yellow jersey group early on in the descent, and lost time. This brought Cadel Evans forward to make the pace in the yellow jersey group, to put as much time as possible between them and Menchov, since Menchov was likely Evans' biggest threat in the individual time trial that was to come and thus in all likelihood, for the Tour title itself. Popovych tried to open the sprint at just over 1 kilometer to go, but the others got him back. Dessel eventually took down the run to the line.”
Giro 2016 Stage 20 - 28 May 2016
“The Italian started stage 20 to Sant'Anna di Vinadio 44 seconds down on maglia rosa Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) but made up the deficit on the penultimate climb with a long-range attack after cracking all his major rivals, including the Colombian.
Rein Taaramae (Team Katusha) won the stage after surviving from the day’s early break, the Estonian somewhat making up for the fact that his team leader Ilnur Zakarin crashed out 24 hours previously.
The day, and ultimately the maglia rosa, belongs to Nibali, who came into the final mountain stages almost five minutes in arrears. He cut that to under a minute after winning stage 19 but on the penultimate stage before Turin’s flat encounter, he still had to crack Chaves, who had inherited pink after Steven Kruijswijk's (Team LottoNl-Jumbo) untimely stage 19 crash.
And Nibali pulled it off, first having his team set a near-relentless pace on the Colle della Lombarda, before attacking himself with two brutal accelerations. The first could only be matched by Chaves and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) but the second, while seated and with Chaves on his wheel, broke the Colombian’s brave resistance.
With constant time checks coming through the radio and with Tanel Kangert - who had been called back from the early break - for company Nibali slowly but surely opened a significant gap.
Chaves held on for as long as he could, and even had support from countryman Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) but when the Orica rider failed to even follow that wheel, the writing was on the wall. A second group containing Rafa Majka and Bob Jungels caught Chaves just before the summit, giving a sliver of hope that Nibali could be curtailed on the descent but it wasn’t to be.
Spurred on by the tifosi as the race re-entered Italy, Nibali provided another memorable display. He crossed the line in sixth but Chaves was still losing ground and eventually came in nearly a minute and a half down and slipped to second, 52 seconds off Nibali’s new race lead.
Valverde, who has never quite been able to stamp any authority on this year’s Giro d’Italia at least demonstrated his skills in stage race management and limited his losses to Nibali. He briefly rode with Chaves and Uran before moving clear with the Cannondale rider before the summit of the Colle della Lombarda. The pair came in just 13 seconds adrift of Nibali – a fact that will tear at Orica’s hearts had their climber been able to only just hold them on the climb.
Steven Kruijswijk - who just two days ago looked almost unbreakable in the leader’s jersey - was unable to respond to Nibail’s surges. He looked comfortable when Tinkoff and then Astana, courtesy of Jakob Fuglsang and Michele Scarponi, set a furious tempo, but was found wanting when his rivals played out for the podium places.
He eventually dropped another place, to fourth, with Valverde moving up and onto the final podium position.
Just two days ago Nibali considered retiring from the race. With a day to go he is on course to win his second Giro, and his fourth Grand Tour.”
This incredible road has also been featured in “Dangerous Roads” but we found this climb to be comfortable on a bike and seemed safe enough . Quote from Dangerous Roads:
“The road that crosses the pass, by both sides, is tightly hairpinned, with some steep sections, very narrow, and impassable for 2 cars at the same time, but the surface isn't really bad. Seeing recreational vehicles up to the pass is not uncommon. There are some signs of WW2 defenses near the top.The pass is usually open throughout the summer to vehicles.”