Col du Grand Colombier (Anglefort) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

9.7
FIETS
9.4 mi
DISTANCE
3,917 ft
GAINED
7.9 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

This is the most difficult route of 4 to Col du Grand Colombiere and #15 in France.

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CLIMB SUMMARY

photo shows curved one-lane mountain roadway

Cycling Col du Grand Colombier, France

 photo collage shows KOM bike statue, sign for col du Grand Colombier   

This is the route to the col that the Tour de France used in 2012 when it was featured for the first time.  Of the four routes to the col, the ascent from Culoz is #3 in difficulty with route from Artemare the most difficult and steepest.

roadsigns read "Le Grand Colombier," "la route de Bugey," and Gite Etape le Cabiolon"

The climb begins just north of Culoz by riding north up Route du Grand Colombier (D120).

Col de Colombiere is the most difficult bike climb in the Jura Mountain range. The Jura mountains run in an arc along the eastern edge of central France and the western edge of Switzerland.  To orient ourselves very generally using Lake Geneva as a reference point, the mountain range starts in France to the southwest of Lake Geneva and arcs above Lake Geneva, ending to the northeast of it.  Here is a crude PJAMM Cycling effort at marking the mountain range:

mountain range including Col du Grande Colombier marked off

photo collage shows sign for col du gd Colombier Ouvert; views along roadway, and KOM polka-dotted bike statue

The route to the col from Coluz (1 of 4) is the most popular route.

photo collage shows lots of green grasses and trees along roadway, yellow wildflowers, sign for Col du Grand Colombier

This mountain range is home to some of the most difficult bike climbs in Europe outside of the Pyrenees and Alps.  Little known in the U.S., this mountain range is poised to burst onto the climbing scene, if it has not already done so. Col du Grand Colombier initially became well known to cyclists via the Tour de l'Ain (a late season professional cycling race held generally in eastern France).

switchback on mountain roadway shows green mountainside views and painted roadway

While the Tour de France has propelled Grand Colombier to worldwide fame, it was well known France before 2012 due to its frequent appearances in the Tour de l'Ain as well as the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de l'Avenir.

views along the climb include Rhone river and Lac du Bourget

There are some magnificent views of the Rhône and Lac du Bourget just to the east of it.

photo collage shows green and white kilometer marker signs along climb route

Kilometer markers guide the way to the top.

photo collage shows scenic views along climb: green mountainsides, rock faces, switchback turns

We climbed Col du Grand Colombier from all four sides in 2018 and found the route from Culoz to be the most scenic.  

photo collage shows bike parked against large rock at climb finish overlooking the Rhone

Finish overlooking the Rhône.

road signs warn of 19% grade and falling rock 

The climb from Artemere is the most difficult ascent to Col du Grand Colombiere.

single lane roadway surrounded by dense tree forestation on both sides   

Photo from Anglefort route.

From Anglefort we are surrounded by trees much of this climb.  The Anglefort route intersects the route from Culoz at kilometer 6.2 and thereafter the two routes share the last 8.8 km, 610m ascent at 8% average grade.

road signs at the intersection of the Anglefort and Coloz routes up Col du Grand Colombier 

Intersection of Anglefort and Culoz routes.

The route to the Col from Lochieu intersects Artemere at kilometer 7 (Point de vue du Colombier). As with the other routes to the Col, we are surrounded by trees much of this climb.

TOUR DE FRANCE HISTORY

Col du Grand Colombier was the mountaintop finish of Stage 13 of the 2023 TdF

Photo:  Letour.fr

Col du Grand Colombier was first featured in the Tour in 2012.  Bradley Wiggins was the overall winner that year and Thomas Voeckler was King of the Mountains.  Voekler won Stage 10 of the tour which included Col du Grand Colombier.  Colombier was the first HC of the six in the 2012 TdF.  Voelker won stage 10 and donned the polka dot jersey that day.

Thomas Voelker winning Stage 10 2012 Tour de France.

Photo:  Christophe Ena/Associated Press

The Tour has featured Grand Colombier in 2012, 2016, 2017, 2020 (Pogacar first to the top), and it will be included in the 2023 Tour.

2020 Tour winner Tadej Pogacar won Stage 15 of the 2020 Tour by four seconds over tour leader Primož Roglic, but was still 40 seconds behind, in second place.  It wasn’t until four stages later that Pogacar sealed his legend in Tour lore by destroying the field on La Planche des Belles Filles in an individual time trial where he gained the yellow jersey and ultimately won the 2020 TdF.

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