Cycling Col du Grand Colombier, France
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.
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:
The route to the col from Coluz (1 of 4) is the most popular route.
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).
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.
There are some magnificent views of the Rhône and Lac du Bourget just to the east of it.
Kilometer markers guide the way to the top.
We climbed Col du Grand Colombier from all four sides in 2018 and found the route from Culoz to be the most scenic.
Finish overlooking the Rhône.
The climb from Artemere is the most difficult ascent to Col du Grand Colombiere.
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.
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 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.