Luz Saint Sauveur - Top Bike Climbs

#1
Col de Portet
France
#2
Col du Tourmalet - Luz-Saint-Sauveur
France
#3
Col du Tourmalet - Campan
France
#4
Col de Trammasel (Hautacam)
France
#5
Hautacam
France
#6
Col d'Aubisque - Eaux-Bonnes
France
#7
Luz Ardiden
France
#8
Cirque de Troumouse
France
#9
Col de Tentes (Cirque de Gavarnie)
France
#11
Col du Soulor - Ferrières
France

Climb List: Luz Saint Sauveur, France
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling Luz Saint Sauveur, France

Climbing Col du Tourmalet by bike - drone aerial photo of col - cyclists, restaurant, statue, Le Géant, col sign

Summit of Col du Tourmalet from above on south side.

The Argeles-Gazost and Luz Saint-Sauveur area of the French Pyrenees has one of the greatest concentrations of famous Tour de France bike climbs of any other area of France. We have travelled to the Pyrenees three times to document the top climbs there, and have always stayed in Argeles Gazost for at least two days (once staying five, and another three days).  Argeles Gazost-Luz Saint-Sauveur is one of our favorite areas in the world to ride in.

THE MOST FAMOUS CLIMB IN THE

ARGELES GAZOST-LUZ SAINT-SAUVEUR AREA

COL DU TOURMALET 

FEATURED 86 TIMES IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE

Why is Tourmalet our top pick out of all the magnificent cycling climbs in this area and France?

  • Stunning scenery,
  • Steeped in history: Featured 83 times in the Tour de France as of 2019,
  • Challenge: This is the #6 most difficult bike climb in France (#122 world),
  • Altitude: Col du Tourmalet is the highest pass in the Pyrenees,
  • The neighborhood: Tourmalet is in the top World Bike Climbing Area Luz Saint Sauveur
  • Fame: One of the four most famous bike climbs in the world (along with Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux and Stelvio),
  • Popularity: Cyclists crawl up the pass likes ants up an anthill -- together with Alpe d’Huez, Ventoux and Stelvio, you will have no more company on a bike climb than on this one.

 

Octave Lapize -- the first rider (or should we say hiker?) over Tourmalet, 1910.

Photo:  Cycling Passion, Octave Lapize walks over the Col du Tourmalet.

Eugène Christophe repairing his bike in Campan, 1913 (Image from Jean Durry).

YouTube summary of Christophe’s 1913 bad luck.

In 1919, Eugène Christophe became the first man to wear the yellow jersey. 

THE HARDEST CLIMB IN THE

ARGELES GAZOST-LUZ SAINT-SAUVEUR AREA

COL DE PORTET 

FEATURED ONLY ONCE IN THE TOUR DE FRANCE (2018)

This climb is located in the Pyrenees Mountain Range, which divides France from Spain.  This bike climb is a World 100 (#78) and rightly so.  We ride 16.4 km gaining 1,599 m to an elevation of 2,209m at a challenging 8.6% average grade. Col de Portet is a brute, cut directly into the slope of the mountain (2,215 meters/7,267 feet above sea level), and from our experience rightly sits atop the hardest climbs in France.  The climb is paved to the top and in good condition, no doubt in large part due to its inclusion for the first time in the Tour de France on Stage 17 in 2018.  In addition to good road conditions, this climb offers breathtaking views from the start, and at the summit boasts “a spectacular 360-degree view of all the surrounding mountain peaks” (Dangerousroads.org), but boy is it a trek to get there. 

THE MOST EPIC CLIMB IN THE

ARGELES GAZOST-LUZ SAINT-SAUVEUR AREA

COL D'AUBISQUE 

OUR FAVORITE CYCLING SEGMENT OF MOUNTAIN ROAD IN FRANCE

The Col d’Aubisque bike climb is one of the most famous of climbs in the French Pyrenees and France.  Aubisque first appeared in the Tour de France in 1910 and has been included 92 times in all (as of 2019) and 48 times between 1947 and 2012 (it has been ignored for the past seven years as of the publication of this page February 2019).  The climb was included 12 years straight after its post-war inauguration in 1947 and has been a stage finish three times, which is fairly significant for a pass.  For the 24 years between 1947-1970, the Aubisque was included in the Tour all but three years.  The pass was also included once (2016) in the Vuelta a Espan֘a.  

 

Stage 10 TdF 1911.  Photo:  bikeraceinfo.com (an exceptional resource for all Grand Tours).

We rode this route in 2011 and 2018 . . . guess what . . . still the same. 👍

Same cliff, same mountain, same tunnel, over 100 years later.

Aubisque is our choice for Top TdF Nostalgic Climb.

The descent from Eaux Bonnes (western approach) towards Col du Soulor was and is a dangerous route -- a narrow road with sheer cliffs. On Stage 13, July 17, 1951, this hazardous stretch of road was the scene of one of the most horrific and famous crashes in Tour history.  The unlikely leader on this day was the pleasant and good natured Dutchman Wim van Est.  This Tour included pure and true cycling legends Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, and Louison Bobet.  While van Est was an accomplished pursuit racer, he was never expected to compete for the overall classification in the greatest of the Grand Tours.  Nonetheless,  on July 26 during stage 12, Van Est, who started the day over nine minutes behind leader Roger  Levêque, broke away, won the stage and found himself in the yellow jersey by :02:29.

Cycling Col d'Aubisque  from Argeles Gazost - aerial drone photo from ravine of roadway and tunnel

A deadly road.

However, winning the flat Stage 12 by using his specialty sprint to gain time on the peloton is one thing, but a sprinter holding a slim lead over the Aubisque would be quite another.  And so it was that Van Est had lost his lead as he summited the mighty Aubisque and set about to regain some of what he had lost.  However, the narrow and windy road descending from Col d’Aubisque towards Col du Soulor is a poor choice for downhill heroics.  And so it was that he fell and tumbled 70 meters down and nearly sheer mountainside. It was not just the fall that remains in our memories from this day, but the way Van Est was extricated from his predicament: that he was still alive and able to climb up the mountain back to the road under his own power.

Photo:  Edwin Seldenthus as published in velopeloton.com.