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Header image for climb Col du Galibier

Col du Galibier

(Col du Télégraphe)

France

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The most stringent (road bike) col on the French mainland – Col du Galibier is iconic. It is deemed to be a 'top 5' of world climbs, and is favoured by teams for pre Tour training.

The route to Col du Telegraphe is encapsulated by trees.

Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier

Col du Telegraph: once at the top, there is a restaurant for coffee and to fill your bottles. It is then a 4km descent to the beginning of the main event; therefore, losing 165m vertical before climbing it all again. It is hard to really enjoy it, knowing you’ll have to earn those metres back.

From the ski resort of Valloire, the next 10km are with wide bends and long views between 2% - 9% gradients. Not much to write home about here. However, once out of the treeline and nearing the 8km to go marker, the road conspicuously turns up the side of the mountain and the notorious Galibier battleground starts to unfold.

Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier

The landscape is weathered.

And there is a fast section.

Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier

Persistently steep – with views of where this climb is going.

Cycling climb Col du Galibier

At 1km to go, there is an option to take the tunnel straight-on to the other side of the mountain. Perhaps that might be tempting since it is 2556m altitude with over 100m yet to climb. But is that really an option?!

Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier

AG2r rider

In 1911 only three riders made it to the top (without walking their bikes) – perhaps, a vital reckoning when 'cycling became struggling', and vice versa.

Cycling climb Col du Galibier
Cycling climb Col du Galibier