Col l'Iseran

(Bourg-St-Maurice)

France

The highest paved pass in Europe, featured regularly in world tour races and with iconic vistas, this is an iconic climb to add to the bucket list.

It starts in Bourg-St-Maurice some 44km from the summit. You’ll climb 2240m with an average gradient of 4.6%, making this a long sustained climb. However the average gradient is manageable. Settle in for a long sustained effort.

The initial section follows a meandering and busy main road passing through Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise.

The dam on Lac du Chevril as you approach the ski resort of Tignes.

As the road flattens on the way upto Val d'Isère there are long dark tunnels with minimal space for cyclists.

Looking back down on the Ski resort of Val d'Isère.

Although by now you’ve been climbing for a solid 30km or so, it is after Val d'Isère that the climb you’ve been dreaming of or seen in magazines really begins. Unpassable during the winter months you’re now at over 2000m with just under 800 vertical meters to go.

Morning light illuminates the Pont-Saint-Charles.

The business end, the switchbacks start and the gradient increases.

Huge reveals and classically alpine stone walls making up the sides of the switchbacks.

It's easy to be mislead and to feel like you're nearing the top of the climb. There are many false summits even mini cols to pass.

The final valley floor. The road snaking past the lake before hitting the final switchbacks and the summit.

The summit in sight.

If you're looking for more vertical meters, go up and over to Bonneval-St-Arc. You'll get to ride the prettiest part of riding from the other direction making for one epic day. (see article)