A col that demands attention.
In the Savoie region of the Alps, the Madeleine delivers a high mountain pass with magnificent views. Although never a stage finish, it is renowned for its special appearances in the Tour de France.
From La Chambre, the southern way, the climb ascends 1522m in 19 kilometres.
A steady climb with an average 8% gradient (and max 12.5%), the road meanders through a deep shaded valley, then open-pastures to a ski-resort.
The history of the road begins with the Romans, linking the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys. It was first featured in the Tour, in 1969.
In passing through residential towns and working farms, the road continually retains its steepness.
After 10 km, with sections hugging the side of the mountain – the road opens-up with further long and gentle bends.
Less than 5 km from the top, Saint François Longchamp ski resort marks the beginning of the end. After a few turns, the buildings and trees disappear, providing some big views of the sky and the final corners above.
On a day without strong wind, the col de la Madeleine makes for an easy place to drink coffee and eat pizza, and enjoy the views before setting back off. You’ve earned it, and the views are beautiful.
Although reports site the top as 1996m, since the 2012 Tour, signposts mark the extra 4 metres included. Perhaps it is a taller sign?