It is the white sea at 1,909m. Mont Ventoux is epic. A giant that stands alone in the Provence region of Southern France, Mont Ventoux has made for some of the most dramatic backdrops for the Tour de France. With gradients between 7-10%, the 22km climb from Bédoin is one of cycling’s most talked about climbs. Its stark summit with oceanic limestone, heat haze and strong winds has taken the legs and last breaths of pro riders.
From Bédoin, the rolling terrain is marked by vineyards and Tuscan-like villas. Providing an ample amount of motivation and warm up, the views are vast with Mont Ventoux’s scale and lion-shaped back visible in the distance. A long ascending slope in the middle, this is not the first cycling article to warn of the tough section starting at Les Bruns. Here, the mythical mountain starts to show its madness. The road turns sharply into the forest, and at kilometre nine, the steep inclines last much too long.
There is a section of manicured shrubs with giant rocks; and at 16km, things ease with more switchbacks weaving through the trees. Or does it? From 8% to 5% to 9%, not really!
Finally, out of the trees with glimpses of the iconic white stone and telecommunications tower, you are riding with a renewed goal.
Long bends through the summits’ limestone with views of the tower ahead getting nearer; it
is then up past the café stop, le Vendran, for one final short and punchy test to the sign Summut du Ventoux — and a view you have been counting down the kilometres to see.
Col du Galibier
(Col du Lauteret)
A huge part of the Tour de France's history, and firmly regarded as one of the world's best climbs. There is only one word to summarise Galibier – 'iconic'.
A cycling journey like no other. This doesn't technically fit with the definition of "col" (mountain pass) but it does with the word "EPIC".