Cycling the Col d'Izoard (2361m) - Tour de France Giant

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Friday, 28 August 2015

Cycling the Col d'Izoard (2361m) - Tour de France Giant

A frequent feature in the Tour de France, the fearsome Col d'Izoard (2361m) was our target the day after our visit to the nearby Col Agnel. Starting from Chateau Queyras we would be ascending the steeper, southern ascent of the col which covers 15.9km at an average gradient of 7%, rising from 1095m to 2361m with the steepest section at 12%! But if a 7% average gradient wasn't scary enough, we would later find out that the kilometre running from 3km to 2km to the col was actually 'flat' overall (i.e. 500m uphill and 500m downhill) and there were plenty of section of 5 - 7% as well, meaning that there were equally long and tough sections at 8 - 10%.

But with amazing views, especially through the famous Casse desert, and plenty of other riders taking on the challenge we still had a great time, even though it was one of the hardest rides we've ever tried. It's easy to see why this hors categories climb has featured more than 30 times in the Tour de France over the years.  Arriving at the summit with the monumental summit marker was a happy moment, with a touch of relief, beneath the bright blue sky.


Eager to be off in Chateau Queyras....


The climbing begins.....


Heading out of Brunissard with 10% coming up....


Amazing hairpins with around 7km to go....


Nearly there.....probably?


No-one told us about this flat section!


Made it!


Iconic monument at the highest point...





Enjoying incredible views north and south from the summit....


Almost time to head back down....


The descent begins...note the smiley face.


Back through the Casse Desert


I'm ready for this! Real post-ride nutrition. 

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