One of the mythic rides of the Tour de France, the Col de l’Izoard is going to be one of the greatest moments of the 2017 Tour edition.
Situated in the French Hautes Alpes departement, the mountain pass offers some unique landscapes like the Casse Déserte, a moon-like lansdcape with spiky rock pinnacles and barren scree slopes. This landscape is often featured in the iconic 1940s black-and-white photos of the race.
This climb is usually classified as “Hors catégorie” climb. This is the most difficult type of climb in the race. The five categories go from 4 (the easiest) to 1 (the most difficult), plus “hors catégorie” which are not only the most difficult ones, but also play an important role in the final ranking.
The Col de l’Izoard begins in Guillestre and is about 31,5 km long. The average grade is 6,9%, while the maximum slope is 12%. The altitude at the starting point is 1266 meters, and at the top 2361 meters (total ascent: 1095 meters).
A little history
The Col de l’Izoard was featured for the first time in 1922. The Belgian racer Philippe Thys was the first one to conquer the pass.
Other famous moments of the Tour on the Izoard includes the 1949 race, when Gino Bartali asked Fausto Coppi to let him win the stage as a birthday gift.
Another legend of the Tour de France is Louison Bobet‘s ascent of the Col de l’Izoard in 1953. Bobet’s set-piece attack in stage 18 took him from third place in the GC, more than three minutes behind, to an 8 minute 35 second lead. He won the Tour in 1953, but also in 1954 and 1955!
Bernard Thévenet took the Yellow Jersey during stage 15 of the 1975 Tour de France, following Eddy Merckx’s dramatic défaillance. That evening Bobet told Thévenet that he must be first over the Izoard in the Yellow Jersey. Thévenet won the stage alone, more than three minutes ahead of Merckx.
At the top of the Col de l’Izoard you can now find a memorial dedicated to both Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet, right after the Casse Déserte.
The 2017 Tour de France
This year again the Tour de France will climb this mythical mountain pass during the stage in the Alps.
The Tour will arrive in the Alps on July 18th for three unique stages:
- July 19: La Mure – Serre Chevalier
- July 20: Briançon – Izoard
- July 21: Embrun – Salon de Provence
There will also be a quick stop in the Alps in the middle of the Tour, precisely on July 9th with a ride from Nantua to Chambéry.
Here is a short video to sum up some of the most memorable moments of the Tour on the Izoard, enjoy!