Portrait of the Col du Tourmalet, the 16th stage of the Tour de France 2012 program

18 July, 2012 | Written by Recuperat-ion Recuperat-ion


Today, Wednesday, July 18th, riders of the Tour de France
will face a great day at the Pyrenees, after a well deserved day of rest. The supporters
hope to see a change in the race! Because of one good reason: four mountain passes
are scheduled for this long phase of 197 km, including the famous Col du
Tourmalet. The leader of the general classification, the English Bradley
Wiggins, will he falter?
Recuperat-ion draws for you a quick portrait of this cycling monument.
The Col du Tourmalet, located entirely in France, is the highest road pass
in the Pyrenees with its 2115 meters. Today, the riders begin the ascent by the
western side. From Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the climb is 18.3 km long, at an average
slope of 7.7%. Relatively steady, however, the ascent presents two difficult paths
between 9 and 10%, at the exit of the Barèges village at kilometer 7, and
especially during the last kilometer. At 5 kilometers from the summit, we can perceive
the Pic du Midi de Bigorre.
More than its profile, it is the beauty of this magical pass and history
that makes it a cycling myth! Even if it was used by different races since 1902,
the Tour de France passed by it for the first time in 1910. Since then, the
Tourmalet was included in the Tour 77 times, making it the pass most used by the
pack of cyclists. In 1913 Eugène Christophe wrote a legend page about this race
stage. When he was about to begin the descent of the Col, he broke his forks,
but did not resign. He shouldered his bike and walked the 14km to
Sainte-Marie-de-Campan village, to
reach the nearest forgery to repair his bike himself, before pursuing the tour.
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