Tour de France 2014 – Stage 7

Bonette times two

On the list as mandatory climb to obtain the ‘brevet des 7 cols de l’Ubaye’, I took on the Bonette on our first day here.

You know, to get it out of the way.

But just because I can, I made that two Bonettes, as I also tackled the approach from the south…

The Bonette is proudly announced as ‘Europe’s highest pass’ on just about every sign from bottom to top, but the Cime is just an artificial loop, much like a round about.

The natural pass height, while respectable at 2,715 meters, is well below the Iseran, Stelvio and Agnel…

I estimated that within the time limit of no longer than 6 hours ‘en route’ in total, I would be able to climb the Bonette from both ends.

But I would have to scrap the detour to the summit of the Lombarde.

Which  would have made this stage another insane one anyway – the Lombarde from Isola is over 20 kilometers long, at an average of 7.3%…

The Cime was closed coming from my end – i.e. continuing counterclockwise – because of snow, but the other end was open.

This made it a bit more difficult to ride, with traffic going both ways. At the summit, it was actually surprisingly busy, but the views are breathtaking, similar to the ones on the Galibier.

The descend is not very technical, but I didn’t go down full speed – no need to increase the chance to crash. Still, it’s fun to go (that) fast in a not too difficult descend every now and then.

And at least the flies are not bothering you – during my first climb, I had a halo of flies the whole fracking ascent. Usually, these creatures from hell disappear around the 2,000 meter mark…

We had lunch in a crowded Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée, after which I started the ascend from the south side.

With just over 25 kilometers, this climb is actually around 2.5 kilometers longer than the one from the north, at a marginally lower average grade (6.6% against 6.9%).

By the time I got past the former military settlements, going into the (wide) open area towards the summit, I was depleting my energy reserves faster than I could replenish them.

I didn’t have the energy left – nor did I feel the urge/need to do so, as I had already done it earlier – to cycle up the steep end of the Cime again.

I followed the original route over the pass’ summit and descended back to Jausiers…

Trip: 96.3 km / 3,017 m elevation gain.

Bonette info page here

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 7: Bonette