Exploring the climbs and passes for my Tour de France 2021, I’ve started with those in and close to our base camp, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
In an earlier post, I’ve covered (most of) the possibilities starting close to our doorstep, not requiring a car transfer before getting on my bike.
In this post, like in the previous, I’ll cover (some of) the possibilities a bit further away, which are still within reach, but for which I may opt for a car transfer before getting on my bike.
Today, I’ll turn my focus outside the north-eastern end of the Maurienne valley, past Albertville, into the Beaufort valley.
Beaufort is probably best know for its cheese, but it also at the foot of the western climb up the Col du Pré and Cormet de Roselend.
I’ve done the climb from the east, starting in Bourg-Saint-Maurice during my Tour de France 2014 (stage 2).
On the upside, this was the only time I got close to Contador, Froome and others, as they flew by the junction we had been forced to stop at.
And spent 40 minutes waiting before they did, then descended the rest of the way via the D70/D218B, instead of waiting 40 minutes more for the rest of the caravan to pass…
By the time I finished my coffee/sandwich break, it was pouring down and I pitied the fools who were getting up the Roselend from inside the car.
Cormet de Roselend
This is quite a formidable climb, from either end.
From Beaufort, the “standard” route is just over 20 kms long, at an average of 6.1% but most of it is between 7 and 8%.
However, although there’s a maximum of 11%, there’s only a short steep(er) section and the worse 5 kms average 7.8%.
There’s a few flat kms along the Lac de Roselend, which, if weather permits, is as magnificent and beautiful a sight as the Lac de Grand’Maison higher up the Croix de Fer from Allemond (east ascend).
Col du Pré
The route of stage 9 in this year’s Tour de France (yes, the real one, not mine), was folllowing the hard(er) alternative via Arêches.
The other alternative is following the Cormet de Roselend, until you arrive at the lake (Col de Méraillet) and then turn right to get up the final 5 kms, only 3 of them uphill.
As that stage was moving on to Bourg-Saint-Maurice for a finish in Tigne, that wouldn’t have made sense.
After a relatively easy 5 and 2 flat kms, the hard work begins at Arêches: 7 kms at no less than 9.4%…
An “interesting” climb, having up to Aréches in common with Col du Pré, is the Cormet d’Arêches.
While I looked at in back in 2014, more specifically from the other end, starting in Aime, I didn’t go for it.
Mainly because from what I could tell from Google Maps, that climb is gravel for a long(ish) stretch.
I do have a bike that can handle that now, but I fear it may turn out to be similar to the Colle delle Finestre during my Tour de France 2017.
So, while both starting points – I’ll get to the other end in a next post – are within reach, I’m not sure I’ll go for it.
From Beaufort, the climb is 19 kms long, at an average of 7.1%. However, the hard (gravel) work starts at Arêches, with a short respite when you reach the Barrage (and Lac) de Saint-Guerin.
And climbing may be hard, but going down the gravel part of either end, may be more of a menace…
Col des Saisies
The climbs from the north(-east), do obviously not start anywhere near Beaufort and I would have to look for another day/stage.
After all, Flumet is not any further from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne than Beaufort is.
As mentioned above, I have climbed it from Villard-Sûr-Doron west of Beaufort, taking the D218B, so I may look for alternative of the Col des Saissies.
I would mean taking the road that I came down from, back in 2014. This is via Hauteluce over the D70 – that climb starts just outside (east of) Beaufort.
After it joins the D218B, it’s the same 7 kms as the “standard” climb – this alternative is about the same in length – 15.2 vs 15.7 kms – but slightly easier at 5.7% vs 6.3%.
The difference is because of the slighly higher starting point and obviously the extra 500 m.
Signal de Bisanne
Also worth having a look at and tougher than the Saissies, is the Signal de Bisanne, especially when tackled from Villard-Sûr-Doron via the D123.
That climb is 14 kms long, at an average of 8.5%, but more than half of that is close to and over 10%.
It’s easier to reach and to be combined with the Col des Saisies, as it forks off that climb just before Les Saisies.
From there, it’s “just” 4 kms, half of which at 7.2% and the other (final) half at 10.8%. Adding the Col des Saisies, the total is 18.1 kms at an average of 6.8%…
Col de Joly
There’s one additional climb I may have a shot at: the dead end up the ski resort of Col de Joly.
This climb is another fork of the Saisies, taking a right turn off the D70 near Hauteluce.
From Hauteluce, it’s no less than 15 kms long, at 6% average, but the final 10 kms are 8% and over, albeit with a fortunate 2 kms “respite” in the middle of those.
Alternately, you can start the “standard” D218B climb up the Saisie and take a right onto the D70 near Hauteluce and climb the same part as described above.
However, that alternative is no less than 25 kms long, with an additional descend into Hauteluce and a few flat-ish kms following that.
This section, partly the same as above from the fork of the D70, is some 7 kms in which you gain no net altitude.
And that sort of concludes the possibilities from Beaufort. In my next post, I’ll discuss more familiar terrain, between Moutiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.