Tour de France 2021 – Other Areas (Part 1)

In my previous posts, I’ve discussed the climbs and passes starting in and close to our Tour de France 2021 base camp, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

While those may seem enough to keep a lousy climber like myself busy for the total duration of our 14-day stay, you should know better by now.

I never fail to disappoint when overestimating my “grinta” and planning more than I can handle.

Although, in the end, I usually do manage to get most of it done 😂

In this post and the next, 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 focus on the south-eastern end of the Maurienne valley, starting around Modane.

Modane

Modane is the main city at this end of the Maurienne valley. You may have driven past it, as it’s near the entrance to the Fréjus tunnel, leading into Italy.

While it may look tempting to plan a stage in Italy, the only climbs within a reasonable distance would be the Colle delle Finestre and the Colle de Sommeillier.

The former I have tackled during my Tour de France 2017 (stage 4) and I’m not looking forward to doing that (ever) again.

The latter seems more interesting, as it gets you up to a dazzling 2,993 m and I’ve never been that cose to 3,000 m.

However, that climb is probably even worse than the Finestre, at least looking at the pavement or better put: lack thereof.

On the other hand, it is nowhere near as steep as the Finestre, so it would be relatively “easier” to cycle.

But, while I think my Domane can handle it, it really requires a MTB, and what’s more important, a 4×4 if you want to get up by car. So, Paula would be unable to follow me…

Valfréjus

I accidentally came across this (dead end) climb, as it appeared on BigRingVR.

At 15 kms and an average of 6%, with only a few sections of > 9%, Valfréjus is actually is a proper col of its own. I’m not sure if there’s any point in trying to get a bit furter up, past the main ski resort.

L’Orgère

On the other end of the Modane valley, starting not far from the Valfréjus climb, there’s a similar dead end climb to L’Orgère.

This one is 12.3 kms at 7.4% average, which makes it similar to the Télégraphe. As you would expect from the average, it features more > 9% stretches, so it has a higher profile index.

I guess there’s a good stage in there, combining the two above climbs 😎

Col de l’Iseran

Tour de France 2014 - Stage 3: on the Iseran close to Tigne
This is on the Iseran from the other end, with a view on Tigne

The formidable Col de l’Iseran is definitely on my to do list for this Tour.

I’ve tackled it from the other end (Bourg-Saint-Maurice) during my Tour de France 2014 (stage 3) and this time, I will not be including the side trip up the Mont Cenis as I – stupidly – did back then.

The profile card on CyclingCols doesn’t even start before that fork at Lanslebourg, from where it already is 32 kms in length. But starting in Modane, it totals no less than ~55 kms…

Granted, the preceding 23 kms do not have much more than 450 m of elevation difference, if you follow the “main route”, but still.

If you want a bit more of a challenge, it’s worth the extra effort of taking the “Route Panoramique”.

It features an additional climb up the Croix/Côte d’Aussois: 8.6 kilometers at 5.4%, with a kilometer over 8% and it (re)joins the main route at Sollières-Sardières.

So, while this is the harder alternative, it’s definitely the nicer alternative – I rode that in the reverse direction after my Mont Cenis ascend from Susa in the Tour de France 2017 (stage 7).

While I have no intention to get up Mont Cenis, there are two noteworthy dead end climbs forking of the Iseran.

Barrage de Plan d’Amont

This one is starting at Aussois, so off the “Route Panoramique”. From there it’s “only” 7 kms, but at an average of 9.3% the first 5 of those, it’s definitely challenging.

Vallon d’Etache

This climb start off the main route up the Iseran, near les Glières (Braman). It’s almost 11 kms long, with a 4 km flat(-ish) section, the other 7 kms averaging just over 9% too.

Plan du Lac

Another serious climb – also a dead end – is the climb up to Plan du Lac. This climb ends at no less than 2,305 m, which makes it the highest of the “side roads” discussed here.

This climb starts just outside Termignon (Val Cenis), still located before Lanslebourg.

It’s about 13.5 kms long, with an average of grade 7.6%. As it has a short flat/dh section, the rest is definitely above 8%, with 4 kms above 10%.

So, I have another option for a seperate stage with more than one of these or I can tackle one or two, while ascending and descending the Iseran.

Doing the latter would make it obvious that I have not learned a lot from my “stupidity” in 2014, because the Mont Cenis is actually the least difficult from al the deviations off the Iseran climb I can take.

Then again, I finished off that 2014 stage with a climb up the Madeleine from la Chambre at the time…