Tour de France 2021 – Stage 6

Col du Mollard and Chalmieu

Not a real horse, trust me…

The forecast for today looked pretty much like the other days so far, except yesterday.

While I do go out when it rains – within broad limits – it’s obviously nicer if that can be avoided.

In the end, I think I even had more sun than expected, but there’s still a bit of a wind chill.

Also, I didn’t include the nameless climb – up to Les Villes – as a bonus, because I didn’t want to push my luck.

What I did, was difficult enough already, given the increasing back pain.

Under climbing strain, that becomes close to intolerable at times, whereas taking a standing climbing position gives some relief, but when I get back in the saddle, it really takes my breath away.

Luckily, having a short break off the bike helps, after which I’m good to go for a while again.

Not ideal, but it is what it is…

It was a bit of a hassle to get to Villargondran, with road work deviation(s) and an infrastructure that often looks like spaghetti even without that, but we got there.

I started the “north-eastern” ascend of the Col du Mollard from there.

If you’re looking for a climb with lots of hairpins, this is one of those – I lost count, going up and going down, but. there are over 40…

Upon entering Albies-le-Jeune, you pass a col marker: Col de la Confrérie (1,368 m).

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to “add” another col, as it’s not like you’re going down before getting up the rest of the Mollard, but I’ve seen many such markers when I cycled in the Vosges.

It wasn’t added until November 2019, so the CyclingCols profile card doesn’t even mention it.

After a short coffee break on the Mollard summit, we went down to the split with the D80A, near Montrond.

Le Chalmieu is one of those dead ends that do have a listing, but you need to be a nutcase like me – see stage 4’s Frumezan – to get up there.

At least the road is actually a road, but it’s 6 kms straight up at 10% and over.

Well, not straight as it has some (hairpin) corners, but I guess the main attraction is the view over the valley, although that is not any better than what you get while on the Mollard, or the downhill from that, getting to Montrond.

I went up the dirt track past the parking a bit, because I got there when my Garmin read 1,780 m (elevation gain) and I wanted to make that 1,800.

That’s where I found the wooden horse in the picture above 😎

When we got back down to the split, I descended the rest towards the D926, which is closed due to road works just past that crossroad,

Anyone having planned the “main” ascend of the Croix de Fer for today or tomorrow, would be forced to take the Route Panoramigue (D80A).

Not really a punishment and in no way any less of a challenge, but still.

I just turned around and climbed the Mollard again, like I did during my prologue.

No picture(s) at the summit this time, but I did have a break in Albiez-Montrond (or Albiez-le-Vieux, whatever).

We then went down the 40+ hairpins towards Villargondran (note to self: change to lighter or drop shades altogether next time) and upon entering Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, I ended the ride, so we could do some shopping.

Total for today: almost 73 kms and 2,221 m of elevation gain.

Link to Strava, Ride with GPS and Relive.

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