Col Agnel


The Col Agnel / Colle Dell’Agnello is number three on the list of highest paved passes in Europe – the Cime de la Bonette not included – and with 2,744 meters it has also been the Cima Coppi in the Giro d’Italia several times.

A not too busy road, where you’re not constantly overtaken – at high speed – by motor bikes or cars. The pass out of the valley on the opposite side – the Izoard – is a lot busier for that matter…

Report on my climb up the Agnel in 2014 here, pictures on Google+ here (combined with the Izoard)

Guillestre

Agnel - profile fro GuillestreThe official start of the climb from the north / French side is in Guillestre. I got on the bike in Chateau Queyras, only a few kilometers from the foot of the climb, at La Casse / Ville-Vieile.

From there, you have about 20 kilometer of real climbing ahead of you, but the 20-kilometer ride from Guillestre through the “Gorges du Guil” would be a very nice warm up – the altitude gain of roughly 400 meters, is almost negligible.

With an average of 4.1% from Guillestre, the Agnel may not seem like a tough climb, but from Ville-Veille the average of 7.1% is a lot more “interesting”.

The most difficult parts are right out of Ville-Veille and the last 5 to 6 kilometers, where the averages go up to a stinging 9%.

Furthermore, the ascent is actually reasonably ‘straightforward’ – only in the last five kilometers you get some hairpin sections and prettier pictures if you’re into that sort of views.

Other than that, the views throughout the climb are often overwhelming in their wideness and the silence / absence of traffic is a relief…

Video from the Col Collective on the climb from Ville-Veille here.

Casteldelfino

Agnel - profile from CasteldelfinoFrom Casteldelfino the climb is a little longer – 22.5 km – but much more irregular in the first half and quite steep in the upper half.

In that part – from Chianale – the road winds up at an average of 10% to the top, over a distance of about 9 kilometers – definitely more difficult than the upper half from the other end.

I have not climbed this side myself*, because at the summit, I turned around and descended back to Ville-Vieille, in order to then climb the Izoard.

Looking at the profile of the south side of the Agnel and taking into consideration that I’m not a fan of “irregular”, I’m not sorry I skipped it at that time and as it was, the Izoard was difficult enough for me…

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* I did tackle the Agnel virtually, on Rouvy – that ride starts in Sampeyre, which adds another 10 kilometers. While these are not too difficult, I experienced that they wear you out just enough to make the final almost insane.

I was more exhausted when I finished that virtual ride, than when I got up the other end IRL…

Also on the Agnel, I did not have any view at the summit – sometimes, you’re just out of luck…

Tour de France 2014 – Stage 11

Angnel and Izoard

Despite the fatigue, I wanted to go up – at least – the Agnel.

With 2,744 meters, this one is ranked third in Europe as far as paved, true passes go.

I.e. it’s not a dead end and it has no artificial loop around the top to make it higher, like the Bonette – only the Iseran (check) and the Stelvio (check) are higher passes…

As I did not really feel the need to cycle the Vars again, we transferred to Guillestre by car.

I could have started my ride there, but I saved myself the time and didn’t do so before Château-Queyras.

Read moreTour de France 2014 – Stage 11