Eleven must-ride climbs of the 2017 Tour de France - Road Cycling UK

Expert road bike reviews and the latest road bike news, features and advice. Find rides & events, training articles and participate in our forums



Eleven must-ride climbs of the 2017 Tour de France

From iconic Alpine ascents to little-known Jura giants

The Tour de France 2017 rolls out on Saturday (July 1) with an individual time trial in Dusseldorf, before the race winds its way through Belgium, Luxembourg and onto the French mountains.

For the first time in a quarter of a century, all five French mountain regions feature, with 53 climbs packed into the route in all, including some of the giants of the Vosges, Jura, Pyrenees, Central Massif and Alps.

– Tour de France 2017: King of the Mountains contenders –

Of those 53 climbs, seven have been rated hors categorie, or ‘without category’ – the toughest ascents on the route – with the Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer and Col d’Izoard among them.

The Col d’Izoard is one of several iconic Tour de France climbs on this year’s route (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

And alongside iconic Tour climbs like the Galibier are new climbs such as the brutal Col de la Biche, with all set to shape the final outcome of the yellow jersey and sure to see dreaming of your next cycling trip to France.

– Tour de France 2017: TV schedule –

We’ve picked out 11 of the must-ride climbs on the 2017 Tour de France route. How many can you tick off?

La Planche des Belles Filles (stage five)

Only introduced to the Tour de France in 2012, La Planche des Belles Filles will be familiar to British cycling fans as the climb atop which Chris Froome won stage seven of that race and Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey.

Wiggins of course kept the jersey from there on, though his relationship with Froome soured when his team-mate when on the attack again, contrary to team orders, on La Toussuire later in the race.

Vincenzo Nibali climbs to victory on La Planche des Belles Filles in 2014 (Pic: Sirotti)

Vincenzo Nibali won on the Vosges climb on its last Tour de France appearance meanwhile, but what if the climb itself?

It’s only 5.9km but the gradient rarely drops below double figures – the average gradient of 8.5 per cent masks this thanks to a brief respite before the super-steep climb to the top.

Vital statistics

Distance: 5.9km
Highest altitude: 1,035m
Average gradient: 8.5 per cent
Maximum gradient: 28 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: five
Classification: category one

Col de la Biche (stage nine)

New to the Tour de France for this year’s race, the forest-lined Col de la Biche is relatively unknown to the wider cycling public – though that will no doubt change after this year’s Tour.

Grand Colombier steals the limelight in the Jura mountains, but regular visitors to the region will know all about its northerly sibling, which boasts a nine per cent average gradient over 10.5km.

The Col de la Biche is new to the Tour de France route (pic – Will_Cyclist, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Much of that gradient features on the lower slopes of the climb, where double-digit gradients kick in almost immediately.

It does ease slightly towards the summit, however, which a great view of Mont Blanc and the Alps your reward for your suffering.

Vital statistics

Distance: 10.5km
Highest altitude: 1,316m
Average gradient: nine per cent
Maximum gradient: 12 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: nine
Classification: HC

Grand Colombier (stage nine)

Grand Colombier is a much better-known climb in the Jura mountains, having also been a regular feature at the Criterium du Dauphine, Tour de l’Ain and Tour de l’Avenir.

There are three main ways to climb it in all, and this year’s Tour route tackles it from the toughest western side for the first time.

Grand Colombier features eye-watering gradients but a stunning backdrop (pic – will_cyclist, via Flickr Creative Commons)

With eye-watering gradients well in excess of one-in-five at times, the 8.5km climb – with an average gradient of 9.9 per cent – there will be little time for the peloton to take in the stunning backdrop, which features the Rhone valley, Lac du Bourget, Val-de-Fier gorges and the Alps in the distance.

Vital statistics

Distance: 8.5km
Highest altitude: 1,501m
Average gradient: 9.9 per cent
Maximum gradient: 28 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: nine
Classification: HC

Mont du Chat (stage nine)

We have already had a taster of what to expect on the Mont du Chat, with the end of stage nine of this year’s Tour also featuring at the Criterium du Dauphine.

It is not just the climb of the Chat which takes centre stage, but the descent too – where Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Jakob Fuglsang impressed at the Dauphine.

Mont du Chat will make its first appearance in the Tour de France in July. With an average gradient of 10.3% over 8.7km, it’s one of the toughest climbs in France (Pic: Alex Broadway/ASO)

But let’s just focus on the climb for now – and what a climb it is, with Le Cycle dubbing it one of the hardest in France.

That’s right, the France of Mont Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Galibier and so on… if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, then the raw stats will: 8.7km at a thigh-numbing average gradient of 10.3 per cent.

The Mont de Chat famously got the better of Eddy Merckx at the 1974 Tour de France, before he made up ground on the ascent – this is the climb’s first Tour appearance since.

Vital statistics

Distance: 8.7km
Highest altitude: 1,504m
Average gradient: 10.3 per cent
Maximum gradient: 15 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: nine
Classification: HC

Port de Bales (stage 12)

Veterans of the 2007 Etape du Tour will know all about the Port de Bales, having sampled the climb for themselves before it made its Tour de France debut that year.

This year, it is the only of the Pyrenean climbs to have attracted hors categorie status, thanks to its 7.7 per cent average gradient over 18.9km.

The Port de Bales is the only HC climb in the Pyrenees this year (pic – Simon James, via Flickr Creative Commons)

A relatively new climb to the Tour de France, race organisers instigated the repaving of the road over the top in order to create a road pass in 2006, and this will be the climb’s fifth appearance since.

And no sooner have the peloton gone up and over the climb than they will be climbing another iconic Pyrenean ascent…

Vital statistics

Distance: 18.9km
Highest altitude: 1,755m
Average gradient: 7.7 per cent
Maximum gradient: 11 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 12
Classification: HC

Col de Peyresourde (stage 12)

…and that iconic ascent is the Col de Peyresourde, which will be traversed in the opposite direction from last year’s Tour.

That means the very same road Chris Froome bolted down in ungainly but super-effective fashion to claim the yellow jersey will be climbed this time out.

The wide-open roads of the Col de Peyresourde (pic: ©Media24)

The wide open roads from Bagneres-de-Luchon are exposed to the elements, and you will notice a lack of kilometre markers on the way up, so there’s little to distract you from the 7.8 per cent average gradient.

For the Tour riders the climbing does not stop at the summit of the Peyresourde either – after a quick descent, there’s then a sharp left turn up to the Peyragudes ski station. If you plan on tackling both yourself keep plenty in reserve – the final kilometre averages 13 per cent.

Vital statistics

Distance: 9.7km
Highest altitude: 1,569m
Average gradient: 7.8 per cent
Maximum gradient: 9.8 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 12
Classification: category one

Col d’Agnes (stage 13)

One of three category-one climbs awaiting on stage 13, this will be the Col d’Agnes’ sixth appearance at the Tour with Robert Millar and Marco Pantani among those to have led the way over the top in previous editions.

Just a little over 10km in distance, the average gradient is 8.2 per cent, with a steepest section of 10.6 per cent to contend with.

Lush green backdrops and spectacular hairpin bends feature on the Col d’Agnes (pic – Ronde de l’Isard, via Flickr Creative Commons)

The Pyrenean climb offers a picturesque, lush green backdrop and spectacular hairpin bends as you get closer to the summit and traffic is scarce as an added bonus.

Vital statistics

Distance: 10km
Highest altitude: 1,570m
Average gradient: 8.2 per cent
Maximum gradient: 10.6 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 13
Classification: category one

Col de la Croix de Fer

As the Tour hits the Alps, the length of the climbs increase significantly, though none of the others are anywhere near as long and gruelling as the Col de la Croix de Fer.

Taking its name from the iron cross at its summit, the 24km climb is unusual for an Alpine climb in that it lacks consistency on its twisting roads.

The Col de la Croix de Fer is the longest climb on this year’s route (pic – Will_Cyclist, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Two relatively long downhill sections mask its true difficulty, and contribute to the comparatively low average gradient of 5.2 per cent.

Its length, its regular pitches of nearer ten per cent and more and its 2,000m+ altitude all contribute to a seriously tough climb, however.

Vital statistics

Distance: 24km
Highest altitude: 2,067m
Average gradient: 5.2 per cent
Maximum gradient: 11 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 17
Classification: HC

Col du Telegraphe (stage 17)

Part one of the eagerly-awaited stage 17 double-header, the Col du Telegraphe is far more than a means of getting to the Col du Galibier.

At 11.8km long, with an average gradient of more than seven per cent, there’s no doubting the climb’s severity, but the gradient is – as is more often the case in the Alps – consistent at least.

The Col du Télégraphe may be considered the little brother to the Col du Galibier but its an iconic climb in its own right (Pic: Media 24)

A hugely popular climb with Alpine cyclists, the Telegraphe peaks at 1,566m up before a downhill section to ease you onto one of the most iconic Alpine ascents of all…

Vital statistics

Distance: 11.9km
Highest altitude: 1,566m
Average gradient: 7.1 per cent
Maximum gradient: 9.8 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 17
Classification: category one

Col du Galibier (stage 17)

Snaking its way up the barren mountainside, the Col du Galibier is as stunning as it is challenging and iconic.

One of Tour de France founder Henri Desgrange’s favourite climbs, the climb will be the highest point of this year’s Tour at 2,642m and therefore also carries the prize bearing Desgrange’s name.

The Col du Galibier will be the highest point on this year’s Tour de France route (Pic: cyclepig / Creative Commons)

With the air thin up there, and the steepest section of the climb (more than ten per cent gradient) reserved for the final kilometre, the Galibier is one of the toughest Tour de France climbs of all.

This will be the first time it has featured in the race since 2011, meanwhile, with landslides having caused it to be removed from the 2015 route.

Vital statistics

Distance: 17.6km
Highest altitude: 2,642m
Average gradient: 6.9 per cent
Maximum gradient: 10.1 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 17
Classification: HC

Col d’Izoard (stage 18)

Fausto Coppi and Luison Bobet are remembered in a memorial at the summit of the Col d’Izoard, with the climb having played host to some of the race’s most memorable moments in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

And it remains an iconic climb today, with a new chapter set to be written into its Tour de France history when it features as a summit finish for the first time on stage 18.

The Col d’Izoard has hosted some memorable Tour de France moments (pic: Will_Cyclist, via Flickr Creative Commons)

The Izoard will also be used for this year’s Etape du Tour sportive and La Course women’s race, meaning plenty of action atop the rocky summit.

The barren landscape towards the summit, the Caisse Deserte also marks the steepest sections, with the climb – having started steadily – ramping up as you get nearer to the top.

Vital statistics

Distance: 14.1km
Highest altitude: 2,360m
Average gradient: 7.3 per cent
Maximum gradient: 10 per cent
TDF 2017 stage: 18
Classification: HC

Supported by


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.