The barren slopes of the Col d’Izoard have provided a dramatic backdrop to some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Tour de France.
Fausto Coppi, who in 1949 became the first rider to win the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in the same year, and Louison Bobet, the first rider to win three Tours in succession in 1953, 1954 and 1955, both launched race-defining attacks on the Col d’Izoard, also known as the Casse Desert. A memorial to the two riders lies 2km from the summit on the northern ascent from Briancon, which climbs for 18.9km at an average pitch of six per cent.
More recently, Andy Schleck launched his audacious, long-distance solo raid on the climb on stage 18 of the 2011 Tour before soloing to victory on the Col du Galibier in what was the highest summit finish in the race’s long history.
Average gradient: six per cent
Start elevation: 1,258m
End elevation: 2,371m