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Mont Ventoux
Grueling climb
  • France
  • 1.912m
  • 21.3km

About the Climb

Shared by: Like Mike

With some impressive nick names like “Beast of Provence”, the “Giant of Provence”, and “The Bald Mountain’’ it cannot be a surprise that the Mont Ventoux is one of the toughest climbs in cycling. The highest point is at 1.912 meters and you will gain 1.614 altimeters, but there is more. You have the violent wind which can drive you mad, temperatures that can differ 20 degrees at the top and a tough last kilometer with an average grade of 11%.

Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended since 1951.

The mountain achieved worldwide notoriety when it claimed the life of the British cyclist Tom Simpson, who died here on 13 July 1967 from heat exhaustion caused by a combination of factors, including dehydration, amphetamines and alcohol. He began to wildly weave across the road before he fell down. He was delirious and asked spectators to put him back on the bike, which he rode to within a half mile of the summit before collapsing dead, still clipped into his pedals. Amphetamines were found in his jersey and bloodstream. There is a memorial to Simpson near the summit, which has become a shrine to fans cycling, who often leave small tokens of remembrance there.

The route takes 1h30m up to 2h30m for trained amateur riders via Bédoin

There are three routes to climb the Mont Ventoux. The ‘long’ route from Sault at 26 km gaining 1200m is seen as the easiest with mainly parts of 5% grade. The climb from Malaucène is in theory at least as difficult as the Bédoin route with some very steep sections up to plus 12%, but these sections are followed by much easier parts of 2-5%.

The route from Bédoin can be titled the most Epic and famous one of the three, being part of the biggest professional cycling. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trail of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré: 55′ 51. The time was measured from Bédoin for the first time in the 1958 Tour de France, in which Charly Gaul was the fastest at 1h 2′ 9”.

It’s starts easy with an average of 4% but as of kilometer 6 hell starts with sections of 9% up to 10%. The well-know barren moonscape starts around kilometer 15. From this point on at every turn the site of the weather station makes you feel your that much closer to the summit. The last 5 kilometers will have grades in the range 6% till 8%, but the wind can make it much more challenging. The mountain decides if you are tough enough and this becomes evident as you venture in to the last kilometer of your ride with an average of 11% grade.

Video of the climb

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