Tour de France 2023

Tour de France LogoAs announced in an earlier post, I will finally get to cycle the Pyrenees during my Tour de France 2023.

Okay, that should probably read “in the Pyrenees” for I will mostly cycle the central part of the Pyrenees range.

It would be nice to cycle the “Raid Pyrenees” that is (also) available as a Tacx series of RLV’s.

This is covering many Pyrenees climbs, from East to West, and I’ve done that indoors.

There’s also an official (timed) Raid Pyrenees, crossing the range in max 100 hours (Randoneur) or 10 days (Touring) that can be cycled in either direction.

While tempting – I love “officially stamped” certificates 1 – I will not be doing that…

Instead, we will stay in just one place: Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

I will try to get some climbs on the “Been there, Done that” list that are not in the immediate proximity of that city.

But I will most likely already have more than I can swallow just concentrating on those that are…

As stated, my Tour de France 2023 will mainly visit the Central Pyrenees, which extend eastward from the Somport pass to the Aran Valley, and they include the highest summits of the Pyrenees range.

These are:

  • Pico de Aneto 3,404 metres (11,168 ft)
  • Pico Posets 3,375 metres (11,073 ft)
  • Monte Perdido 3,355 metres (11,007 ft)

Part of the Pyrenees National Parc, the region where we will reside is also known as “Hautes-Pyrénées” and is the most interesting from a cyclist’s point of view.

That is, if you like blowing yourself to bits, like I do 😂

The highest (paved) road pass in the area 2 is the Col du Tourmalet (2,115m/6,939ft) which starts in Luz-Saint-Sauveur, south of “Argèles”.

That will probably be as high as I will get – altitude-wise at least – during my Tour de France 2023, which, in comparison to the “Hautes-Alpes” or the Italian Dolomites, is not so impressive.

Then again, looking at the Top 10, ranked by difficulty, I have the feeling that this Tour might be more “interesting” than previous Tours:

Name Length Gradient
Col de Portet from Saint Lary Soulan 16.1km 8.7%
Col du Tourmalet 18.3km 7.7%
Col du Tourmalet from Luz Saint Sauveur via Super Barèges 18.9km 7.4%
Plateau de Beille 16km 7.7%
Col de Pailhères 18.6km 6.7%
Col du Tourmalet from Sainte-Marie de Campan 16.9km 7.5%
Lac d’Aumar / Lac d’Aubert from Saint Lary Soulan 25.2km 5.5%
Col de Tentes from Luz Saint Sauveur via Cirque de Gavarnie 30.1km 5.1%
Col de Mantet 21.1km 6.2%
Col de Pailhères from Usson-les-Bains 15.5km 7.7%

The Tourmalet is in there no less than three times, although two are near identical.

Closest to our base camp Bagnères-de-Bigorre, is the climb up the Tourmalet from Sainte-Marie de-Campan

I will have to get out of my way to get the other end – and some other climbs – in, but if the car transfer is not too long, I will.

Three “must do” climbs are outside of the top 10: the Hautacam (12), the Col d’Aubisque (17) and the Col de Spandelles (48).

I will see if I can combine “our” end of the Tourmalet with the Aubisque and the Spandelles.

And also a car transfer to Argèles-Gazost could lead to a stage with two or (all) three of them in one stage.

Argèles-Gazost – where I originally imagined our base camp would be – or Luz-Saint-Sauveur could also be the starting point of another stage with the (fork) up the Col de Tentes and Cirque de Troumous.

From the cols in the Raid Pyrenees and the concluding Hautacam climb in the Tacx “Gers” collection, I remember having to almost throw up only during the latter.

You know I often mention that while mathematically sound, these overall average grades mean jack shit.

Anyway, I will have my usual fun in the coming months compiling the road book for my Tour de France 2023.

Which will then end up in the shredder after two stages 🤪

But, preparation is half the fun, right?

Here’s the complete area in one map – that’s a whole lotta red…

1 I have two of those from France: the “Cinglé du Mont Ventoux” and the “Brevet de 7 Cols d’Ubaye” 😎
2 I might get up the actual highest col in the area, the dead-end Col de Portet, as it is not too far out. Or so it seems on the map anyway…


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