Coppi on his way to victory on Alpe d’ Huez
Arguably the most iconic climb in the TDF, Alpe d’Huez has been called the Tour de France’s ‘Hollywood climb’ and there is no doubt that Alpe d’Huez has played a starring role in cycling’s history since its first encounter with the sport back in 1952 when the legendary Fausto Coppi triumphed on the summit.
Re-introduced to the Tour in 1976, Alpe d’Huez has risen to mythical status, thanks initially to a string of victories by riders from Holland, whose exploits attracted tens of thousands of their compatriots to the climb, which has become known as ‘Dutch mountain’.
Few climbs in world cycling capture the imagination like Alpe d’Huez. If you’re serious about your cycling then this iconic climb is probably already on your bucket list, but if it isn’t, it should be.
Each of its 21 hairpins are named after professional riders who have been the first to make it to the summit of the 13.8km climb.
The gradient is pretty much relentless from the start and the steepest sections are during the first 2kms of the climb.
Mont Ventoux is a classic and considered by many to be the most fearsome of France's climbs. Known as ‘the Giant of Provence’, it’s 1,912m high and stands alone in its infamy.
Mont Ventoux is often, the scene of great battles in the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné and Paris-Nice. The ascent from Bédoin is relentless at 21.8km. Closer to the summit, the climb was completely stripped bare of trees by shipbuilders many years ago, and is now little more than limestone scree, which offers zero protection from the strong winds and intense summer sun.
It’s notorious for claiming the life of English cyclist Tom Simpson who collapsed of exhaustion and died during the 1967 Tour, aged 29. Official cause of death was heat exhaustion. The amphetamines and brandy found in his system would not have helped.
Gino Bartali summits Tourmalet at le Tour 1938
No list of Cols in France can be written without mention of the Col du Tourmalet. It is the highest mountain pass in the French Pyrenees and has featured in the Tour de France more times than any other climb.
The Tourmalet can be climbed from either the east or the west. The western side is longer at 19km and has a steeper average gradient of 7.4%.
Col du Tourmalet is a climb that entices cyclists from around the world and it does not disappoint. The scenery, the history and the sense of accomplishment provide the most compelling reasons to tackle a climb described by Eddy Merckx as 'the most legendary Col in the Pyrenees’.
But it’s not facts and figures that make the Tourmalet so special; it is history. This climb stands as a memorial to men who understand the indomitable power of the human spirit, who are not prepared to accept limitations. It’s a memorial to all the great cyclists who have raced over it.
Leon Scieur pushes his bike up the Galibier in 1921
The Galibier is one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs and legendary because it is so uncomfortable to ride on. Nobody likes it, not even the most gifted of climbers.
This col can be climbed from both sides although the traditional ascent is from the north. The Col du Galibier is only accessible after the Col du Télégraphe or the Col du Lautaret. Only then does the iconic climb start at Valloire and goes up and up for a further 17.6km at an average gradient of 7%.
Framed by the jagged peaks of the Dauphiné Alps, the famous Col du Galibier makes all other climbs look like “gnat’s piss”, according to Henry Desgrange, founder of the Tour de France.
The weather is rarely pleasant, ranging from hot, humid and oppressive on the Télégraphe, to an angry freezing wind blowing unrelentingly at the top, even during high summer.
The Galibier is one of the most intimidating obstacles of the Tour de France, which is why Henri Desgrange, loved it so much.
Celebrating the greatest and most historic climbs of the TDF, we introduce three limited edition stylish t-shirts paying homage to these iconic climbs.
"The Ventoux is a God of evil, to which sacrifices must be made. It never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering". - Roland Barthes
Alpe d'Huez T-Shirt
Established at 2768 feet in the Central French Alps, A.D. HUEZ & CO are fine purveyors of thin air, nausea and exhaustion.
Tourmalet & Sons T-Shirt
A member of the Pyrenees Group, specialising in 2115 M of Iconic Brutality. What more could one wish for?
Other Iconic Climbs T-Shirts