Type of itinerary: Cyclotouriste
Distance: 19 km
Level: Très difficile
Minimum altitude: 711 m.
Maximum altitude: 2115 m.
Markers: Jalonnement kilométrique
Recommendations: Recommended season : from june to october (due to the snowfall)
Signposted : from Luz Saint-Sauveur to the top of Tourmalet
Required gear ratios : from 39x25 to 34x25
Comments: The first cycling race to cross the Col du Tourmalet took place on 18 August 1902. It was known as "the cycling and tourism competition" and was organised by the Touring Club of France. The starting and finishing point for the race were located in Tarbes. The Tourmalet was climbed twice over a distance of 215km. Jean Fischer was twice in the lead crossing this mountain pass. It was only in 1910 that the Tour de France first climbed the Col du Tourmalet. Octave Lapize crossed it in the lead on 21 July 1910 during the great Bayonne-Luchon stage which covered 325km. At this time, he made the famous statement "Vous êtes des assassins!” ("You are killing us!") aimed at the organisers. From then on the Col has been climbed many times by the Tour de France and is in fact the most crossed mountain pass in the race out of all the mountain ranges. It was notably the arrival stage in 2010 where we witnessed the famous Scleck vs Contador battle.
In the 1913 Tour de France, Eugène Christophe was knocked over by a car while descending the Col du Tourmalet, thus braking his bicyle fork. As the rules strictly forbid any assistance during the race, he walked 14 kilometres on foot in order to reach Sainte-Marie de Campan carrying his bike on his shoulder. In a local smithy Christrophe attempted to repair his bike himself. The incident meant the cyclists at the head of the Peloton were four hours ahead and that any dream of a final victory in the 1913 Grande Boucle was gone for Eugène Christophe. However his tale did become legendary.