Col du Tourmalet is the most used climb in the Tour de France, 2012 was the 82nd time it has been used, including 2 stage finish at the summit in 1974 and 2010 and 3 at La Mongie. From Soulom on the western side you have 1km down hill, then 12km through Gorge de Luz at an average of 3% to Luz Saint Sauveur from where the climb officially starts. From there it is 19 km to the summit at 7.5% to an altitude of 2115m. From the summit there is a further 5.5km at 9.4% to Col du Laquettes at an altitude of 2636m, most of the time this is suitable for mountain bike only but some years it is repaired and can be ridden on a road bike, from here you can climb by foot to the observatory on the summit of the Pic de Midi, it is just over 2800m, the view is breath taking, on a clear day you can see the Massif Central. If you're lazy you could take your bike up in the cable car from Le Mongie and ride down, mountain bike advised, the cable car is €30.
Col du Tourmalet map with live weather and webcams.
From the east the climb starts at Sainte Marie de Campan and is 16.5 km at 7.5%. The first 4.5km are nothing before it kicks up to over 8% for the remaining 12km.
The name of "Col du Tourmalet" is often wrongly translated to English as "Bad Detour". From French it would kinda mean that but it is in the Gascon language and not French. It means "Long Mountain". There is also the fact that is was not a detour but rather the main road into the Pays Toy. Before the road D921 was built through the Gorge de Luz in the mid nineteenth century, the road across the Tourmalet was the only one. The Gorge de Luz was an impassable wilderness and only a high altitude track from Soulom or Cauterets or across the Spanish border would take you into the valley. The name "Pays Toy" comes from French "Pays" meaning country and Gascon "Toi" meaning small. "Toi" was a nickname given to the mountain people by the inhabitants of the plains to the north.
Col du Tourmalet Cycling Jerseys by Velo Peloton. €60 each plus €9 p&p worldwide.
Please check the size chart before ordering.