Mont Ventoux (most famous and difficult ascent in Tour de France), France

Mont Ventoux is a mountain in the Provence region of southern France, located some 20 km north-east of Carpentras, Vaucluse. On the north-side, the mountain borders the Drôme département. It is by far the biggest mountain in the region and has been dubbed the “Giant of Provence”.

For road bicycle racing enthusiasts, the mountain can be climbed by three roads.

  • South from Bédoin: 22 km over 1610 m. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.6%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 10%. The last kilometres have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 2-3 hours for trained amateur individuals, and professionals can ride it in 1-1.5 hours. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trial 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″.
  • North from Malaucène: 21 km over 1570 m. A little easier than the Bédoin ascent, better sheltered against the wind.
  • East from Sault: 26 km over 1220 m. The easiest route. After Chalet Reynard (where the “lunar landscape” of the summit starts), the climb is the same as the Bédoin ascent. Average gradient of 4.4%.

Every year there are amateur races to climb the mountain as quickly and often as possible in 24 hours. On May 16, 2006, Jean-Pascal Roux from Bédoin broke the record of climbs in 24 hours, with eleven climbs, all of them from Bédoin

[Source: Wikipedia]

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