The Col Collective series continues with Superbagnères-Bagnères-de-Luchon. The climb in the Midi-Pyrénées region has featured in the Tour de France six times with the first back in 1961 when Imerio Massignan was the stage winner.
Since then, the stages finishing at Superbagnères have been won by great climbers such as Federico Bahamontes, José-Manuel Fuente, Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond. It hasn’t been used since the 1989 Tour though, when Robert Millar won the stage.
This is Mike Cotty’s take on the climb.
Surrounded by no less than fifteen snowcapped peaks above 3,000 metres, climbing to the ski-station at Superbagnères deep in the Midi-Pyrénées opens up a whole new world of freedom all the way to its 1,800 metre summit.
Starting from the beautiful spa town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, also host to the start of the Col de Peyresourde and Port de Balès, the road traces its way alongside the river Pique as you wind your way up and around the mountain. Don’t let the average gradient of 6.3% lull you into a false sense of security though as the road regularly holds its form above double figures from the first couple of kilometres.
I’m often surprised that it’s only featured six times in the Tour de France so far with greats like Bahamontes, Hinault, Lemond and Millar all being triumphant on its slopes but, to be honest, that’s the most fulfilling thing about Superbagnères, its relative anonymity nestled amongst better known climbs feels like a secret Pyrenean gift that just keeps getting better the higher you climb.
Elevation gain: 1,170m
Average gradient: 6.3%
Max gradient: 12%