The Col d’Izoard is the latest climb to be taken on by Mike Cotty of The Col Collective. Here’s his take on it.
As one of the rare climbs that has featured in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, the Col d’Izoard was always destined for greatness long before the modern era of cycling became a fashion statement.
Roll back to the 50’s and it was the exploits of Italian Fausto Coppi and Frenchman Louison Bobet that ignited the heart and soul of their dividing nations as the unworldly landscape and weathered pinnacles of La Casse Déserte kept a watchful eye on all that passed.
Today it’s Coppi and Bobet, the angels of the Izoard, that are forever on patrol, a memorial dedicated to both champions can be seen just a couple of kilometres from the summit as you exit La Casse Déserte, but to make it that far is quite a journey in itself.
Starting in Guillestre from the south you face over 30km as you climb up to 2,360 metres above sea level. The average gradient can be deceptive at just 4.8% but that’s merely because the first 16km are gradual as you meander through the Guil valley before the road spikes up and the real fun and games begin with 14km to go.
Even on a perfect summer’s day it’s hard not to feel a slight chill down your spine just thinking of all the moments that have happened over the decades on these very slopes, each and every one adding another layer to the Izoard’s prestigious character.
By the summit it’s impossible not to be in awe of the snowcapped alpine panoramic that you’re blessed with, such is the power and the beauty of this magnificent mountain.
Elevation gain: 1,350m
Average gradient: 4.8%
Max gradient: 12%