The 100 Cols Tour 2015.
What is the 100 Cols Tour?
Or to give it it’s correct name, the Honderd Cols Tocht, because this tour was first mapped in 1979 by the NTFU (Nederlandse Toer Fiets Unie, the Dutch sport cycling association) when they took the initiative to link together a number of different cycling climbs in France.
It has been described as both ‘the toughest bicycle ride in the world’ as well as ‘the most beautiful’ by those that have completed it. Since its origin more than 35 years ago, more than 2000 riders have attempted it, but only about 1 in 7 have completed it.
The route (which has had some minor variations over the years to accommodate road changes) starts and finishes in Saverne, a small town in the North East of France near to Strasbourg and close to the French – German border.
It weaves its way through the vineyards and forests of France; traversing the Vosges, Jura, Massif Central, the Pyrenees, Cévennes, Provence and the Alps. But the draw of the route (and the origin of the name) lies in the fact that to complete it you will have to crest no less than 115 cols and another 105 côtes. It encompasses most of the highest mountain passes in France, including the Col de la Bonette which is the highest paved road in Europe.
What are ‘Cols’ and ‘Côtes‘?
A ‘col’ is a mountain pass. It is the highest part of a road, in between two higher mountaintops.
A ‘côte’ is simply defined as a slope or hill, but don’t let that definition fool you, because some of these côtes are difficult; for example the Côte de Sainte Croix in the Cévennes, or the Côte de la Croix Signy which is the longest climb in the Beaujolais.
The names of the mountains are a veritable who’s who of mountain climbs, familiar to anyone who has ever taken an interest in the Tour de France; the Marie Blanque, the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Peyresourde, Mente, L’Aspin, Portet d’Aspet, Core, Homme Mort, Bonette, Vars, Izoard, Galibier, Telegraphe, Iseran, Cormet de Roselend, Grand Colombier, Ballon d’Alsace, Grand Ballon, Bonhomme and of course Mont Ventoux.
I will be riding the 100 Cols Tour with an international group of 30 other cyclists from the following countries:
- Australia (8)
- USA (9)
- The Netherlands (9)
- Germany (3)
- Norway (1)
An additional 25 cyclists from the following countries will be joining us throughout the tour to cycle some of the stages:
- Australia (20)
- USA (3)
- Canada (1)
- Croatia (1)