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Climbing Mont Ventoux

Le Geant de Provence - for experts riders only & not for the faint hearted!

The climb of Mont Ventoux is perhaps most well known to those outside of the cycling community as a name associated with the Tour de France.

Possibly one of the most feared climbs in the Le Geant de Provence (Giant of Provence) is not for those who are new to road biking, but rather for experienced riders looking for a challenge. Sadly the death of a professional cyclist during the 1967 Tour de France has added to the mountain's fame and fearsome reputation. Top British rider Tom Simpson died on the ascent of Mont Ventoux aged only 29, the granite memorial spot where he died has become a pilgrimage for many cyclists.

There are three main routes up Mont ventoux and by far the most popular of these starts from the village of Bedoin that lies to the south west of the peak. Cycling this route you will be following in the pedal strokes of some of the biggest names in cycling and many of those names you will see painted on the tarmac under your wheels.

Bedoin itself is a great place to stay, with traditional markets being held on a Monday, majestic mountain views and full of the colours and smells of Provence. The atmosphere is buzzing with cyclists all day long, and the climb starts directly as you leave the village to the east.  

With all the sign posts Mont Ventoux is hard to miss - you will pass through the small towns and villages of Sainte Colombe, Les Bruns and finally Saite Esteve. After this point the gradient becomes pretty consistent at around 10% for at least 10km of gruelling riding.  At Chalet Renard the mountain really opens up as you are now above the tree line and facing the last 6km of an almost moonscape type scene. The gradient doesn't let up even near the end and the final 2km are again around 10%. 

It is worth noting that the ascent from Bedoin is the most difficult of the 3 routes up Mont Ventoux. Professional riders will complete the climb in an astonishing hour, with the best amateurs managing it in less than 2 hours. But this is not a mountain to take on lightly - preparation is key. Take breaks when you need to, ensure you are prepared for the varying weather condtions and above all, make sure you train in advance!

Distance : 21.4km
Time : 2 - 3hr
Vertical Gain : 1639m

 

Watch out for

It is worth noting that the ascent from Bedoin is the most difficult of the 3 routes up Mont Ventoux. Professional riders will complete the climb in an astonishing hour, with the best amateurs managing it in less than 2 hours. But this is not a mountain to take on lightly - preparation is key. Take breaks when you need to, ensure you are prepared for the varying weather condtions and above all, make sure you train in advance!

What to bring

IGN Map 164 (Carpentras Digne-les-bains) covers this area.  

  • Water - One of the biggest problems in Provence in the summer is the heat. Fit two bottle cages to your bike and take 750ml bottles with electrolyte drinks.
  • Sun Cream - The hot southern summer sun means you will burn quicker here than at home. And remember the backs of your hands if you are not wearing cycling gloves!
  • Windbreaker - Although it may be warm in valleys temperatures can drop rapidly as you climb, weather can chage quickly and the fast descents can cool you down fast.
  • Snacks - Energy Bars and gels are a very good idea if you are planning a day on the roads.
  • Mobile Phone - Being able to contact someone to pick you up if your chain breaks is helpful.
  • Money -  You may need it in an emergency or just for a beer at the end of the day.
  • Basic Repair Kit - You can't fix everything by the side of the road but not all breakdowns require the day to end.

What to see

Top British rider Tom Simpson died on the ascent of Mont Ventoux aged only 29, the granite memorial spot where he died has become a pilgrimage for many cyclists.

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