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Video: Mike Cotty rides the Col de la Madeleine

Back to the French Alps for latest Cole Collective film

Mike Cotty’s latest Col Collective film sees him back in the French Alps to take on the Col de la Madeleine, riding it from Feissons-sur-Isère, one of two possible starting points for the northern approach to the Hors-Categorie climb.

The pass has been featured 25 times in the Tour de France, and from the mid-1990s was pretty much a fixture in the race, appearing in nine of the 12 editions from 1994 to 2004.

It’s regularly been included in the route of a stage that finishes at Alpe d’Huez – though not since 2001 – while its last two appearances, in 2012 and 2013, have been on stages finishing at Le Toussuire-Les Sybelles and Le Grand Bornand, respectively.

Here’s Cotty’s take on the climb.

From the north the Col de la Madeleine is a daunting prospect. Over 26 kilometres in length and climbing up to 2,000 metres elevation certainly doesn’t take an Einstein brain to work out it’s a serious test for both body and mind. Back in 2013 this was climb number 5 out of 16 during “Les Alpes” (a non-stop personal challenge to traverse the French Alps from Évian-les-Bains to Nice). Although I had to tackle the Col de la Colombière, Col des Aravis and Col de Saisies beforehand all of my attention was on the Madeleine. Mentally, this was the point that I’d focused on, where I’d tricked myself into believing that this is where the ride really began.

Despite its relentless length I absolutely love the Madeleine. Its true beauty is that it makes you feel as though you’re really going on a journey, from forest green, past cascading waterfalls, over stone bridges and beyond. I always have the sense that the Madeleine guards the entrance to the high Alps, as if it’s the gatekeeper to the greats. Make it over its summit and the whole world opens up to reveal a playground of peaks including the Glandon, Croix de Fer and Galibier. What a legend, as a cyclist you really can’t ask for more.

Vital Statistics
Start: Feissons sur Isère
Length: 26.3km
Summit: 2,000m
Elevation gain: 1,585m
Average gradient: 6.2%
Max gradient: 11.5%

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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ianrobo | 8 years ago

3 weeks today for this one and the Telegraph  1

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