Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Video: Mike Cotty rides up Mont Ventoux - the Giant of Provence

Latest Col Collective film features lesser known northern approach to feared summit

Visible for miles on a clear day across the Rhone Valley and beyond, Mont Ventoux fully deserves its nickname, the Giant of Provence. Now, it's the latest addition to the Col Collective series of videos - with Mike Cotty tackling it from the north, rather than the more usual southern approach.

The Tour de France has featured the mountain in 15 editions, the first in 1951, the most recent in 2013 when Chris Froome took Stage 15 there on his way to winning the yellow jersey for the first time.

Nine of those ascents have been summit finishes, and all but three have approached the mountain from the village of Bedoin to the south, with the tree-lined lower slopes giving way to the barren, sun-baked landscape after Chalet Reynard and later passing the memorial to Tom Simpson, who lost his life here in 1967.

The climb has begun just once at Sault to the east, said to be the easiest of the three routes up, and twice at Malaucène in the north, with opinion split about whether that approach, or the one from Bédoin, is the toughest.

It was at Malaucène that the Tour's first ascent of the Ventoux began in 1951, with Lucien Lazaridès the first to crest the summit on a day when the stage victory was taken by Louison Bobet in Avignon.

More than two decades later, in 1972, came the second stage in which the race climbed the mountain from the north, Bernard Thévenet crossing the line first at the summit.

Here's Cotty's thoughts on the climb:

As one of the most mythical mountains in cycling history, Mont Ventoux rarely disappoints. Let’s face it, you’re either met with hurricane winds that’ll do everything they can to blow you off its slopes or blistering heat that’ll take no mercy, making you gasp as the air starts to thin. A mountain of extreme, there never seems to be an in between with Ventoux and, in some respect, that’s the whole attraction.

Although there are three sides to reach its moonscape summit at 1,912 metres, Bédoin rules the roost, made famous by the legends of the Tour de France. Malaucène on the other hand feels very much like the forgotten mountain, much quieter, almost serene if you manage to catch it in a good mood and yet equally as challenging. 21.4km at an average of 7.2% it often feels like it’s winning the war taking your body and mind to the limit. If you can overcome this, focus on the moment and hold on to your perspective then, trust me, everything will begin to make sense once more. Vive Ventoux.   

Vital statistics

Start: Malaucène
Length: 21.4km
Summit: 1,912m
Elevation gain: 1,558m
Average gradient: 7.2 per cent
Max gradient: 12 per cent




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.

Latest Comments