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Video: Mike Cotty rides the Col d'Izoard from classic southern approach

Latest Col Collective film follows rider up one of the Tour de France's classic climbs...

Earlier this year, the Col Collective released a video showing Mike Cotty tackling the Col d’Izoard from the less familiar northern approach – and now, in their latest film, he rides it from the more usual starting point of Guillestre.

The Col d’Izoard has featured 33 times in the Tour de France, typically in a stage ending in Briançon, but has only been included twice since 2006 – most recently last year on Stage 14 from Grenoble to Risoul, which saw that less common approach from the north.

– Video: Mike Cotty tackles the Col d'Izoard – from the North

This is what Cotty has to say about the climb from this direction.

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.

Vital statistics

Start: Guillestre
Length: 30.5km
Summit: 2,360m
Elevation gain: 1,350m
Average gradient: 4.8%
Max gradient: 12%

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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FatBoyW | 7 years ago

Ah the deep envy of watching someone good enough to make a living out of the joy of cycling! He must be getting a bit long in the tooth now? I hope Mike is still winning sportives.


Does look beautiful, but I don't think I'm tempted this year. Definitely one to visit.

Leviathan | 8 years ago

Does this boy not have a job?

captain_slog replied to Leviathan | 8 years ago
bikeboy76 wrote:

Does this boy not have a job?

You're joking, right? He clearly can't sit down for more than about fifteen seconds.

Love the evening light. I hope he didn't have to come down in the dark. And I like that thing where he disappears and then reappears a few dozen yards up the road. Wish I could do that.

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