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Video: Mike Cotty previews Tour de France debut climb, the Col du Pré

Ascent will feature on Stage 11 of this year's race...

In his latest Col Collective video, Mike Cotty previews a climb - the Col du Pré - that this July will feature in the Tour de France for the first time.

He also takes on an ascent that has been included in the race on 10 previous occasions, the Cormet de Roselend, which will also be on the itinerary of this year's Stage 11 from from Albertville to La Rosière.

Making its debut in the race in 1979, the climb was last included in 2009.

From the beautiful alpine village of Beaufort in the Savoie department of the Rhône Alps you've got two choices when tackling the Cormet de Roselend. Head straight out of town on the D925 and you'll pick up the main road for the traditional climb but, should you take the unassuming D218A in the direction of Arêches then you also have the opportunity to bag the hidden gem of the Col du Pré. If you're a dairy lover then you're definitely in the right place, Beaufort is famous for its locally produced cheese, although you may want to refrain from this until after the ride as the Roselend in this direction is a long one, 25 kilometres from start to summit.

If it's a piping hot day then the shelter from the trees is often welcomed on the main road, the lesser known road of the Pré is very different in character, winding its way through meadows and past wooden chalets while those famous cows peacefully graze away all day long. To think that the Pré is the easy option would be an oversight, taking this route actually adds 5 kilometres to the climb with only a moment or two to recover from its steep pitches, often at or beyond 10%.
It's as you crest the Pré's summit at 1,748m elevation that it becomes clear as to exactly why you've decided to suffer the extra 5 kilometres. With snowcapped views of the Mont Blanc Massif, the turquoise water of Lac de Roselend is nothing short of mesmerising. Take a second to recover and absorb the moment as you descend towards the Barrage de Roselend.
Constructed in the 1950's the primary purpose of the barrage is to produce hydroelectric power. At 804m in length and with a height of 150m, the dam stores up to 187 million cubic metres of water, making it a truly intriguing and impressive feat of mountain engineering.
Climbing away from the barrage and back to the main road we actually bag the 1,605m Col du Méraillet too (#bonus) although aside from the sign you'd be hard pressed to realise that you've added another col to your collection. Tracing your way along the shore of Lac de Roselend this is your last chance to recover before the final 5.7km to the summit of the Roselend. As water tumbles down from alpine waterfalls, on a fine summer's day there are few places in the world so idyllic. Although Mother Nature can be fickle at times.....
First used in the 1979 Tour de France the Roselend has witnessed much drama over the years, none more so than in 1996 when treacherous conditions saw race leader Stéphane Heulot abandon in tears just 2 kilometres from the summit, Belgian Johan Bruyneel overshoot a tight left-hand bend on the descent, disappearing into a ravine to the gasps of all watching, before the whole world witnessed the seemingly unstoppable Miguel Indurain crack on the final climb to Les Arcs, bringing Big Mig's dominant reign in the Tour to a dramatic end.   
Fortunately today the weather was on our side and we were able to appreciate the true beauty of the Col du Pré and Cormet de Roselend. I hope one day you have the opportunity to explore them both for yourself and can feel the true magic that both bring.   
Vital statistics
Start: Beaufort
Length: 25km
Summit: 1,968m
Elevation gain: 1,188m
Average gradient: 5.6%
Max gradient: 12.7% 
Ridden in July

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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DaSy | 6 years ago
1 like

I love the Col du Pré, having climbed it 4 or 5 times now. The only issue I have with it is that I have always ended up staying in Arêches, so straight after breakfast and onto the climb within about 10 yards of the hotel is a bit much. The view and the chocolat chaud in the bar at the top is well worth the climb on its own though.

bobinski | 6 years ago
1 like

I think the climb from Bourg st Maurice, to Roselend then around is the more impressive. Possibly my favourite climb. 

captain_slog | 6 years ago

Glorious scenery.

Blink and you'll miss it, velo-gourmets, but one of the captions mentions Beaufort's excellent cheese.

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