Pyrenean ascent has featured in Tour de France for more than a century - this time Cotty rides it from the west

The latest film from the Col Collective isn't the first one in which Mike Cotty has tackled the mighty Col du Tourmalet - but in the latest, he climbs it from Luz St Sauveur to the west whereas in 2015, the approach was from the east, starting in Sainte Marie de Campan.

It's featured in the Tour de France more than 80 times, which is more than any other mountain pass, and its debut in 1910 - the first time the race included high mountain stages - is part of cycling folklore.

Alphonse Steinès, a journalist at L’Auto, the newspaper which launched the race in 1903, drove to the Pyrenees to assess the suitability of the mountains for the Tour de France. On the Tourmalet, once his car was unable to venture further up the ascent, he found a local lad to guide him to the summit.

By the time he got there, a search party had already set out to find him. Coming back down, he telegrammed his boss, race founder Henri Desgrange, and told him: "Crossed Tourmalet stop. Very good road stop. Perfectly feasible."

Here's what Cotty says about his latest ascent of one of cycling's most fabled climbs:

From the west the climb starts in the pretty mountain village of Luz St Sauveur, where you face 19 kilometres on your journey up to the summit at 2,115m. As with any climb of this length the early part feels as much of a mental game as it is physical. The kilometres tick down slowly the road remains wide with little to take your mind away from the 8% gradient. Settle down and find your pace, you’ll need to keep some in reserve for the second half of the climb. On entering Barèges the road kicks again, reminding you once more that the Tourmalet means business but it’s at mid distance when choices have to be made. Remain on the D918 and a beautiful set of switchbacks await, however if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then it’s time to head right and onto the Voie Laurent Fignon, the old Tourmalet road that is now only open to cyclists. With faded road markings from the Tour de France this road has a certain energy that can still be felt from the race and, in my opinion, it’s the only road to take on the way up gifting you magnificent views of the main road below and the distant valley.

As you join the main road once again you now have just 4 kilometres to go as the Pic du Midi de Bigorre observatory comes into view, standing proud at 2,877m. It’s now that you can get a really good look at the summit as the road snakes back and forth ahead. Take a moment to catch you breath and enjoy the sensational views as the gradient momentarily eases with 2 kilometres to go. Be warned, you don’t have long before it pitches up again and you’re into double figures all the way to the summit where the iconic Octave Lapize statue awaits your victory salute! 

Vital statistics

Start: Luz St Sauveur
Length: 19 kilometres
Summit: 2,115 metres
Elevation gain: 1,404 metres
Average gradient: 7.4 per cent
Max gradient: 13 per cent
Ridden in early October

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.