They are near other big name climbs, they are normally bypassed by the majority of the cyclist, they are there to be discovered…
This series will be dedicated to some of the most amazing climbs you probably never heard about.
It’s been for a while that I wanted to ride up the Col du Sabot, surrounded nonetheless by climbs like Alpe d’Huez, Col de la Sarenne and the long and demanding Col de la Croix de Fer. Having ridden all of them before, definitely, the Col du Sabot is on par on beauty with the Col de la Croix de Fer, the feeling of loneliness like the Col de la Sarenne and with the Alpe d’Huez…well is hard to compare. Just to note the number of attempts according to Strava at the moment of writing this article: over 108k for the famous 21 hairpins climb compared to a mere 1,700 on the Col du Sabot.
I start my ride at the top of Alpe d’Huez, is early morning when I meet Oliver Lamb, my friend from Cycle Huez (www.cyclehuez.com). Oliver has been living in Alpe d’Huez for a few years now with his wife Katia and two daughters. Their bike shop is the place to go if you need to rent a bike or buy some original cycling gear designed by himself.
First, we descend towards Le Bourg d’Oissians, it is weird to start the ride down one of the most famous climbs in the world. We stop for a moment to take a picture, a light fog covers the bottom of the valley. Then we follow the main road D1091 towards Rochetaillee where we turn right in direction to Allemont and do a couple of switchbacks up the dam.
Riding along the reservoir until we reach the turn right to Le Verney, here is where the Col du Sabot starts, soon we see signs of the Route du Sabot. The climb is 14.5km long at an average of 9% gradient, a real first category climb that reaches 2,100m. at the top.
5km on the climb and we arrive at Vaujany and then to La Villete, before starting the most interesting section of the climb, the last 8km are incredible, narrow road, a few switchbacks and great views all the way up…and no traffic at all.
The arrival to the top is very simple, the asphalt finishes and a small gravel parking starts. A short walk over the top shows you amazing views of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
You need to be careful on the descent, some irregular surface doesn’t make this one a fast one.
We return to Alpe d’Huez via the Pas de la Confession and Villard Reculas, following the spectacular cliff road that rejoins the traditional Alpe d’Huez climb at the hairpin 5 to go. Definitely a great ride.
You can check my ride here.