While we were in the Alps we decided to do a Tour de France climb. Not just any climb, but the Col de Joux Plane – an hors categorie ascent gaining 3,500ft over 8.5 miles from Samoëns to the summit. The Col is so notorious, it even has its own website.
The climb took us approximately 1 hour 20 mins to get up. Described as the ‘terrible climb’ in the official stage report, 1997 Tour winner Marco Pantani got up in 33 minutes! Three years later Joux Plane managed to claim Lance Armstrong as a victim (he bonked), as described in his book (Lance still won the Tour though).
My fingers have been dancing over my calculator and I have worked out that Pantani climbed the Col de Joux Plane at 15mph (albeit on a super-light bike and in a drug induced haze). During our exhibition of climbing skill and endurance we managed to climb the Col (in a totally drug free fashion) at 6.5mph.
All the way up we couldn’t help noticing the name ‘Halgand’ painted on the road every 20 yards, as is traditional for the Tour. Until a few days ago we had no idea who Halgand was. Now we do; Patrice Halgand is a French climber for the Jean Delatour team and he won Stage 10 of Le Tour 2002.