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Climbs to ride: Col de L’Iseran – the highest road pass in Europe

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Col de L'Iseran

Linking the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys in the Savoie department of the French Alps, climbing the Col de L’Iseran is a journey into the wonders of the Vanoise, the country’s oldest national park.

Although the purists may prefer to start from Bourg Saint Maurice, for the full 48km ascent, in doing so you have to contend with the first stretch of the D902 which is a busy road, heavy with traffic and tunnels. From the famous ski resort of Val d’Isère to the summit the road is much quieter and if you pick your moment then there’s every chance you’ll have it all to yourself.

Just one of a whole host of mythical climbs on the fabulous Route des Grandes Alpes stretching from Lake Geneva all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, it’s not often that you really get a true sense that you’re climbing all the way to the very top of the highest peaks around you, but that’s exactly what makes the Iseran so special, and at 2,764 metres elevation it’s the highest road pass in Europe and the true giant of the Alps.

Start: Val d’Isère
Length: 16 km
Summitt: 2,764m Start
Elevation: 1,854m
Elevation gain: 910m
Max gradient: 10%
Average gradient: 6%