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Mont Ventoux from Bédoin


  21km

  1577m

  difficult

Start:  Bédoin

Country:  France

CLIMBS:  Mont Ventoux (1912m)

Route:  Climb


An iconic climb in the Provence region of France

With 21 km and 1577m of climbing, the "Giant of Provence" is a great challenge for any cyclist. Since 1951, the greatest champions of the Tour de France have made history on the characteristic lunar landscapes of the last 6 kilometres. This legendary climb from Bédoin is something that every cyclist must do at least once in his lifetime.

However, one should not underestimate the ascent of the Ventoux. A highly trained cyclist will take less than an hour and a half to reach the summit. But for most, the effort will last two to three hours on slopes that can reach up to 11%. It is therefore advisable to be well prepared before making the pilgrimage to Bédoin. A beginner or little trained cyclist will prefer the ascent via Sault, much easier up to Chalet Reynard where the road joins the route coming from Bédoin.

Bike set-up is also important; as the name implies, the wind can blow very strong at the top of Ventoux, to the point of becoming dangerous. Avoid high profile wheels and use good gear ratios: at least 36×28, but a 34×32 will help any cyclist reach the summit in reasonable condition. Two bottle cages are also highly recommended to be able to hydrate enough during the effort.

How does the climb up the Ventoux break down? The first 6 kilometres out of Bédoin are relatively easy through the vineyards. Then it gets tougher: at Saint Estève, you turn left and the average slope is 9.5% until you reach Chalet Reynard (km 15). The road meanders through the woods but there are no hairpin bends for any respite.

It is advisable to stop at Chalet Reynard to refuel (there is a restaurant) and recover before attacking the final section which offers a radical change of scenery. The forest gives way to rocky outcrops and you can see from afar the antenna installed at the top of Mont Ventoux. The slope is less steep in places but fatigue and, more often than not, the wind slows down the progress. The antenna never seems to get any closer, but when you do finally reach the summit at 1912 meters you can celebrate your hard work.

The descent should not be underestimated either: it is long, the wind blows most of the time, and the effort involved to get to the top can reduce your reflexes in the descent. It is therefore important to recover well at the summit and to remain cautious, especially since you will come across a lot of cyclists and cars on the road.

Beware of the weather: good weather in Bédoin does not mean good weather at the summit. The wind can blow violently, the fog can settle in, or the heat can be overwhelming on the first slopes. It is therefore advisable to find out about the conditions before setting off (see this useful link to a local weather site). In terms of clothing, at least one windbreaker should be brought along; long gloves, warmers and a hat are greatly appreciated in case of bad conditions.

Early summer (June) and late season (from mid-September) are the best times to climb the Ventoux. The heat is less intense than at the height of summer and the traffic is more bearable than during the holiday period.

The Haute Route Ventoux takes place at the beginning of October and offers the ideal conditions for climbing Mont Ventoux: rider support that is usually reserved for professional cyclists, and a unique atmosphere of camaraderie that encourages everyone to give their best effort. The 2020 edition will take place from 2 to 4 October, more info on the Haute Route website.

THE ROUTE

ABOUT THE CLIMBS

Stats and design by myCols



Average grade    7.5 %
Length                    21.2 km
Altitude start      335 m
Altitude top         1912 m
Ascent                    1577 m
Maximum             11 %

TIPS

Take a break at Chalet Reynard to refuel at km 15. And bring extra layers; it can be cold even while climbing on the unforgiving last few kilometres to the top.

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A gentle start from Bédoin

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A sign of things to come

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While the trees offer some respite from the heat below, the slope starts to pick up

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As you start to leave the forest, the lunar landscape comes into view

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Just after Chalet Reynard, the last push to the top

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The effort is finally paying off with an extraordinary view over Provence

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The famous tower that never seems to get any closer

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The memorial to Tom Simpson on the spot where he died on stage 13 of the 1967 Tour de France

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The final 100 meters don't get any easier


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Comments 2

  1. Hi Alain,
    Very good guide to climbing Ventoux.
    Just to re-emphasise a couple of points.
    Always check the weather before setting out. Some friends of mine were caught in a storm at the top and have never been so frightened in their lives.
    Take care after when you arrive at the summit, there is often a mix of cyclists, their supporters and pedestrians everywhere. It will be better next year when the work at the summit is finished and there is better separation between cyclists and cars. Watch the descent especially people walking out in the road by the Simpson memorial.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Kevin. Yes, the weather can change dramatically between the bottom and the top.
      And it’s better to climb the Ventoux off season to avoid the crowds. I did it last October on a week day and it was just perfect.

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