Day 13 (27/08/2014): Val d’Isère-Briançon (161km/3,200m ascent/4+1 passes/drank 7.0 litres)

passes climbed:
Col de l’Iseran (2,770m); [Col de la Madeleine (1,746m)]; Col du Télégraphe (1,566m); Col du Galibier (2,646m); Col du Lautaret (2,058m)

towns passed:
Bessans; Modane; St-Michel-de-Maurienne; Valloire; Briançon

Lucky (day) number 13!

Today made very much up for the rainy day before. Sunshine all day long – combined with two main ascents that took me across five passes overall. My personal little Tour de France:
Col de l’Iseran, Col de la Madeleine, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier, and Col du Lautaret.

A few words about those passes: with Col de l’Iseran I climbed the second highest pass road in the Alps in the morning. Very nice to cycle up to, despite quite some ski-lifts and cable cars around. And on my way down approx. 30 young people went up to the Col on these rolling skis acting as summer-equivalent to cross-country skis. That area seems to be a centre for biathlon – in any way it’s good to see that it’s not just me who is a little crazy 😉

on top of the second highest pass of the Alps

my way down from Col de l’Iseran

My further way led me to Col de la Madeleine. Now there’s the thing: I did not have that Col on my list of passes – and it’s actually not listed on any list or any serious website I found (after only a brief research, I have to say). But then again it can’t be denied that there was the sign pointing out that I have reached at least a Col de la Madeleine with 1,746m altitude. It’s a bit mysterious. The only thing certain is that it’s not its famous 1,993m high namesake that has been climbed during the Tour de France several times before. And because of all this uncertainty, I classify it as an “additional pass” rather than including it into the official count (with the positive side effect that I don’t have to change the numbers in all previous posts 😉).

mysterious Col de la Madeleine – who knows more about this 1,746m high pass?

The remaining descent to St-Michel-de-Maurienne was extremely tedious and tiring. It was once more a fight against the wind that almost let me finish my day early exasperated in St-Michel-d-M. However, two slices of ‘Mille-feuille’ and a longish break brought me back to life – and the best part of the day began:

passing Col du Télégraphe in the afternoon

The climb up to Col du Télégraphe together with some other charity cyclists, and the subsequent ascent to Col du Galibier were certainly a highlight on my tour. The evening sun whitewashed the mountain scenery into a perfect setting; and a little “race” against four road cyclists towards the end of the climb motivated me even further. It was a real treat and pure pleasure up there. And besides, with Galibier I climbed the 5th highest pass road of the Alps (4th highest point on my tour). Furthermore, I crossed the border from départment de la Savoie to départenent des Hautes Alpes.

my way up Col du Galibier

on the fourth highest point of my tour

and my way down from Galibier towards Briançon

Col du Lautaret was passed on my way down from Galibier without any effort.

it just “happened to be” on my way down

And now at the end of the day I had the wind in my back which blew me all the way to Briançon, Rosenheim’s twin town. In addition to that it’s a very historic city that belongs to the world heritage site “Les Fortifications de Vauban” (an aggregation of twelve of the best-preserved fortifications created by Vauban. Briançon’s title as “highest city in the European Union” seems to be quite constructed – as it wasn’t quite enough for the highest city in the Alps – which is the Swiss Davos. So let’s hope for the Briançonians that Switzerland doesn’t join the EU at some point 😉

I went for the ‘maillot à pois rouges’ – thought that would be the most appropriate one for me

230km/4,930m ascent/4 passes to go!

accurate route details (incl. GPS track):
Vienna-Nice Transalp – day 13 (Val d’Isère-Briancon)
Start date/time: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 9:34, distance (km): 160.38, elevation (ascent in m): 3,142

all photos of the day:

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