© Côte d’Azur France – Isabelle Fabre

Cycling training: the Côte d’Azur’s 5 most mythical passes!

The Alpes-Maritimes area offers extraordinary opportunities for cycling enthusiasts. It’s probably one of the reasons why a quarter of the professional cyclists’ peloton lives on the Côte d’Azur! So why not come training and ride one of the Côte d’Azur’s 5 most mythical passes?

1. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: head for the Col de Vence!

An ideal pass for testing your fitness in any season!

9.8 km long with a 640 m climb, in my opinion it is the ideal pass for mountain training 365 days a year. It is in fact an easily accessible pass that has the distinction of being very regular. South facing, it’s ideal for testing your fitness in the mountains whatever the season – including winter! As a coach, I regularly take my athletes to Col de Vence for a workout.

1. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: head for the Col de Vence (continued)!

Here are some timing benchmarks to help you find your level…

– Less than 30 minutes: professional or elite level.
– Between 30 and 35 minutes: very good mountain level.
– Between 35 and 40 minutes: good mountain level.
– Between 40 and 50 minutes: average level.
– Between 50 minutes and 1 hour: modest level.
– More than 1 hour: cycle tour level.

Vence side statistics:
Length: 9.8 km.
Altitude at the top: 927 m.
Altitude difference: 640 m.
Slope: 7%.
Max slope: 12%.

2. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de la Bonnette!

Did you know? The highest road in Europe is on the Côte d’Azur!

The Col de la Bonette is quite simply the highest road in Europe! With about 10 km of it at an altitude of between 2000 and 2800 m, the Col de la Bonette is the perfect pass for mountain training and boosting the number of red blood cells. Facing south, the Côte d’Azur side of the pass is suitable for training for 5-6 months of the year since it is usually open from late May to November. In June, you’ll meet all the pros training for the Tour de France.

2. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de la Bonnette (continued)!

The Col de la Bonnette’s little extra: at the top, the summit loop!

This loop allows you to work on your strength in hypoxic conditions by completing several laps at a regular pace.

Saint Etienne de Tinée side statistics:
Length: 25.8 km.
Altitude at the top: 2802 m.
Altitude difference: 1652 m.
Slope: 6.4%.
Max slope: 9 %.

3. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de la Madone!

Internationally, the Madone is the most famous pass on the Côte d’Azur!

Located in the Nice countryside and a few km from Monaco, the Col de la Madone was made famous by Lance Armstrong – it was his favourite pass. In addition the Col de la Madone gave its name to a high-end bike brand that sponsored the American rider. Hidden in the bottom of the Borrigo valley in Menton, the start of the pass is not easy to find. The most difficult part is the middle section just before reaching the village of Sainte-Agnès.

3. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de la Madone (continued)!

Climb this pass made famous by Lance Armstrong, five-time winner of the Tour de France!

Afters Sainte-Agnès, the road is narrow, steep and very wild! At the top, there is an exceptional view of the Mercantour massif. The Col de la Madone is practicable all year, except in winter on the north side where the road is often icy and snowy.

Menton side statistics:
Length: 14 km.
Altitude at the top: 922 m.
Altitude difference: 885 m.
Slope: 6%.
Maximum slope: 10%.

4. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de Turini !

A 3-sided Côte d’Azur pass, made legendary by the Monte-Carlo Rally!

The Col du Turini is a proper mountain pass that has the distinction of having 3 different faces. You can climb to Turini via Sospel (the most gradual climb), via Escarene (the longest climb), and via La Bollène-Vésubie (the most difficult climb).
Peaking at 1600 m, the Col de Turini is a perfect pass for mountain training on wild roads. At the top, there are several cafés and restaurants where you can take a break and get a snack.

4. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col de Turini (continued)!

Some key figures and statistics for your ascent of the Col de Turini!

Sospel side:
Length: 24 km.
Altitude at the top: 1607 m.
Altitude difference: 1244 m.
Slope: 5.2%.
Maximum slope: 9%.

L’Escarène side:
Length: 26.2 km.
Altitude at the top: 1,607 m.
Altitude difference: 1250 m.
Slope: 5.1%.
Maximum slope: 8%.

La Bollène Vésubie side:
Length: 15.3 km.
Altitude at the top: 1607 m.
Altitude difference: 1107 m.
Slope: 7.2%.
Maximum slope: 10 %.

5. Cycling training on the Côte d’Azur: Col d’Eze!

The myth of Paris-Nice, a short pedal from the centre of Nice…

The Col d’Eze is the most accessible pass since it starts from the Port district in Nice Riquier. A very famous pass because the professional Paris-Nice (the « Course du Soleil ») peloton goes through it every year at the beginning of March. The Col d’Eze is a fairly short pass but has several demanding 12% sections – in particular at the start and in the middle after the astronomy observatory. Practicable in all seasons, it is an ideal pass for perfecting your climbing technique while also enjoying the magnificent views of the Mediterranean.

Col d’Eze statistics:
Length: 7.8 km.
Altitude at the top: 461 m.
Altitude difference: 447 m.
Slope: 6%. Maximum slope: 10%.

jbw2.jpg
     Cycling training:

 

5 mythical Côte d’Azur passes!

By Jean-Baptiste WIROTH

Passionate about sport, I live between the Côte d’Azur and Cape Town in South Africa. In 2002, I created a coaching and sports event company: WTS – The Coaching Company. Today, I advise amateur and professional athletes helping them to prepare their goals, and organize cycling events under the Executive Challenge brand.

Our suggestions