Top 10 best cycling climbs in the Pyrenees
Pailheres cycling Pyrenees

It is always a hard job to choose the best climbs in a mountain range. Especially a very big one as the Pyrenees, with over 600 km of mountains, being the border between France and Spain.

There are many different criteria to keep in mind to make a list like this one. I chose 2 main criteria: landscape beauty and steepness. I also had in mind other points such as traffic conditions. These are my favorite climbs in the Pyrenees:

    1. Port de Bales: This solitaire pass was asphalted recently and first included in Tour de France year 2007. Often into the rain and mist, if you get to the top in a clear sunny day you will have one of your best experiences upon a bike. And also challenging: on the Mauleon side they are 20 km and over 1200 mts elevation.
    2. Port de Pailheres: This climb has been included several times in Tour de France since 2003. Not one of the historical passes, but no doubt one of the most beautiful. The right side to climb is from Mijanes. There are a couple of very nice loops including Pailheres: With Col de Chioula and Col de Pradel. Both about 80 km and 3000 mts elevation the whole loop.
    3. Col du Tourmalet: The king of all the climbs in the Pyrenees. Possibly the most famous in the Pyrenees. Not the steepest, not the longest, but full of cycling history, first climbed in Tour de France 1910. The Geant at the top, the souvenir shop, the restaurant with the bikes hanging from the ceiling… A must for every cyclist to get up there!
    4. Col d’Aubisque. The second most important climb in the Pyrenees. Only being neighbors with Tourmalet makes it a little less important. The Laruns side (Gourette ski station) is the steepest, but the Soulor side is simply beautiful with the iconic Cirque du Litor. Aubisque was first included in the Tour de France in 1910 as well.
    5. Hourquette d’Ancizan. This is an alternative climb to the classic Col d’Aspin. First used in Tour de France in 2011, Hourquette d’Ancizan is a tiny narrow road with a spectacular landscape. Not a hidden gem since it was already included in TdF, but definitely not one of the most famous.
    6. Coll d’Ordino (Also known as Collet de Montaup). In Andorra, it is not especially high or steep, but it is a beautiful one. Worth mentioning a spectacular viewpoint called Mirador del Roc del Quer on the Canillo side. Nearby you can find the climb to Ordino-Arcalís, which is also beautiful, and the iconic big O at the top.
    7. Collada de la Gallina. Also in Andorra, which has become recently a kind of cycling paradise. Recently (2015) asphalted the side from Fontaneda. Terribly steep climb which has already some cycling history as Vuelta a España included Collada de la Gallina in 2012, 2013 and 2018.
    8. La Creueta. Not very known pass in the Spanish (Catalan) Pyrenees, close to La Molina ski station. The right side to climb is from La Pobla de Lillet (also from Gombren). Scenic climb with amazing views. Solitaire one, which makes it an additional reason to be included in the list.
    9. Port de Larrau. Border pass in the basque Pyrenees, one of the steepest all over the Pyrenees on the French side. It was discovered to the world of cycling on Tour de France 1996, in a monster stage which was the end of Miguel Indurain era, the day that the Tour de France ended at his doorstep.
    10. Cirque du Troumouse/Col des Tentes/Boucharo. In fact, they are 2 different roads starting at Gedre, a little south Luz St Sauveur (the starting point of west side of Col du Tourmalet). At Gedre there are 2 roads, one heading to the beautiful Cirque de Gavarnie (the road follows to Col des Tentes/Boucharo already in Spain) and the second one is a toll road to Cirque du Trumouse, a fantastic solitaire road. Both are dead-end roads. A must.

Recently, the Cyclist Magazine from UK released a top 100 cycling climbs all over the world, and there were 13 climbs from the Pyrenees: 7 of them are in the list here (missing the Spanish and Andorra ones) and the nice climbs missing in our list are Soulor (which makes part of Aubisque), Lac de Cap de Long, Aspin, Peyresourde, Superbagneres and Hautacam.

Sure there are many other nice roads in the Pyrenees, I especially want to mention the small Basque mountains (Izpegi is one of my favorites), but it is always hard to make a top 10 ranking. I hope you agree with me! If not, comment below!

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