Col de Val Louron-Azet
Fantastic for testing the legs on day 1 of your Pyrenean experience, the Col de Val Louron-Azet is a good, medium climb with plenty of hairpins, stunning views, an enjoyable lack of cars, and a lot of cows.
To start the ride, head out left and turn immediately left at the side of the house and follow the road whilst admiring the Neste river running alongside you. Just after the small village of Lortet you will pass our favorite spot for wild swimming before crossing a disused railway line and coming to a junction over a bridge. Turn left onto the main road and you’ll start the gradual climb up to Arreau. Taking the second stone bridge across the river on your left , go through Arreau’s the narrow high street and continue left up the slight gradient until you arrive in Génos. Depending on the time of the year, Lac Génos makes for a great Café stop before starting the big climb of the day. With the legs refreshed and excuses made for not feeling on top form for the climb, get back on your bike and make your way to the foot of the climb. With 15 hairpins, and an alleged 8.5% average gradient (the sign posts at the start are definitely wrong – it’s much steeper!), the Col d’Azet is a real fire cracker to take on.
As you climb keep an eye out for paraglider’s flying overhead, and soak in the fantastic mountain views. Make sure you take the sharp right signposted to the Col, rather than going down to the ski village! Once you reach the summit, take some time to absorb the 360 degree views of the Pyrénées and take note of the runway on top of the Peyragudes which is where stage 12 of the 2017 Le Tour de France finished.
As you know, what goes up must go down and this is no exception. Head down the west side of the col towards Azet whilst taking in the fabulous views across to Pla d’Adet and the Aure Valley. Follow the route down into the ski town of Saint-Lary-Soulan and stop at a café of your choice on the high street. Now follow the main road back through Ancizan, Arreau and Sarrancolin until you arrive back at the junction that you turned off at the start of the ride. Follow the road all the way back to Velo Le Closier to enjoy a slice of Sue’s delicious cakes!
- Distance – 86km (54 miles)
- Total Ascent – 1,280m (4,182ft)
- Main climb – 7.5km (4.6 miles)
- Height Gain – 620m (2,015ft)
- Altitude – 1580m (5,135ft)
- Average – 8.5% (Allegedly)
- Tour debut – 1997
- Category – 1st