5 Cycling Climbs To Unleash Your Inner Geraint Thomas

STORY BY Megan Hughes 26th May 2019

Last summer, Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas became the nation’s new lycra-clad darling, soaring to victory on the world stage at the 2018 Tour de France with some epic performances in the climbing stages. If you fancy following in his tracks ahead of this year’s race, here are some of our favourite Thomas-worthy climbs.

 Nice – Col d’Èze

This famous mountain pass between Nice and Monaco has historically played a decisive role in the Paris–Nice road cycling race, which Thomas won back in 2016.

Rising up to 507m, this pass has been used as both time trial and a climb within a larger road race loop, starting and ending in Nice. The climb up the Col d’Èze itself is 9km at a gradient of 5.7%, enjoyable for most recreational cyclists. Those who wish to emulate the race riders can follow this up with a final 2km stint on the flat roads of Nice, finishing up on the Promenade des Anglais.

Though Thomas did not have a victory on the final Col d’Èze stage in 2016, he maintained his place as race leader in the general classification making Nice the setting for a win that Thomas claimed showcased the fact he could compete against the best racers in the world.

Funes

 In 2017, Thomas took victory in the Tour of the Alps, which takes place across five stages over Austria and Italy. Thomas was the first winner of the race under this name (it was previously the Giro del Trentino) and the first British rider to win this race.

Thomas’ only stage victory came in Stage 3, a 137.5km journey from Niederdorf / Villabassa (Italy) to Villnöss (Italy), also known as Funes.

A popular destination for cyclists, this area has also been included a number of times on the Giro d’Italia route, likely because of its varied cycling routes and stunning location within the Dolomites.

From the village of Chiusa/Klausen, a 9km climb will have you following in Thomas’ footsteps to where his Tour of the Alps stage ended, in the village of Funes. However, for those that truly want to challenge themselves, the “Funes Climb” heads further past the village, up to the Passo delle Erbe. This is definitely not one for the faint-hearted; almost 25km long and with a maximum gradient of 16%!

 

La Rosière

 2018 was the first year that the La Rosière climb had been included on the Tour de France and it definitely did not disappoint, with Thomas’ final kilometre push providing a thrilling climax to a closely fought stage and proving crucial to his overall victory.

The climb from Bourg-Saint-Maurice up to the summit covers 17.6km with an average 5.8% gradient. One of the most picturesque climbs on the Tour, it passes through beautiful landscapes and offers a striking panorama of the Haute-Tarentaise valley.

Experienced riders can also choose to take on the route from Montvalazen up to the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard. With a gradient averaging around 5%, it’s not the steepest of climbs, but at 28km long and with 19 hairpin bends, it is one of the longest and most challenging in the Savoie Mont Blanc area.

The climb takes you up through La Rosière to the Franco-Italian border, where you will be rewarded with views over the Mont Blanc Massif and the chance to enjoy a delicious local lunch over in the Italian town of La Thuile.

 

© ASO:Pauline Ballet. Tour de France 2018

L’Alpe d’Huez

 One of the most iconic climbs of the Tour de France, the 21 bends up to Alpe d’Huez are the ultimate challenge for many cyclists.

After a first appearance on the Tour back in 1952, Alpe d’Huez returned to the schedule in 1976 and is now a firm fixture in race history, one of the most eagerly anticipated and most-watched stages of the Tour.

Following up his summit victory at La Rosiere with another here, Geraint Thomas became the first rider to win this stage while wearing the yellow jersey, as well as the first British winner on Alpe d’Huez.

At a distance of just under 14km, do not underestimate this route. The climb is pretty tricky, averaging around an 8% gradient, but reaching up to 13% in parts. However, the hairpin bends do well to break up any monotony and keep you aware of your progress towards the summit.

Start in Bourg d’Oisans, a beautiful Alpine town which is a great base for many Tour routes as well as other outdoor mountain activities.

© ASO:A.BROADWAY

Cardiff – the Taff Trail

As Thomas was born in Cardiff and began his cycling career in the city, we cannot fail to include a Cardiff-based route on our Thomas tour!

The Taff Trail is undoubtedly one of the best routes in the area, covering 88km from Cardiff Bay to Brecon and bringing you through beautiful countryside and passing some of the area’s most popular attractions.

The highest point is at Talybont Reservoir, where you can take on a gradual ascent when travelling north and a more challenging, steep ascent when heading south.

Featured Image © ASO:A.BROADWAY

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