In addition to a number of famous cols, the Tour of 2022 also does some lesser known climbs. One of those lesser known cols, however, is a very high one. We are talking about the Col du Granon. A col that is on place 20 in our Top-20 highest cols in Europe. A climb that also deserves more attention.
How did we compile the list? It is a ranking of the highest climbs in Europe, sorted from low to high. We limit ourselves to the paved roads. Therefore you will not find for example typical MTB roads like the Col de Parpaillon and the Colle di Sommeiller in our list. Some choices are debatable, but we always explain them. The heights of certain climbs are not always clear. To avoid discussion, we start from the altitude stated on the sign. Although we are aware that this too can give fodder for discussion. But in the end a nice list has emerged. Be inspired and dream of beautiful things.
We can be brief about that. The fifth highest col in France was only in the Tour once before. That was in year 1986 when Eduardo Chozas topped here first. The images are epic. Steel bikes, heavy gears, no helmets and lots of people.
This is really one for the enthusiasts. Every kilometer there is a sign with the percentage you can expect, as it should be. The name col is deceptive, however, because the other side is a gravel path where you can only ride an MTB at best. Moreover, this road runs through a military area and is therefore forbidden for passenger traffic.
If you ride from Briançon towards the Col du Lautaret, you can turn right in Saint-Chaffrey towards the Col du Granon. The total distance is 13 kilometers. The first part is nothing, but the last 10.5 kilometers have a brutal average of 9.3%. No, the Granon is not for fun. But it is really wonderful cycling, because the minuscule country road is totally unsuitable for heavy traffic. You will therefore not find many cars. What more could you want? The landscape is barren and rugged, but those who look back have a great view of the snowy peaks of the Écrinsmassif. After the Mont Blanc Massif the highest in France.
At the top you can see a military base. The col itself consists of a parking lot where you'll find at most some cars of hikers. In the descent, the view is breathtaking and you can enjoy the high peaks. But stay alert, because the narrow road does not lend itself to a fast descent. Are there cols with a more beautiful view? Absolutely. Are there cols with more beautiful surroundings? Certainly. But the Granon offers a unique cycling experience because of its quietness and firm percentages. No one is going to regret this.
Click on the image to download the route.
Photo's: Wikimedia Commons.