Wednesday, 3 July – The 11th stage of the Tour de France traverses the Massif Central. At 211 kilometres, the riders travel from Evaux-les-Bains to Le Lioran. A series of short but demanding climbs!

It’s the first time Evaux-les-Bains has been on the Tour de France, which is not the case for Le Lioran. The 2016 edition says a stage finish in the ski area after a finale with the Pas de Peyrol, Col du Perthus and Col de Font de Cère. The same climbs are on the menu in the last 31 kilometres of this year’s 11th stage. So, respectively, 4.4 kilometres of climbing at 7.9%, 4.4 kilometres at 7.9%, and 3.3 kilometres at 5.8%.

The Col de Font de Cère peaks with 3 kilometres remaining. Most of it goes downhill before the last few hundred metres rise at 6% to the line.

The last hour of action is harder than in 2016, as the Peyrol/Perthus/Font de Cère combination is preceded by Col de Néronne, a punchy test of 3.9 kilometres at 8.6%. The total elevation gain in the 11th stage of the Tour de France is 4,350 metres.

Climbing Defined by the Number

You’re either going up, down or flat when you’re riding.

For every 100 feet, you go forward, you will also travel vertically for a certain number of feet.

You’ve got your grade if you put a percentage sign after that vertical distance.

For example, suppose you go up two feet as you go forward 100 feet. That’s a 2% grade. Suppose you climb eight feet as you go forward 100 feet. That’s an 8% gradient.

If you want to determine the status of climbs by the numbers, we can look at the classification system used in most professional races.  That would mean climbs are classified as 4, 3, 2, 1 (and Hors Categorie or “HC” in the Tour de France.)  This determination is made by a combination of length in kilometres and average gradient, with the position of the climb in the route and the degree of road surface being lesser determinants.  See below:

  • Category 4 – the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet (70-150m). Length is usually less than 2 miles (3km)
  • Category 3 – climbs of 500-1600 feet (150-500m), between 2 and 3 miles (3km and 4.5km) in length.
  • Category 2 – climbs of 1600-2700 feet (500-800m), between 3 and 6 miles (4.5km and 10km) in length.
  • Category 1 – climbs of 2700-5000 feet (800-1500m), between 6 and 12 miles (10km and 20km) in length.
  • Hors Category (HC) – the hardest climbs of 5000+ feet (1500m+). Usually more than 12 miles (20km) in length

As for gradients, typically, the average gradient has to be above 4% to classify a climb.  Hors Category (HC) generally climbs on average of>10% or has an extreme length at a slightly lesser grade.


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