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Col d'Aubisque

Its cycling history, statistics, photos and map

Statistics | History | Photos | Map |

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The Col d'Aubisque is a high mountain pass in the French Pyrenees. The road over the mountain pass is the D918, running east-west.

The west facing ascent starts from Laruns in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department. Continuing from the Aubisque's crest, the descent (still on the D918) crosses into the Hautes-Pyrénées department and then a short ascent to the top of the Soulor (close to where French road D126 joins the D918) and continues to what is considered the eastern terminus of the pass in Argelès-Gazost.

East face ascents (and descents) often include the Soulor, which should really be considered part of the Aubisque. After the Soulor, there is a short, minor descent before beginning the final climb to the top of the Aubisque.

The Aubisque has also been used in the Vuelta a España.

For cyclists, the Col d'Aubisque is a formidable ascent. It is a regular feature of the Tour de France, being one of the first high mountain passes to be included in the Tour.

Col d'Aubisque statistics:

Climbing from the east, starting in Argelès-Gazost and going over the Soulor (1,474 meters) on the way to the Aubisque.
Average gradient: 4.1%
Maximum gradient (happens on the Soulor portion of the climb): 11%
Length of climb: 30.1 km
Elevation at start: 463 meters
Elevation at crest: 1,710 meters
Elevation gain: 1,247 meters

Climbing from the west, starting in Laruns:
Average gradient: 7.2%
Maximum gradient: 13%
Length of climb: 16.6 km
Elevation at start: 519 meters
Elevation at crest: 1,709 meters
Elevation gain: 1,190 meters

Col d'Aubisque history in the Tour de France:

Until 1910 the Tour de France had not gone into either the high Alps or Pyrenees. Tour father Henri Desgrange had reluctantly sent racers over several modest mountains in 1905. It was a grand success. But the man behind adding climbing in the Tour, Alphonse Steinès, had bigger ambitions for the Tour de France. He want to send racers into the high Pyrenees.

In 1910 Tour boss Henri Desgrange was badgered by assistant Alphonse Steinès into sending the Tour de France over high mountains for the first time. The centerpiece of this climbing revolution would be a day in the Pyrenees that would include ascents of the Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet, Aubisque and Osquich. Journalists who doubted the riders could perform the inhuman task labeled the day's 326 km stage the "circle of death". Octave Lapize won the stage but as he walked his bike up the Aubisque he called the Tour officials "murderers" [Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins!] for inflicting such an arduous race on the riders.

Since that day the Col d'Aubisque has become a regular part of the Tour de France. Only the Tourmalet has been climbed more often.

It was on the Aubisque in the 1911 Tour that Paul Duboc, who was riding brilliantly, fell to the ground, vomiting. He had been poisoned. Duboc survived and the malefactor was never caught.

Wim van Est found himself in the Yellow Jersey in 1951. Though he was unexperienced in climbing and descending the great cols, he was determined to remain in the lead. He went off the edge on a gravely curve (this being before roadside barriers had been put up) and fell about 20 meters before stopping on a ledge. He was rescued with a rope of tubular tires knotted together. The tires were ruined, but Van Est was saved. The lack of spare tires forced his team to withdraw from the race.

As of 2013, there have been only two stage finishes at the top of the Aubisque, 1971 and 2007.

Col d'Aubisque Photos:

Octave Lapize and Pierino Albini on the Aubisque

Octave Lapize leads Pierino Albini on the Col d'Aubisque in stage 10 of the 1910 Tour de France.

Gustave Garrigou on the Aubisque in the 1911 Tour de France

Gustave Garrigou ascends the Aubisque in stage 10 of the 1911 Tour de France.

The lead group ascends the Aubisque in the 1912 Tour

The lead group ascends the Aubisque in the 1912 Tour.

Firmin Lambot crest the Aubisque in the 1913 Tour

1913 Tour de France, stage 6: Firmin Lambot goes over the crest of the Aubisque.

Rober Jacquinot climbs the Aubisque in 1914

1924 Tour de France, stage 6: Robert Jacquinot climbs the Aubisque.

Bottescchia leads Pelissier and Aimo on the Aubisque

1925 Tour de France, stage 8: Ottavio Bottecchia leads Bartolomeo Aimo and Francis Pélissier up the Aubisque. Bottecchia won the 1925 Tour de France.

Felice Gremo on the Aubisque in the 1931 Tour

Felice Gremo ascends the Aubisque in stage nine of the 1931 Tour.

Luoison Bobet leads up the Aubisquein the 1954 Tour

Louison Bobet leads up the Aubisque in the 1954 Tour.

Guyot, izier and Wright go over the Aubisque in 1968

Bernard Guyot (putting a newspaper under his jersey for insulation), Maurice Izier and Michael Wright go over the Aubisque and head downhill in the 1968 Tour.

Jeremy Roy descendds teh Aubisque in 2013

Jeremy Roy descends the Aubisque in stage 13 of the 2011 Tour de France.


Aubisque map

Map of the Col d'Aubisque. Laruns is at the left border and the crest of the Aubisque is the red dot. The top of the Soulor is near the the center of the D918, where the D126 joins. Argèles-Gazost is on the far right.

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