The Col du Galibier links Valloire with the Col du Lauteret. It is one of the highest sealed roads in France with an altitude of 2645m and has appeared in the Tour de France 33 times, most recently in 2011 when it was used on 2 stages.
Originally the road only passed through the tunnel near the top of the Galibier however the tunnel was closed between 1976 and 2002 for maintenance and the final kilometre up to the modern summit was opened.
The Galibier starts from the North in Valloire but is often coupled with the Col du Telegraph starting at St Michel de Maurienne. The combined climb is 34kms with a short descent between the Telegraph and Valloire. These 2 climbs feature in the popular and well known cyclosportive 'La Marmotte' along with the Glandon and Alpe d'Huez.
The southern ascent starts at the Col du Lauteret and is 8.5km long with an average gradient of 7%.
MAP OF THE COL DU GALIBIER
ROAD BIKE ON THE COL DU GALIBIER
We nearly always climb the Galibier from the Maurinne Valley side as it is closest to Chalet Grange a Charlotte in Les Allues. Like the Col du Glandon
we usually drive to the start in the Maurienne valley which takes about an hour.
The climb begins with the Col du Telegraph, a 12km climb up to 1560m. This is a steady climb that eases off near the top. A short descent down to Valloire takes us to the actual start of the Galibier. The road from here is 17km to the summit and starts off at around 8% for 1km before a 3km stretch of flat road. The next 4kms are a steady 7-8% up to the flat section at Plan Lachat. The climb gets more difficult from here with the combination of average gradients around 8% and the high altitude. The last km averages over 10% just to finish you off.
Like the Glandon we sometimes combine this with the climb up Alpe d'Huez.