Col de Croix de Fer

The Col de la Croix de Fer is not your typical Alpine climb, with interludes where the road ramps up by over 13 percent and small sharp descents to ravines it puts a halt to you getting any sort of rhythm pedalling. This though is all forgiven as the dramatic changes in gradient is matched by the dramatic changes in scenery as you ride from the Lac du Verney, through the dense green forest, past the Lac de Grand Maison and finally towards some of the most spectacular views in the region.

Forever partnering the Col du Glandon, the Croix de Fer shares practically the same summit as its twin HC category climb and within races like the Tour de France and Critérium du Dauphiné it is often seen as a warm up to the climbs such as the Galibier, Col de La Madeleine and Alpe d’Huez but this doesn’t mean it is not a mammoth climb and one to be revered and ridden.   

The Climb in Detail

“The cols of the Croix de Fer and Glandon are, depending on your viewpoint, either the Siamese twins or the snarling two-headed dog.... " - Mountain High


The Ascents

You can ride up the Croix de Fer on two different roads, if you discount the opportunity to reach the summit after climbing the Col du Glandon. From the South and Barrage du Verney it is a ride that can be broken into three different stages, each one with its own nuances. At a modest 5.1% over 30 km don’t be fooled as the road can ramp up to over 13%. If riding from Saint Jean de Maurienne it is more of a familiar relentless Alpine epic, 27.5 km in length at 4.7% with not much of a let up.


The Pass of the Iron Cross

The English translation of the Croix de Fer is the Iron Cross and it is also what welcomes you as you reach the summit after 1300 metres of climbing in the legs. The Iron Cross was erected when the road was completed in 1912 and stands to this day. Also at the summit is an orientation table that points to the snow-capped twin peaks of the Aiguilles de l'Argentière as well as the neighbouring peaks.

It’s place at the Tour de France

The Col de Croix de Fer pass first opened in 1912 to link the two valleys that run from Chambery and Grenoble. It wasn’t though until 1947 that the Tour de France first raced on the Croix de Fer using it in one of its traditionally tough Alpine stages from Grenoble to Briançon won by the Italian Fermo Camellini. Since then it has been used over 19 times in the Tour de France usually as an aperitif for a summit finish. 

"My Bicycle, when I ride my bike, I feel free and happy and strong, liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life, solid dependable silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter-jet, my island, my friend; together we shall conquer that hill and thereafter the world" 

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Alpe dHuez / Oz En Oisans (GNB,CMF,TRN)
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