Luz Ardiden


The road up to the drab ski station at the top of Luz Ardiden wasn’t built until 1975, and the Tour de France didn’t visit it until another 10 years later. But that doesn’t mean that the climb is anything but beautiful or that that hit has ever lacked drama when the Tour has visited.

The climb is deep in the Hautes-Pyrénées, along with its similarly illustrious neighbours the Tourmalet and Hautacam. It climbs out of Luz Saint Sauveur and passes the Solfarino Chapel. While on some climbs you can only see the next hairpin bend at the summit doesn’t appear until you get close, with Luz Ardiden you can see the peak and what awaits you from the beginning of the climb.

The Climb in Detail



“Luz Ardiden and the Tour stage in 1988 is one of the great moments of my career. For someone who cannot climb but who lives among the mountains, to finish second in such a spectacular setting in my home region was just like winning,” Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle

The Climb

With nowhere to go from the top, Luz Ardiden is always at the end of the stage and there’s only one way up. The town of Luz Saint Sauveur is at the foot of the western side of the Col du Tourmalet. Depending on where you measure from, Luz Ardiden is between 12 and 13 kilometers, but after you leave the town and ride alongside the Gave de Luz you take a right and descend for close to a kilometre. The climb itself begins once you pass the Solfarino chapel and climb through the Gorge de Luz with views across to the Hautacam. You get some shelter here until Sazos, but this is where it starts to get tough as you exit the trees and hit the hairpins and the gradient rears up to a 12 percent maximum.

 

Summit in sight

With nowhere to go from the top, Luz Ardiden is always at the end of the stage and there’s only one way up. The town of Luz Saint Sauveur is at the foot of the western side of the Col du Tourmalet. Depending on where you measure from, Luz Ardiden is between 12 and 13 kilometers, but after you leave the town and ride alongside the Gave de Luz you take a right and descend for close to a kilometre. The climb itself begins once you pass the Solfarino chapel and climb through the Gorge de Luz with views across to the Hautacam. You get some shelter here until Sazos, but this is where it starts to get tough as you exit the trees and hit the hairpins and the gradient rears up to a 12 percent maximum.

Its place at the Tour de France

The Luz Ardiden climb isn’t a regular fixture at the Tour. It didn’t visit until 1985 and the logistics of getting the ever-increasing convoy of team busses, VIP cars and the publicity caravan to the top of a one-way climb and then off again means it’s not always top of the list when the Tour’s route planners are scouting things out. But the climb has had more than its share of drama. In 1985 it was the scene of the complex dynamics within the La Vie Claire team, the Team Sky of its day. The American Greg LeMond had finished third the previous year and team leader Bernard Hinault recruited him as a domestique de luxe to help him try to overturn Laurent Fignon who had finished on the top spot. LeMond was clearly stronger than his French teammate throughout the race but was held back by team orders to protect Hinault from attacks from the Columbian Luis Herrera, Spaniard Pedro Delgado and from the Irishman Stephen Roche. Heading over the Tourmalet, Hinault didn’t have the legs to follow and had to let the group of LeMond, Roche and Delgado go. LeMond was denied permission from his team manager to go on the attack and take the general classification lead. Hinault managed to cling onto his lead and publicly pledged to support LeMond the following year. LeMond won in 1986, but the victory came despite frequent attacks from his teammate Hinault.

More recently, Luz Ardiden was the scene of drama when Lance Armstrong hit the deck after getting his handlebar caught in a spectator’s musette. Armstrong had headed into the 2003 Tour looking less dominant than in recent years while his biggest rival Jan Ullrich seemed in the best shape since his 1997 victory. Armstrong going down in a freak crash was make-or-break time for Armstrong’s 2003 Tour ambitions. He chased and caught the group containing Ullrich and Iban Mayo, before attacking and taking 40 seconds.  


"Thank goodness something had shocked him into action. From that moment I knew Lance would win again,” Johan Bruyneel on Armstrong's 2003 crash

Take on this iconic climb, search below


Alpe D Huez (GVA,CMF,GNB)
Number of Travellers
Want to take your bike with you? Click here to view available flight suppliers

 

 

Want to talk to us about this climb?
Destination
Select Date
Number of travellers
To prevent us receiving spam emails, please type the text that appears above into the entry box and submit.
ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.