The Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Granon are two brutal and challenging climbs that should go on every avid climber's bucket list of favourites to conquer and see how far one can test one's limits to the full. Approach these vicious ascents with a good fitness level, some endurance time in the saddle, fresh legs and adequate nutrition and fluids close at hand.
Climb your way up to the Cross
The Croix de Fer climb begins from one of the world's most magnificent bike climbing areas. You'll start your ride in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, nestled in one of France's favourite cycling regions, linking the Oisans (where you'll find the legendary Alpe d'Huez) with the Maurienne Valley (where you can find the iconic Galibier). It is also one of the longest-distance climbs in France at almost 30 km. The climb has the most magnificent alpine scenery for the entire climb, with the eastern approach being one of the most beautiful and varied and finishing at the legendary Iron Cross. The Croix de Fer has featured in the Tour 20 times between 1947 and 2022.
There are, in fact, five ways up the Col de la Croix de Fer to the summit: The classic west side (31km), the pass via Col du Glandon (22km), the Classic East side from Saint Jean de Maurienne (30km) and 1,650m of climbing, our approach, the fourth and fifth sides via Col du Mollard, and the 6th approach via La Toussuire.
The Col de Croix de Fer is a stunning route that will immerse you from start to finish as you take in the varying landscapes, and every hairpin bend has something to offer. The first half has gorgeous views of the lush green valley, where you'll go through tunnels and over bridges and ride alongside sparkling streams. The route also has a few welcome downhill sections to recover and soft pedal a bit. Then in the latter half, you'll take in panoramic vast open scenery to feast your eyes that could distract you a bit from the pain in your legs. The icing on the cake is once you reach the summit and see the breathtaking alpine scenery around you. The climb is challenging because of its length and constant uneven gradient.
Estimated time to complete:
3 W/kg: 2 hours
2 W/kg: 2h35
Compare your time with the Croix de Fer Strava KOM
Tackle the brutal Col du Granon featured twice in the Tour
Col du Granon is one of the lesser-known climbs in the Tour. It is a long, steep and secluded mountain pass in the Alps in the Hautes-Alpes in Southeastern France and one that is not for the faint of heart, so be warned. A narrow road snakes steeply up the southern approach, surrounded by a barren and rugged landscape near the top overlooking magnificent vistas of distant alpine peaks emerging majestically out of the valley floors.
It is the sixth most difficult in France and is consistently steep, rarely dipping under 7% with a 1,056m ascent over 12 km. The most brutal 500-metre stretch is 13.9%, and the most challenging kilometre is 12.9%.
The climb has featured in the Tour twice, first in 1986 and again in 2022, when Vingegaard attacked Tadej Pogacar on an exciting and memorable stage. The climb was the fourth highest the Tour had ever been when it finished at its peak. Enjoy the challenge of this spectacular climb and if you can't complete it the first time, try again, as the views from the top are incredible! Embrace the climbs and pace yourself conservatively in an easy gear with a high cadence to delay fatigue. Try the Col du Granon yourself on Rouvy.
Estimated time to completion:
3 W/kg: 1h06
2 W/kg: 1h40
Compare your efforts to the Col du Granon Strava KOM
Register and take part in the EPIC Conquer Climbs in France Challenge and test yourself to the limits on four legendary and famous climbs from the Tour de France.
Earn your reward on completing the challenge routes in Time Trial or Race mode: A 30% discount coupon for the real ROUVY jersey from our e-shop plus a special virtual avatar jersey, helmet and gloves.
Organizers of the Grand Tours aim to plan the most challenging routes that push the riders to their limits, where a succession of brutal climbs with no rest in mountain stages and mountain-top finishes leave no doubts about who the winner is.
The exciting cycling Classics and monuments are Northern Europe's biggest and most famous one-day races. The pros overcome every obstacle they can that comes their way to keep going, and staying motivated to reach their goals and the finish line, experiencing success and defeat on their journey to victory.
Knowing that you can hit your goal distance on a route, a ROUVY event, or keep up with your riding mates on an outside ride can give you confidence. However, getting to that optimal and suitable fitness level can be challenging. With the proper training and consistency, it's pretty manageable. The key is knowing how to train in the appropriate zones and what routes and workouts to use during your precious pedal time. From here, this goal is more easily reachable, and the journey to that goal is more enjoyable.