A Guide to Cycling the Col d’Agnes

The Col d’Agnes is a Category 1 cycling climb in the Ariege region in the Pyrenees. Since 1988 it has featured as a climb in the Tour de France on six occasions, most recently in 2017 on stage 13. From Massat the climb is 17km / 10.5mi long and climbs 950m / 3,117ft in elevation with an average gradient of 5.2%. When you begin cycling the Col d’Agnes you will notice the first third of the climb is actually fairly flat, and so the gradient does stay consistently around 7-8% for the remainder.

Col d'Agnes.jpg

Basilus, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Climb Statistics

Col d’Agnes (Massat Approach)

Length: 17km / 10.5mi

Average gradient: 5.2%

Start point: 650m / 2,132ft

Elevation at top: 1,570m / 5,150ft

Category: Category 1

Col d'Agnes gradient profile from Massat

Nearest town: Massat

Facilities at top: No

When to ride: Year round

Road condition: Good – Asphalt

Nearest climb: Port de Lers

Number of approaches: 2

Through road at top: Yes

Col de Port (eastern approach)

Length: 16.3km / 10.5mi

Average gradient: 4.7%

Start point: 481m / 1,478ft

Elevation at top: 1,251m / 4,104ft

Category: Category 1

Gradient Profile Col de Port (Terascon sur Ariege approach)

Nearest town: Terascon-sur-Ariege

Facilities at top: No

When to ride: Year round

Road condition: Good – Asphalt

Nearest climb: Col d’Agnes

Number of approaches: 2

Through road at top: Yes

Detailed Cycling route – Col d’Agnes via Col des Port

Ride distance: 75km / 47mi

Elevation gain: 1,982m / 6,503ft

First climb – Col des Port

This cycling route starts and ends in the town of Terascon-sur-Ariège and travels in an anti-clockwise direction. You could of course choose to do this circular loop the other way if you wish. You will tackle two climbs on this route, the first being the Col des Port before you then begin cycling the Col d’Agnes. Both climbs are of a similar length and average gradient and are never too steep. The first climb on this route is the Col des Port. The climb to the summit begins immediately as you depart Terascon-sur-Ariège. With a gentle starting gradient you will be able to get into a good rhythm as you make your way towards the top. Some challenging gradients kick in halfway through the climb, however this eases off as you approach the summit. From here the route is now downhill to the town of Massat – the base of the Col d’Agnes climb.

Cycling the Col d’Agnes from the Massat Approach

Cycling the Col d’Agnes from Massat is the easier approach and the first section of the climb is more of a false flat as you trace the Arac River gorge. After 5kms the gradients begin to steepen and you will even hit double digits which is a definite change to those gentle slopes at the start. This is where the switchbacks on the climb start and you break out of the forest. Just three kms from the summit you will reach the top of the Port de Lers which is taken in as part of the climb to the Col d’Agnes.

The road flattens out and there is a restaurant here if you need to stop and refuel. A little further on and the small lake of Etang de Lers appears. This small mountain lake can be quite inviting for a quick swim on a hot summers day. From here the summit is almost in reach. A few more switchbacks and you will be there. Enjoy the scenery and those mountain peaks – you may even see some paragliders enjoying a scenic flight. From here you will enjoy a nice downhill run all the way back to Terascon-sur-Ariège.

Top Right: Paragliders can often be seen soaring above the Col d’Agnes climb.

Bottom Right: View down towards Vicdessos where you will descend after reaching the summit of the Col d’Agnes.

Port de Lers- route Massat.JPG

Anthospace, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Port de Lers- vallée Vicdessos.JPG

Anthospace, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Other climbs you can cycle while in the area

There are several climbs in this area of the Ariège which you can look to include on a cycling holiday. We have listed some of these below. Click through the links to read about the climbs in more detail.

Col de Portel

At 1435m of elevation the Col de Portel takes the honor for being the highest mountain pass in this part of the Ariège. The first category climb featured in stage 11 in the 2008 Tour de France. Discover more about the climb here.

Anthospace, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Col de Péguère 09- Caugnous side- back view on the Estibat peak.jpg

Anthospace, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Col de Péguère

A very challenging climb in the Ariège which also includes the section of the Mur de Péguère – can you pedal your way through the steep gradients of over 18%! Read more about the climb here.

Col de la Crouzette

From the town of Biert the southern approach of the Col de la Crouzette is just over 8km in length with an average gradient of 7.8%. Read more about the climb here.

Col de la Crouzette 09- southern side- statistics of climb.jpg

Anthospace, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Planning a cycling holiday in the Pyrenees

If you are not familiar with the Pyrenees, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the Pyrenees with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself depending on which mountains you would like to ride
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from the Pyrenees
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click below to start planning your cycling trip to the Pyrenees.

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Looking down a layer of cloud in the valley from the summit of Col du Tourmalet