Cycling the Col de la Croix de Fer via Col du Glandon

Col de la Croix de Fer is located in the Savoie region of the French Alps at an altitude of 2,067m. It is considered an HC climb due to its difficulty and has made 19 appearances in the Tour de France since it was first used in 1947. From Saint Jean de Maurienne the summit is 29.5km in distance at an average gradient of 5.5%, while from Allemond the summit is 29km in distance at an average gradient of 4.6%. It is located 3km from the Col du Glandon which gives you the option of summiting two climbs in a single day.

This suggested cycling route takes in both the mountain passes of the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Glandon. These two climbs both feature regularly in the Tour de France. In the warmer months, the roads to the summit are filled with amateur cyclists looking to experience these climbs for themselves. We have mapped out a cycling route from Bourg d’Oisans which tackles both of these cols and will make for a challenging and memorable day on the bike. Discover the route in detail below.

Gipfelkreuz Col de la Croix de Fer 02

Image courtesy of Zehnfinger 17:48, 2. Sep 2006 (CEST) / CC BY-SA 2.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)

Two Tour de France climbs in one ride

With over 2000m/6700ft of climbing this route will be a good test of the legs. From Bourg-d’Oisans you will have a nice gentle warm-up before the climbing begins in earnest. Whilst the average gradient for each of the climbs looks quite favorable, there are some steep descents included in the route which means you will be facing some long steep climbing sections well into double digits. The first of these sections comes just after you pass Lac du Verney with the climb to Rivier. Long sections with gradients hovering around 9 – 10% finally flatten out once you reach Le Rivier d’Allemont.

Once you leave the village you will descend sharply down a set of switchbacks before the road kicks up quite steeply once more. Welcome to climbing in the alps. This section all the way to the Grand Maison dam is the hardest section of all. Once this section is behind you, it is easier to find a climbing rhythm that will take you all the way to the top. You will reach an intersection just 2.5kms from the summit where you can decide to either head to the Col du Glandon or continue on the road to the Col de la Croix de Fer. Whilst your legs will no doubt be tired, we really recommend you tackle both climbs on this ride before turning around and descending back the way you came.

Suggested route

Distance: 79.5km / 49.4mi

Start elevation: 720m / 2,362ft

Max elevation: 2,067m / 6,781ft

Metres climbed: 2,041m / 6,696ft

Metres descended: 2,041m / 6,696ft

Categorised climbs: 1

Food and water

We recommend topping up with food and water once you reach Le Rivier d’Allemont as this will be your last opportunity to do so on this route. There is a drinking fountain once reach the village.

Highlights

  • This route takes you alongside two large dams – the Lac du Verney and the Lac de Grand Maison.
  • Tackling two climbs made famous in the Tour de France.
Gradient profile of Col du Glandon from Allemont

Col du Glandon

Length: 26.5km / 16.5mi

Average gradient: 4.5%

Start point: Allemond

Elevation at top: 1,924m / 6,312ft

Gradient profile of Col de la Croix de Fer from Saint Jean de Maurienne

Col de la Croix de Fer

Length: 29km / 18mi

Average gradient: 4.6%

Start point: Allemond

Elevation at top: 2,067m / 6,781ft

Gradient profile for Col de la Croix de Fer from St Jean de Maurienne

Col de la Croix de Fer

Length: 2.5km / 1.6mi

Average gradient: 5.7%

Start point: Col du Glandon

Elevation at top: 2,067m / 6,781ft

Discover our comprehensive guide to Cycling in the French Alps

This route of the Col de la Croix de Fer and Col du Glandon is just one of many great cycling routes in the French Alps that you can enjoy. Whether you wish to challenge yourself on the climbs of the Tour de France or prefer to take in a ride on flatter terrain, there is something for all levels of fitness and the ability to discover in this region.

If you are not familiar with the cycling available in the French Alps then our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:

  • a map of the French Alps with climbs and towns marked
  • where to base yourself whist on your cycling holiday
  • cycling hotels and lodges
  • bike hire outlets
  • getting to and from the French Alps
  • non-cycling attractions and activities in the region

Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the French Alps.