This route includes two beautiful climbs in the Pyrenees and we think some of the most picturesque scenery as well.
From the start town of Saint Lary Soulan, you will enjoy a pleasant warm up of 13 km/8mi along the valley road to Arreau – the starting point of the Col d'Aspin. Due to the lower elevation levels of both peaks these are both climbs which can still be ridden in winter when the roads to the larger Col's are cut-off by snow.
The Col d'Aspin is synonymous with the Tour de France having featured in the race no less than 71 times. When riding the Col d'Aspin from this approach it is just over 11kms long and climbs at a fairly gentle pace for the first seven kilometres allowing you to get into a nice rhythm. The closer you get to the summit, the harder the gradient becomes with steady pitches between 7 and 9% for the remainder. The real beauty of the Col d'Aspin climb though is the changing scenery along the roadside. From the village of Arreau you will cycle through tree-lined sections of road before you start to twist and turn through vast meadow expanses.
The clanging of cow-bells are also a constant sound and more prevalent as you make your way to the summit. Large herds of cattle often gather at the top so be mindful of this as you make your way up to to the summit- and especially on the descent down the other side! Before you descend though get off the bike and look around at where you have come from. The winding road all the way down to the valley is visible and you can feel a true sense of achievement at reaching the top.
The turn-off to the climb of Hourquette d'Ancizan is located at Payolle – approximaely 6kms on the descent from the top of the Aspin. You will take a left turn here and begin the 10km climb. The lower slopes climb quite gently and whilst there are some steeper sections towards the top, in the main the gradient remains quite pleasant. As you climb you will find a mix of open both open meadows as well as sections of forest.
On a hot Summer's day you will be thankful for the shade which the alpine forest affords you. Like the Col d'Aspin it is also very common to see grazing animals here – when we climbed we saw cows, horses and donkeys all the way along. You are never on your own in this area of the Pyrenees with the animals for company. From the top it is all downhill to the village of Ancizan and then back to your starting point of Saint Lary.
Distance: 55.8km / 34.7mi
Start elevation: 816m / 2,677ft
Max elevation: 1,564m / 5,131ft
Metres climbed: 1,519m / 4,985ft
Metres descended: 1,519m / 4,985ft
Categorised climbs: 2
Summit views at the top of the Col d'Aspin
Options for food and water can be found at the town of Arreau which is located 12km/7.5mi from the Col d'Aspin Summit. You will also be able to top up supplies at Payolle before you begin the climb of Hourquette d'Ancizan.
It is quite normal to see herds of cows adorning the road whilst cycling the Col d'Aspin.
Length: 11.59km / 7.2mi
Average gradient: 6.7%
Start point: Arreau
Elevation at top: 1,480m / 4,856
Length: 10.1km / 6.28mi
Average gradient: 4.65%
Start point: Payolle
Elevation at top: 1,564m / 5,131ft
The open grazing pasturelands of the Pyrenees means it is common to have animals along the roadside.
The lower slopes of the Hourquette d'Ancizan are stunning, with large grassy meadows all around.
The summit of Hourquette d'Ancizan affords you fantastic panoramic views across the mountain range and valleys below.
Cycling the Col d'Aspin and Hourquette d'Ancizan climbs is just one example of themany great cycling routes in the Hautes Pyrenees which you can enjoy. This area of the Pyrenees is very popular with cyclists who are keen to ride some of the famous climbs of the Tour de France for themselves.
If you are not familiar with this region then, our comprehensive guide will help you plan everything you need for your cycling holiday. The guide includes information such as:
Click here to see a list of cycling routes available in the Pyrenees. We have mapped out 38 rides across five regions within the Pyrenees mountain range for you to explore.