Col de Spandelles cycling climb

The Col de Spandelles is a challenging cycling climb located in the Haute Pyrenees at an elevation of 1 378m. There are 2 approaches to the top of the Col de Spandelles. From Argeles Gazost, on the southern side, the climb is 15.3km in length at an average gradient of 5.9%. While on the northern side, the climb starts from Ferrières and is 10.4km in length at an average gradient of 8.2%. The Tour de France will use this climb for the first time in the 2022 edition of the race, climbing on the western side after first summiting the Col d’Aubisque.

We have included lots of information about this climb for you in this article. Despite many trips to the Pyrenees over the years we only climbed Col de Spandelles ourselves for the first time in 2022. We choose to ride it from the Argeles Gazost side before descending to Ferrières and then heading up Col du Soulor. The Col de Spandelles has plenty of steep pitches, but also some periods of gentler gradients to recover slightly as well.

Climb profile – Col de Spandelles

Gradient profile for Col de Spandelles from Argeles Gazost

Col de Spandelle’s southern approach

From the south, the climb to Col de Spandelles starts in the village of Argeles Gazost. It is 15.4km in length and has an average gradient of 5.9% before reaching the top. You gain 956m in elevation from the start to the finish of the climb.

The gradients hit double figures straight from the start and are consistently high for the first 6km of the climb. The middle of the climb gives you some reprieve, with 3km of gentle gradients before ramping up again for the final push to the summit.

Gradient profile for Col de Spandelles from Ferrieres

Col de Spandelle’s northern approach

The northern side of the climb starts in the village of Ferrières, nestled deep in the mountains. From the bottom, it is 10.4km in length at an average gradient of 8.2% and you will ascend 825m to the summit. The road twists and turns as it winds its way to the top with stunning views all around.

This side, unlike the other, offers no reprieve from the gradient and it is a challenging climb so be prepared. The road is very narrow as you ascend and not much wider than a bike path. Be mindful of vehicles around blind corners. The Tour de France will climb this side for the first time in 2022.

Practical information about cycling Col de Spandelles

If you are considering a trip to the Pyrenees to ride the Col de Spandelles this section has lots of practical information to help you plan. We also include links to some of the cycling routes we have that incorporate this climb.

Where to stay

To cycle the Col de Spandelles we would recommend staying on the southern side of the climb. This would include the town of Lourdes and the villages of Argeles Gazost, Saint-Savin, and Pierrefitte Nestalas. Staying in this area gives you access to no fewer than 8 Tour de France climbs including Hautacam, Col du Soulor, Col d’Aubisque, and Col du Tourmalet. This is a very popular destination for cycling holidays and there is a wide range of accommodation options to choose from.

The northern side of the mountain is much more isolated and does not have the facilities or access to other climbs you will find on the eastern side. This is a beautiful part of the Pyrenees and if you do want to get away from it all for a little while this area would fit the bill. You find mostly self-contained gites as an accommodation option rather than hotels or lodges.

You can read our article The Best Base for cycling in the Pyrenees for lots more information about cycling holidays in the Pyrenees. It also includes a host of other information about visiting the Pyrenees.

You really get a sense of being deep in the Pyrenees on the Col de Spandelles.

Getting there

The Col de Spandelles is located in the Haute Pyrenees department in southwest France. It joins Argeles Gazost in the east, with the village of Ferrières in the west. It provides an alternate route between the 2 villages and saves having to drive via Lourdes and through the foothills.

Bike hire and bike shops

The towns of Lourdes, Argeles Gazost, and Luz Saint Sauveur all have plenty of options to choose from if you are looking to hire a bike or if you need a mechanic or parts.

Food and drink

The Col de Spandelles is in a more remote part of the Pyrenees so we recommend having everything you need before you leave for your ride. Argeles Gazost is the largest town with cafés, boulangeries (bakeries) and supermarkets for food and drink. There is a cafe at the top of Col du Soulor which is an option if you choose to include this climb as well in your day out. Ferières on the northern side of Col de Spandelles is a small village with no cafés or shops.

When is Col de Spandelles open?

Being in a more remote part of the Pyrenees this road is closed over the winter months. The exact opening and closing times depend on the season but expect it to be closed between November and April. Riding between May and October are the best months to cycle this col.

How long does it take to climb?

How long it takes you to climb the Col de Spandelles will depend on a host of factors. Looking at Strava leaderboards see the fastest times for males being 47 minutes from Argeles Gazost and 33 minutes from the other side. For females, the fastest time from Argeles Gazost is 57 minutes, while from the northern side it is 39 minutes. It is a tough climb from both sides and you will encounter sections of road that are over 10% in gradient.

Suggested cycling routes

We have put together a few cycling routes that encompass Col de Spandelles which you can access by clicking the link. Each of the suggested routes includes a GPX file which you can download to your device for navigation purposes.

Other facts about Col de Spandelles

The Col de Spandelles has never featured in the Tour de France prior to 2022 but has been included as a climb in the Route du Sud in 2012.

Stage 18 of the 2022 Tour de France will feature the Col de Spandelles for the first time. The stage starts in Lourdes and winds its way through the foothills before heading up the Col d’Aubisque. After the descent from the Col d’Aubisque, the riders will make the very short climb to the Col du Soulor before a nice descent to Ferrières where they will start the Col de Spandelles. From the top of Col de Spandelles, the riders will drop down to Argeles Gazost before the final climb to the Hautacam where the stage finishes.

More information about the Pyrenees

We have lots of other information about visiting the Pyrenees for a cycling holiday to help you plan and discover what is on offer.

  • Destination guides – head over to our destination guide pages to research specific locations including accommodation options, how to get there and more.
  • Cycling routes – we have over 40 different cycling routes in the Pyrenees for you to look at. There are plenty of options also for those who are not as keen on the famous cols
  • Saint Girons to Foix voie verte – 40km of car-free cycling through the foothills of the Pyrenees

More information about visiting France

Be sure to check out other sections of our website to help you plan your cycling holiday to France. We have put together lots of information to help you plan your trip all on the one website. From practical information such as using your mobile phone, visa requirements, and getting money out to destination guides including the French Alps, Nice, Provence, and Bordeaux.