Port de Balés

Col de Balès 1

Image courtesy of Paternel 1 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

A relative newcomer to the Tour de France, the climb to the summit of Port de Balés has been a regular since its first introduction in the 2007 edition. Of course you may recognise it from the 2010 edition where Contador appeared to take advantage of Schleck’s dropped chain, a scenario which seemed to split the cycling fans. Everyone however agrees this is a tough climb. The route we have mapped out below is via Bagnéres de Luchon. Whilst this isn’t the approach taken by the Tour de France, it is still tough. Make sure to let the scenery of the mountains take your mind off the gradients as the views from this side are stunning.

Long, steep climb

The Port de Balés climb is long at just under 20kms / 12mi in length. It also contains some extremely steep pitches – with one short section over 13%. The changes in gradient will certainly keep your legs guessing. Once you are past the halfway point on the climb the profile of the climb eases and allows you some recovery. The final quarter of the climb sees some steep pinches up to 12%. You’ll certainly be pleased to see the summit sign. Be mindful the descent from the other side can be quite technical. Of course you could choose to turn back on yourself and descend the way you have climbed.

Quick Stats

Distance: 67.7km / 42mi

Start elevation: 633m / 2,076ft

Max elevation: 1,755m / 5,758ft

Climbing: 1,646m / 5,401ft

Descending: 1,646m / 5,401ft

Categorised climbs: 1

Food and water

We recommend topping up with food and water from your starting point at Bagneres de Luchon.

Port de Balés

Length: 19.5km / 12mi

Average gradient: 5.75%

Start point: Bagnéres du Luchon

Elevation at top: 1,755m / 5,758ft

Port de Balès

Image courtesy of:Paternel 1 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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

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