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Video: Climb the Col du Glandon with the Col Collective's Mike Cotty

"One of the most enchanting mountains I’ve ever experienced"...

Beautiful but beastly. That's the Col Collective's Mike Cotty's description of the Col du Glandon, the subject of his latest video.

It's 19.7km long and tops out at 1,924m above sea level, with an average gradient of 7.3%. A 1 in 12 climb may hold no fears at sea level, but on Glandon other terrors lurk beside its slope and altitude. 

Cotty says that Glandon was where he knew that his 677km Alpine epic was not going to be a walk in the park. He hit the latter slopes of the mountain, "and suddenly beauty turned into the beast within.

"The wind funnels downs from the top of the mountain as the gradient kicks up and hangs above double figures for what seems like forever."

The Tour de France has included the Col du Glandon as a categorised climb 13 times. It was first crossed by the race in 1947, when Edward Klabiński, the first Pole ever to ride the Tour was first over the summit.

It will figure in stage 19 of the 2015 Tour which will climb Glandon on its way from St Jean de Maurienne to La Toussuire on July 24; riders will continue to the Col du Croix de Fer, just to add to the pain. Five days before, the Etape du Tour sportive will see thousands of riders suffering on the same route.

But despite the torture, Cotty loves this climb.

"The Glandon may have made me hurt so very much in the past but it’s also one of the most enchanting mountains I’ve ever experienced and for that reason I find myself continually coming back for more.

"There are moments when you’re barely moving and then suddenly, as you approach the summit, you can feel pure life being breathed back into your lungs.

"It’s as if the mountain gods have taken a ribbon of tarmac and thrown it out of the sky from 2,000m to form a 20km playground of pure escapism.

"Now that’s the sign of a truly special climb. Anyone that’s doing L’Etape du Tour in 2015 is in for an absolute treat."

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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johnnymcg259 | 9 years ago

The lack of traffic reminds me of those Topgear tv pieces where they take a car out to review and the roads ahead are empty.........staged. Personally I'd love to 'stage' this cycling review!  1

ronin | 9 years ago

It must be great descending it...

Actually, it seemed pretty quiet. Any road without motorized vehicles is pretty amazing to me.

timb27 | 9 years ago

Me too. Rode up the Glandon last year on the Marmotte, didn't recognise any of it from the video!!

bjornalkema replied to timb27 | 9 years ago

@ Spatulala
when you ride the marmotte, you ride the Croix de Fer up until 2km below the top, take a sharp left and 100m you`re on top of the Glandon.... you had your first pause there and then rode the Glandon down... (so the video shows it up) ...

Airzound | 9 years ago


He does seem to be riding rather slowly at many points.

DrJDog | 9 years ago

Oh good (I'm doing the Étape)

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