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Published: April 17th 2015
The Maurienne valley is home to some of cycling's most iconic climbs, climbs that are synonymous with the Tour de France, such as the torturous path up to Col de la Madeleine, the steep, scenic ascent to Col du Glandon, or the epic Col du Galiber.
One short climb in the valley that slips under the radar somewhat is the Lacets de Montvernier, a 4km route with 18 switchbacks that seem to be sculpted into the mountain side. As we had climbed Madeleine and Galibier on the previous two days we were supposed to be taking a day off but we couldn't resist the Montvernier switchbacks. We only found out about this when researching other climbs but what a discovery it was, as it's one of the most incredible climbs I've ever done.
The Lacets climb starts from Montvernier village, a few kilometres north west of St Jean du Maurienne. From the valley you might not even see the climb but as you get into the village its steepness becomes apparent. You can just about make out the church at the top which marks the finish and which seems to hang over the cliff side.
Despite its forbidding
appearance it doesn't feel so bad once you get started and the relatively short ascent makes it an enjoyable struggle. I stopped quite often for pictures so perhaps that helped. This is a short enough climb to do twice, once maybe to take pictures and once to pedal all the way.
We ended the climb just past the church where the road starts to level out. This road leads up to Col de Chaussy and eventually reaches the road to Col de la Madeleine.
But the best bit was still to follow. We crossed a field and walked through trees to a spectacular viewpoint on a cliff top overlooking the Lacets. This is the best viewpoint, as you can see all the Lacets at once and the climb appears incredibly steep. Lacets means laces in French and that's a good description of the switchbacks, as from here they appear tied in tightly to the mountain side. I don't think we'd have found this place on our own so thanks to the guy who runs the excellent cycling challenge website for the tip (http://www.cycling-challenge.com)
Cyclists from all over the world are attracted to the Maurienne Valley but we
didn't see any on this climb. In 2015 the Lacets de Montvernier will feature in the Tour de France for the first time and no doubt it will become another iconic climb in this spectacular valley so go now if you want to see it before the crowds.
Tot: 2.165s; Tpl: 0.098s; cc: 34; qc: 121; dbt: 0.0819s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.7mb