Cyclist #42: Col du Portet, the new giant of le Tour
Tougher than Alpe d’Huez, higher than the Tourmalet and more stunning than the two combined – the climb of Col du Portet is but a fledgling in Tour de France folklore, but two years ago this gruelling ascent helped shape a historic edition of cycling’s biggest race. Cyclist can’t resist but take a closer look.
From the editor,
There’s no place quite like home. While we strive to provide Cyclist readers with an assortment of destination ideas and reasons to travel far and wide, sometimes the best Big Rides are those in your own backyard. Jugiong, for example, is one of the few Hume-side towns that offer a strong enough reason to divert from the main road for a pit stop en route to Sydney or Melbourne. And yet we’d never thought it a place for cycling. How wrong we were! Whisper-quiet country roads, a smattering of gravel and all the little things that make a Big Ride truly great – this little town of 200 is worth a visit.
Our ride around Jugiong and the Hilltops Region was on the shorter side, but for those with a thirst for longer, there’s the ever-more-popular bike packing ‘races’ or adventures to consider. A few years ago this niche segment would have never attracted pro riders, but now you’ve got the likes of Port Macquarie-born Lachlan Morton taking on events like the GBDuro, Dirty Kanza and the Leadville 100. Who knows – maybe we can convince his EF Education First DS, Jonathan Vaughters, to give him a leave pass for next year’s Gravel Grit? It’s a question we may just ask him ahead of our next issue, which will feature a sit-down with the team owner himself (hint: subscribe and get it delivered to your door). In the meantime, grab the latest issue to get the scoop from Sheyleigh Walsh as she packs the car for a gravelling weekend of camping and good times.
One of the great things about living in Australia is that our festive season is arguably the best time of year for cycling. Holidays, quiet(er) roads and great weather; ticking off activities like the #Festive500 isn’t out of the question, and while the motivation is high over summer, it also means putting the pieces in place for our European summer destinations, such as the French Pyrenees. Once the TDF fever settled down, we got the chance to ride the new Giant of le Tour with the team at VeloTopo – the Col du Portet – and golly it’s a brute. Lock it in for your next European escape – you won’t regret it, we promise. In the meantime, happy holidays from the team at Cyclist.
High Country celebration
The gateway to the Victorian Alps, Bright, once again plays host to the High Country Women’s Cycling Festival (HCWCF), an event aiming to motivate female cyclists to conquer some of Australia’s most iconic climbs on March 20-22, 2020. The three-day event features full on-road support as the bunch takes on the stunning Mount Buffalo ascent. And because it wouldn’t be a true festival without plenty of celebratory activities, the itinerary stretches beyond just cycling – think optional skills clinic, post-ride Lycra party, group dinner and much more. The HCWCF is an event not to be missed – see hcwcf.com.au for more information.
Exploring the Southern Tablelands
If our latest issue has got you excited for adventure, you’re going to love what we’ve got planned for our next edition. Here’s a look at what to expect from Cyclist #43, on sale from 14 February, 2020. To download our Taralga Big Ride route, go to strava.com/routes/22342720 and follow the Cyclist Australia/NZ Club to keep on the pulse for all our upcoming journeys. Or, if you prefer to keep all the twists and turns in the traditional brevet card format, here’s all the info you need to get around the course.
Starting at the Tangled Vine Cafe in Taralga, take Taralga Road northbound for around 400m until you reach the outskirts of town, where you take a left onto Stonequarry Road. After summiting a fairly gentle 2km-long climb, you’ll hit the first section of gravel at around the 7km mark. 15km into the ride, Stonequarry Road turns into Golspie Road; from here, enjoy a few kilometres of rolling terrain before you hit the fastest descent of the day at 23km.
Zooming over the Bolong River (which was more of a creek when Cyclist visited), the road now pitches upwards for around 15km until you hit Peelwood Road, where you turn left. Keep an eye over your shoulder – this is potentially the busiest road of the day, but by that we mean a couple of cars rather than a flood – during the brief pedal to the sleepy town of Laggan, where you join Laggan Road and set forth for the larger town of Crookwell, which you’ll reach at the 48km mark.
Refuel or refill your bottles (or both) on the main strip, and continue along Goulburn Street for less than a kilometre before swinging left onto Harley Road, where the gravel action kicks off again. Gravel becomes tarmac once more at the intersection with Roslyn Road, where you take a left and continue straight until you hit Woodhouselee Road, where you take a right. When you reach the small settlement of Roslyn, turn left onto Middle Arm Road, and after 2km, another hard left onto Carrabungla Road, back on the gravel. Bear right onto Mt Rae Road, and put your head down and punch over the unsealed rollers for just over 10km until you hit the sealed stuff again at the intersection with Taralga Road at 85km. From here, all that’s left to do is freewheel the remaining kilometres back to the pub.
Click the images below to download the full route.