Today we hit the high point of the trip, the Col du Galibier. However, the Col du Télégraphe, a sort of lead-in pass, needs to be conquered first.
The Tour de France has the “Big Four” – the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees, Mont Ventoux in Provence, the mountaintop finish at Alpe d'Huez, and the Col du Galibier, often the highest point of the Grande Boucle
. And it's this mythic latter peak that we have lined up for today. The King Stage, unquestionably. We can take it very relaxed on the approach, however, as the initial kilometres along the Arc Valley are flat. It really gets going then in Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, where the Col du Télégraphe begins. We're still amongst the highlands here, largely surrounded by woods. A short transition descent into the Valloire ski resort, and then we're on the Galibier ascent itself. And it will be as though our nerves have been dispersed on the breeze, for you'll rarely find a more impressive alpine panorama, and every curve opens up new delights. And, finally, eventually, another sensational view of the 4000 m Écrin massif awaits us at the pass. For the descent we then need to refocus, and our thighs will be burning on the short climb back up the Télégraphe – but today we stood on the Galibier, so the blood, sweat and tears were absolutely worth it!