Mont Ventoux (1,909m) is an iconic climb among cycling fans and sits alongside Alpe d’Huez and Col du Tourmalet as the most popular climbs in the Tour de France.
The word ventoux means windy in French. It can get very windy at the summit, with wind speeds as high as 320km/h. The last six kilometers are exposed without any trees. Some cyclists likened this to cycling on the moon.
Mont Ventoux is often referred to as the Beast of Provence or Giant of Provence, as it’s the highest mountain in the Provence region in France.
There are three ways to climb Mont Ventoux.
- From Bédoin (southwest)
- From Sault (southeast)
- From Malaucène (east)
Starting point : Bédoin
Bédoin is located southwest of Mont Ventoux. The climb from Bédoin is Hors Catégorie (HC) and harder than the one from Sault. It’s 21.4km long and averages 7.4%.
The first 5.8km is slightly easier with a 3.9% average gradient. From there onwards, it averages 8.9% to the summit. It’s common to have strong winds once past the tree lines with 6km to reach the summit.
|Mont Ventoux from Bédoin|
|Strava segment||Mont Ventoux from Bédoin|
Starting point : Sault
Sault is located southeast of Mont Ventoux. The climb up from Sault is Category 1 and the easiest.
The climb to Mont Ventoux from Sault is 24.1km long and averages 4.9%. The last 6km are the same as from Bédoin as the road converges in front of Chalet Reynard.
|Mont Ventoux from Viscos|
|Strava segment||Mont Ventoux from Viscos|
Starting point : Malaucène
The climb up to Mont Ventoux from Malaucène is the least known of the three approaches. It’s similar to the Bédoin approach, at 20.5km and averaging 7.6%.
The advantage of riding from Malaucène is that the climb is better sheltered against the wind.
|Mont Ventoux from Malaucène|
|Strava segment||Mont Ventoux from Malaucène|
Best time to ride Mont Ventoux
The best time to ride up Mont Ventoux is from May to June and September to October. The weather is milder with fewer peak season crowds.
|January||Road is closed|
|February||Road is closed|
|March||Road is closed|
|April||The roads might still be closed depending on the weather and the direction you’re riding from, especially in early April.|
|May (best time)||There might still be a bit of snow at the top, but the roads are open. The summer heat is milder.|
|June (best time)||The weather is ideal for cycling without the peak summer crowd.|
|July||Peak season with summer school holidays in UK and US. The Le Festival d’Avignon attracts a lot of tourists, and you can see the sunflowers and lavender in full bloom.|
|August||Peak season with summer school holidays in UK and US. Heat is at its more intense and makes the ride much harder.|
|September (best time)||Summer tourists are gone by now and the weather is cooler with occasional thunderstorms.|
|October (best time)||Minimal tourists and great weather for cycling.|
|November||The roads might be closed towards the end of November, depending on the weather and route.|
|December||Road is closed|
Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France
Mont Ventoux has appeared on the Tour de France 17 times and hosted a stage finish 10 times, dating back to 1958.
In Stage 11 of 2021, Mont Ventoux was summited twice, from Sault and Bédoin. Julian Alaphilippe was the first rider to the summit from Sault and stage winner Wout Van Aert from Bédoin.
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