A NEW PHOTO ESSAY OF THE COL DE LA CAYOLLE HERE »
The Cayolle was a climb I hadn’t read much about before traveling into Barcelonnette and the Mercantour National Park. It is nestled in amongst some of the greats, The Bonnette and The Allos, and sits at 7361ft with a winding 29km to the summit from the village of Barcelonnette. It is a beautiful ride. The road surfaces were smooth and hadn’t suffered too much in the winter, but most enjoyable of all was the complete lack of traffic. It is too narrow for the campers and maybe a little too bendy for the motorbikes. The lower slopes are carved out of the gorge and hug the river in the shade in the opening KMs (the gradient fluctuates between 4-5% with one section touching 8-9%). It is a great introduction to help find your climbing legs, and really only started to test in the last 5km when it starts to average between 7-8%. The climb was last in the Tour on stage 9 of the 1973 edition, when it was positioned as a Cat 2 climb and was crested first by Vincente Lopez Carill riding for KAS. So no name marking on the road. It felt like I had found someones secret training ride. Imagine having this on your doorstep for your hill repeats.