Lacets de Montvernier (782 m) and Col du Chaussy (1 533 m)
“Lacets de Montvernier” (or in English translates to Shoelaces of Montvernier). So, tie your laces, or more to the point, tighten your shoes. This climb will knock your socks off.
The Lacets de Montvernier is the perfect entree to the Col du Chaussy and onto the Madeleine, if you dare. The Lacets de Montvernier captured the cycling world’s attention after it was first featured in the 2015 Tour de France. Ironically this first appearance in a stage of the Tour was won by a Frenchman, Romain Bardet.
There are 17 hairpins, tightly packed into this 3kms climb. Where the road has been literally carved out of the mountain. The road and hairpins of Alpes d’Huez are wide enough for buses to climb to the ski resort, this road is narrow and closed in. It means there is less traffic, great for cyclists. The hairpins will quickly approach you and you’ll lose count on the way up; when descending, take care it becomes a very technical descent.
From the village of Pontamafrey, the road follows the Montvernier switchbacks. At the top of the switchbacks, you have another 9kms to the Col du Chaussy pass. You cross the village of Montvernier before heading towards Montpascal. The road winds through the forest and then borders the cliff. Arriving at Montpascal, there are only a few short kilometers before arriving at the pass and scenery changes to wide open Alpine pastures. With more than 1,000m of elevation gained and an average gradient of 8%, this means it’s not only the hairpins that make this a special ride.
The Col du Chaussy sits on a small plateau where you can practice Nordic skiing in winter. In 2012, the forest road which descended towards Montaimont was paved and now you can do this big loop by bike. This remarkable initiative was in response to a growing demand from cyclists who had to go up and back the same way. The most athletic cyclists can now try to link the Cols du Chaussy and Madeleine. Indeed, thanks to the repair of this road, it is now easier to link these two passes, via Montaimont.
HISTORY OF THE LACES OF MONTVERNIER:
Before the 2015 Tour de France, this road could only be viewed by photos hidden in a geography book and was only known by locals. Rivaling Alpe d’Huez with its famous 21 switchbacks, the Lacets de Montvernier took 6 years to be carved from the rock. The route was first imaged in 1900 to connect the villages of Montvernier, Montbrunal, and Montpascal. Work started in 1928 and finished in 1934. In the final year, a team of 36 men worked by hand to complete the construction. These small laces, stacked on top of each other, clinging to the side of the mountain, constitute one of the most spectacular routes in the Savoie, and a real pleasure for cyclists.
After capturing the cycling world’s attention during the 2015 Tour de France. A real craze around these laces emerged. Several remarkable videos and even a song have highlighted this beautiful road of Maurienne!