Cyclocalendar heroes the Tour de France. In a series of articles we focus on the stage cities and the gran fondo's and sportives of thee region. Today: stage 7, which starts from Millau.
Fanss of the tv show Topgear will probably know Millau (22,000 inhabitants). This is where you'll find the highest bridge in the world; a technical masterpiece. The British TV show made several spectacular TV recordings here. Millau is located just west of the Cevennes; the Mont Aigoual is only 50 km away. The city of Millau is an average large provincial city with everything that goes with it: stores, restaurants, weekly markets and an indoor market.
The peaks around Millau are slightly less high than the famous climbs in the Cevennes, but are still serious. A nice example: Col de Poulzinières? Cycling in this area is beautiful but in summer it gets awfully hot here. So hot that you actually have to go out very early every day, not to come home like a roast sausage. This region is rather unknown, and therefore unloved by tourists. The terrain? A bit of everything. Sloping stretches, steep walls and well running, longer climbs. It's flat nowhere.
From Millau a beautiful gran fondo is (or rather: has been) organized, La Cyclassic Ronde des Causses. The numbers? 150 km and 3000m for the longest distance, divided over 5 longer climbs. On the way you'll pass 3 canyons: the Gorges du Tarn, the Gorges de la Jonte, the Gorges de la Dourbie. You will finish at the Causse Noir (aka La Pouncho), according to the organization a 'mythical' climb. The profile on Cyclingcols is slightly less impressive, but it will probably not be easy. And there's even more good news: 90% of the course is completely car-free. Really an event to keep an eye on. Could well be combined with a training week in the Cevennes. Flying is very well possible at Montpellier. The bad news is that this GFo could not take place in 2019 or 2020. Let's hope that in 2021 it will be possible to ride again, because this is definitely a region that deserves more attention.
Not far from Millau you'll find a very good option. We mention this one specifically because the last 50 km of yesterday's stage follows the same route. At least this year, since the course changes from year to year. We're talking about the Cycl'Aigoual here which, you guessed it, finishes on top of Mont Aigoual. A mountain we all know of course from the famous book The Rider by Tim Krabbé. By the way, Laurens ten Dam and Stefan Bolt have recently made a beautiful documentary about it, which you watch here (English subs). This GF has taken place on the 29th of August this year. The numbers? 125 km with 2600m. All good.
In the next edition: Cazères.