The Col d'Izoard is one of the great Cols of the French Alps. At an elevation of 2.360m (7,746ft) above the sea level, it’s a high mountain pass located in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur. Few Alpine cols are more mythic than the Izoard. The pass is traversed by the scenic Route des Grandes Alpes.
The road over the pass is asphalted. It’s called D902 and links Briançon on the north and the valley of the Guil in Queyras, which ends at Guillestre in the south. The first road over the pass was constructed in 1710, and the current one was built between 1893 and 1897 by an army General, Henry Berge.
The Col d'Izoard is one of the most famous mountain passes in the history. While it’s rightly famous for the part it has played in Tour de France history, the Giro d'Italia has ascended it several times. Also known as the Casse Desert, hosted many great duels in the 1950s between the legendary Italian Fausto Coppi (the first to win the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in the same year) and the French Louison Bobet (the first to win three Tours in succession in 1953, 1954 and 1955) on the Col d’Izoard. A small cycling museum is at the summit, and on the southern side of the Col d'Izoard, 2 kms from the top, there’s a memorial to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet in the Casse Deserte.
At the summit there’s a small bar. To reach the summit of the pass, there are 2 possible routes. From Guillestre the ascent is 15.9 km long and the gain is 1.095 meters with an average percentage of 6.9 %. And from Briançon, the ascent is 20 km long, with a gain of 1.141 meters and an average percentage of 5.7 %.
This pass is open only in summer. The surface of the road is asphalt, and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime. From the green wooded mountainsides above Briançon, to the sandy coloured, eroded cliffs above the Casse Deserte and the Col, the scenery is amazing. There are certain climbs in the world of cycling that capture the imagination, not just because of their difficulty and/or beauty, but because of their place in the annals of cycling history.