Photo Credit: Harro Heijboer / Flickr
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It connects Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and Briançon via the col du Télégraphe and the Col du Lautaret. The pass is closed during the winter. It is located between the massif d'Arvan-Villards and the massif des Cerces, taking its name from the secondary chain of mountains known as the Galibier.
Before 1976, the tunnel was the only point of passage at the top, at an altitude of 2556 m. The tunnel was closed for restoration until 2002, and a new road was constructed over the summit. The re-opened tunnel is a single lane controlled by traffic lights, which are among the highest such installations in Europe.
Details of the climb
From the north, starting at Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (including the Col du Télégraphe), the climb is 34.8 km long, gaining 2120 m. in height (an average of 6.1%). The actual climb to the summit starts at Valloire and is 18.1 km long at an average of 6.9% (height gain: 1245 m). The maximum gradient is 10.1% at the summit.
From the south, the climb starts from the Col du Lautaret (el. 2058 m.) and is 8.5 km long at an average gradient of 6.9% (height gain: 585 m) with a maximum of 12.1% at the summit.
The Tour de France
The Col du Galibier was first used in the Tour de France in 1911; the first rider over the summit was Emile Georget, who, with Paul Duboc and Gustave Garrigou were the only riders not to walk.
The original summit was at 2556 m.; while the tunnel was closed from 1976 until 2002, the tour route went only over the pass closer to the mountain peak at 2645 m. In 2011, the Tour de France went through the tunnel for the first time during the 19th stage from Modane Valfréjus to L'Alpe d'Huez.
At the south portal of the tunnel, at the edge of the road, there is a monument to Henri Desgrange, instigator and first director of the Tour de France. The memorial was inaugurated when the tour passed on 19 July 1949. Whenever the tour crosses the Col du Galibier, a wreath is laid on the memorial. The "Souvenir Henri Desgrange" is awarded to the first rider across the summit of the highest mountain in each year's tour. In 2006, the prize of 5000 euros was claimed on the Col du Galibier by Michael Rasmussen.
Since 1947, the Col de Galibier has been crossed 31 times by the Tour de France. It was scheduled to be used in 1996, but was left out at the last minute due to bad weather. As a result of snow on both the Col de l'Iseran and the Col du Galibier, the scheduled 190 km stage from Val-d'Isère to Sestriere in Italy was reduced to a 46 km sprint from Le-Monetier-les-Bains which was claimed by Bjarne Riis, resulting in him taking the yellow jersey which he retained to the finish in Paris.
In the 2008 Tour, the Col du Galibier had been crossed on 23 July in the 210 km stage 17 from Embrun to Alpe d'Huez.
The 2011 Tour climbed the Col du Galibier twice to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the pass in the Tour de France, including the first ever summit finish, won by Andy Schleck after a 60 km solo breakaway. This was the highest ever stage finish in the Tour de France.
Description from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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