The Tour de France, the famous annual race in France, rates each climb within each day's stage, in an attempt to characterize the difficulty of the climb as it will be experienced by a rider in the race. A Tour official drives over the route months prior to the race and places each climb in one of 5 categories (one of which is HC, “outside categories,” for the most difficult climbs). This official takes into account such factors as:
Here are some examples of categories assigned to climbs in the 2007 Tour de France.
|Port de Larrau||14.2||8%|
|Port de Pailhéres||16.8||7.2%|
|Port de Balés||19.2||6.2%|
|1||Col de Menté||7||8.1%|
|Col de Peyresourde||9.7||7.8%|
|Col de Marie-Blanque||9.3||7.7%|
|Col de la Colombière||16||6.7%|
|Col de la Pierre St.-Martin||14||5.2%|
|2||Col de Portet d'Aspet||5.7||6.9%|
|Col de Port||11.4||5.3%|
|Col de St.-Sarraile||9||5.2%|
|3||Côte de Corlier||5.9||5.5%|
|4||Côte de Pujos||1.3||6.4%|
|Côte du Pal de Pailhès||4.5||3.6%|
|Côte de Parniers||3.9||2.9%|
This system of rating climbs has been picked up by cyclists elsewhere, but there seems to be no objective specification for arriving at a rating. In any particular location, however, a category 1 will be more difficult than a category 2, and so on. In some areas cyclists use a hill rating (HR) system in which HR4 is the most difficult climb and HR1 the easiest.
An old story is that the Tour ratings are made by driving an old Citroen up the hill. A hill that the car can climb in third gear is a category 3; in second gear, a category 2; and so on to a hill so steep that the car can't even climb it, which is an HC.
Copyright © 2007 Sizes, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last revised: 1 August 2007.