How does it stack up?
Vic alps vs. French pyrenees
Peaks Challenge Falls Creek has long been regarded as one of the hardest rides in Australia, but how does it stack up against a mountain stage of the Tour de France (TDF)?
Stage 19 from Lourdes to Laruns was the final mountain stage of 2018 TDF. With more than 4,000 metres of vert over 200km it’s not dissimilar to our own Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. It also features three key climbs – Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col de l’Aubisque. But how do they stack up against the three key peaks of the Victorian Alps?
Tawonga Gap vs Col d’Aspin
Col d’Aspin / 12km / 799m gain / average 6.5%
It’s after the first two kilometers that this climb really gets going and the climbing hits you. It also has five major switchbacks which mean that wind conditions change constantly. However, you push through and keep on climbing, and a view of the beautiful surroundings makes it all worthwhile.
Tawonga Gap is the first climb of Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, and the smallest, but it should not be underestimated. After starting with a descent down Falls Creek this is the first serious effort required. It has a few tight hairpins, but generally has a consistent gradient.
Mount Hotham vs Col du Tourmalet
Col du Tourmalet / 18.5km / 1358m gain / 7%
The Col du Tourmalet is situated in Midi-Pyrenees, starting from Luz Saint Sauveur. The ascent is 19km long and over this distance you climb 1,404 metres, giving and average gradient of 7.4% and a max of 10.2%.
Taken as a whole, it’s a long tough climb eased a little by a relatively gentle middle-third, but punctuated by a few very steep sections. The first of these, the Meg, is a 300-metre stretch with a gradient of 11.8%. The second steep section, CRB Hill, is a 700-metre stretch with gradients in excess of 10%. And finally, you confront the Diamantina, the last and probably toughest section of the climb (1.4km at 9%).
Falls Creek vs Col de l’Aubisque
Col de l’Aubisque / 16.6km / 1190m / avg. 7.2%
This is where real work of Stage 19 starts and even includes a 13% piece while riding towards the Cascade de Valentin, on the left side of the valley. Until you reach the ski station of Gourette, the climb never really gives you time to breath, with gradients around 10%.
With the road from the Omeo Highway to the edge of Falls Creek at Windy Corner only being sealed in 2009, this climb was unknown before Peaks Challenge Falls Creek. However, those that have tackled the climb will not forget it quickly. With the first 8 kilometres averaging around 10% gradient, it has been known to push many a cyclist to their limit.
How does Peaks Challenge Falls Creek compare?
Pro cyclist takes on the challenge
“The day was Saturday, the month was December, the conditions were perfect, but the route was yet to be established. I began considering my options while driving down; Tawonga, Hotham and back; Falls, Tawonga, Falls again; and then my legs gave my brain an idea they would later regret. The illustrious 3 Peaks Challenge loop.”
Pro cyclist, Jesse Featonby, from Drapac Pat’s Veg Cycling team, tells of his hunt for mountains as he built up his training for the 2017 Herald Sun Tour. An event where he would compete against three time Tour De France winner Chris Froome and go toe to toe with cycling’s most exciting prospect, Estabehn Chavez.Read full story