Mont ventoux is a relatively ‘level’ mountain compared to the sharp inclines of the alps or Pyrenees. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it is an easy climb.
Here is some background taken from Wikipedia.
Mont Ventoux, although geologically part of the Alps, is often considered to be separate from them, due to the lack of mountains of a similar height nearby. It stands alone to the north of the Luberon range, separated by the Monts de Vaucluse, and just to the east of the Dentelles de Montmirail, its foothills. The top of the mountain is bare limestone without vegetation or trees, which makes the mountain’s barren peak appear from a distance to be snow-capped all year round (its snow cover actually lasts from December to April). Its isolated position overlooking the valley of the Rhône ensures that it dominates the entire region and can be seen from many miles away on a clear day.
And some stats:
- South from Bédoin: 1617 m over 21,8 km. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.43%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy: 3.9% over 5,8 km, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 8.9%. To serve as a comparison the climb of L’Alpe d’Huez is about 13.8 km at an average gradient of 7.9%. The last kilometres may have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 1h30m-2h30m for trained amateur riders. Professional riders take 1h-1h15 min.
- Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de Francebicycle race, which has ascended the mountain fifteen times since 1951. The followed trail mostly passes through Bédoin. Its fame as a scene of great Tour dramas has made it a magnet for cyclists around the world.
- The climb by bike from Bédoin to Mont Ventoux is one of the toughest in professional cycling. The figure for the average gradients per kilometre can be found in many books and websites on cycling. Accurate measurements result in an average gradient for the total climb of 7.43%, based on a horizontal distance of 21,765 metres and an ascent height of 1,617 metres. The actual distance ridden is 21,825 metres.
About the name of the mountain.
Mont Ventoux (Ventor in Provençal) is a mountain in the Provence region of southern France, located some 20 km northeast of Carpentras, Vaucluse. On the north side, the mountain borders the Drômedépartement. It is the largest mountain in the region and has been nicknamed the “Beast of Provence”, the “Giant of Provence”, or “The Bald Mountain”. It has gained fame through its use in the Tour de France cycling race.
As the name might suggest (venteux means windy in French), it can get windy at the summit, especially with the mistral; wind speeds as high as 320 km/h (200 mph) have been recorded. The wind blows at 90+ km/h (56+ mph) 240 days a year. The road over the mountain is often closed due to high winds. Especially the “col de tempêtes” (“storm pass”) just before the summit, which is known for its strong winds. The real origins of the name are thought to trace back to the 1st or 2nd century AD, when it was named ‘Vintur’ after a Gaulish god of the summits, or ‘Ven-Top’, meaning “snowy peak” in the ancient Gallic language. In the 10th century, the names Mons Ventosus and Mons Ventorius appear.
View from the summit