In a remarkable display of uphill power, Tadej Pogacar set a new record on the Col du Galibier during Stage 4 of the 2024 Tour de France. Pogacar completed the final 8.51 km of the climb, which has an average gradient of 6.88%, in an astonishing 20’48”. This performance eclipsed the previous record of 22’28” set by Nairo Quintana in 2019.

The Col du Galibier is one of the most iconic and challenging climbs in the Tour de France. Nestled in the French Alps, this legendary ascent connects the Maurienne and Briançon valleys. The climb typically begins in Valloire, a quaint alpine village, and rises to an altitude of 2,645 meters, making it one of the highest paved roads in Europe. Spanning approximately 18 kilometres, the Col du Galibier has an average gradient of 6.9%, with the final kilometres reaching gruelling pitches of up to 10%. The climb is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and its demanding nature, often serving as a decisive stage in the Tour de France.

Historical Context of Col du Galibier Records

The Col du Galibier, one of the Tour de France’s most storied and challenging climbs, has been the site of many memorable performances. Here’s a look at some of the best times recorded on this legendary ascent and the stages they featured in:

2011 Tour de France

  • Frank Schleck: 23’34”
  • Andy Schleck: 25’00” (Stage Winner)

In 2011, Stage 18 of the Tour de France was especially significant as it celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first inclusion of the Galibier in the race. The stage took riders from Pinerolo to the highest-ever stage finish at 2,645 meters on the Col du Galibier. Andy Schleck won the stage after a stunning solo attack launched 60 km from the finish on the Col d’Izoard. Despite their strong performances, neither Andy nor Frank Schleck could secure the overall victory, with Cadel Evans ultimately winning the Tour that year.

2019 Tour de France

  • Nairo Quintana: 22’23” (Stage Winner)
  • Egan Bernal: 23’03”

During the 2019 edition, the Col du Galibier featured prominently in Stage 18. Nairo Quintana launched a decisive attack from the early breakaway, setting a then-record time of 22’23” and winning the stage with a solo ride into Valloire. Egan Bernal also showed his climbing strength, clocking in at 23’03” as he moved up to second place in the general classification.

EL BARRACO, SPAIN – AUGUST 29: Louis Meintjes of South Africa and Team Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux competes in the breakaway during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021, Stage 15 a 197,5km km stage from Navalmoral de la Mata to El Barraco / @lavuelta / #LaVuelta21 / on August 29, 2021 in El Barraco, Spain. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

2022 Tour de France

  • Louis Meintjes: 23’47”
  • Peloton: 24’27”

In 2022, the Col du Galibier was included in Stage 11, which travelled from Albertville to a summit finish at the Col du Granon. Louis Meintjes stood out with a time of 23’47”, while the peloton completed the climb in 24’27”. This stage was characterised by aggressive racing and significant time gaps among the GC contenders.

2024 Tour de France

  • Tadej Pogacar: 20’48”

In 2024, the Col du Galibier was the centrepiece of Stage 4. Pogacar’s blistering time of 20’48” not only broke Quintana’s record but also highlighted his dominance in the high mountains. This stage, which took riders from Pinerolo to Valloire, included a 23 km climb with an average gradient of 5.1%, followed by an 18.9 km descent into Valloire. The UAE Team Emirates train brought back memories of the Sky train such was its dominance in pacing up the climb through the likes of Adam Yates, Joao Almeida and Juan Ayuso before Tadej Pogacar took over. Pogacar would ultimately win the stage by 35 seconds over Jonas Vingegaard after a strong descent.