The Tour des Stations Sportive links the ski stations in the magnificent panoramic countryside with vineyards, pastures, meadows, majestic mountains, quaint villages and famous ski resorts. The entire 242km ultra-distance will take cyclists around 11 hours to complete.
In this review, we will be riding a much shorter distance over one of the Tour des Stations climbs called the Col du Lein from the village of Vollèges. Vollèges, famously known for its bread-making, encompasses a 500-year-old bell tower from its starting point. Vollèges is the capital of the wine-producing commune of the area marking the way to the Val de Bagnes, coming from the direction of the Rhône Valley. The Le Merdenson river, joining the Dranse de Bagnes, flows close by and runs along the right of the route early on, although invisible from the road. For an immersive sound experience, you can listen to this sound bite from YouTube of a river during the first 5 kilometers.
Once out of the village, you will find the road narrows and follows a wall of craggy cliff faces, after which you'll be surrounded by thick and lush green forests and rolling meadows while you wind your way along this quiet, traffic-free stretch of road. Once out of the village, you start to ascend further, zig-zagging your way through 15 hairpin bends to finally gain 828 meters with a 7% average gradient reaching a maximum of 13% in places. Riding this route on Rouvy is quite manageable if you have a 32T chainring on your rear cassette, a mountain bike or a gravel bike. This setup will allow you to spin the legs a bit more comfortably at a higher cadence and manage the journey to the summit.
Not far from the top, for less than a kilometer, you'll begin to see an unpaved road unfold before you, and you will start to feel and hear the sound of crunching gravel beneath your wheels over the final kilometer in this serene forest as you proceed to the summit. The sun's rays try to break free of the clouds and mist, blanketing the tops of the alpine forest all around you in this magical setting before you find yourself finally reaching the summit merging with the clouds. The unpaved road provides a unique feel to this classic climb which connects Saxon in the valley of the Rhône with Vollèges in the Val de Bagnes.
How to ride it:
Try to use the first few kilometers to spin the legs at a high cadence of 80-90rpm and at 60-70% FTP which can serve as a good warmup for what's to come. After that, you can increase your pace by gearing up and lowering your cadence, slowly pick up your intensity. By doing this, you are saving your highest effort for the last 4km and, in so doing, preserving your energy for reaching the summit comfortably.
Here is the Strava KOM for this climb called Vollèges to Col du Lein.
Kenny Nijssen, a semi-professional road racer from the Netherlands, currently riding for the SNC Cycling Team, conquered the ROUVY KOM in a speedy time of 31:56 at 5,9w/kg on a Tacx Neo 2. See if you can beat it!
I will be taking a group ride along this route on Wednesday 25th August and 1st September. Every Wednesday at 4h30pm CEST I take a social ride. I hope you'll be able to join me! Anyone of any fitness level can register no matter how slow and manage it with ease and finish simultaneously with everyone else even on my climbs. This is enabled through an algorithm that speeds you up at a % reality level. The further back you are, the easier it becomes. Please note, it's not a race, it's a social sightseeing trip!! Please would you stay in the group and enjoy following the leader. See you there! :-)