Col de Menté - Saint-Béat (Pyrenees)
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Click on the profile to enlarge (🔍) Col de Menté from Saint Béat is one of the most challenging climbs in the Ariège Pyrenees. The consistently high gradients offer little respite and there is also little shade to be found on the steep slopes.
Roads & TrafficThe road surface is in very good condition throughout.
There is little traffic on the climb.
Col de Menté is a legendary climb of the Tour de France, set on the edge of the Ariège Pyrenees. It has never hosted a stage finish, but the steep slopes have seen many riders crack and it is certainly a mountain for genuine climbers. Riders who have crested the summit first include Lucien Van Impe, Richard Virenque and Robert Millar - hitting at the pedigree required to do well here.
The Col de Menté is perhaps more famous for its role in the 1971 Tour de France. The Spanish rider Luis Ocaña; was winning the race by seven minutes when he was attacked on the descent of the Col de Menté by Eddy Merckx in horrendous stormy conditions. The latter rider crashed and took Ocaña with him.
While Merckx was able to get up and continue - eventually riding to overall victory in the Tour - Ocaña had to be taken to hospital and had to wait until 1973 before he claimed his first overall win at the race. There is a plaque on one of the hairpins high up on the Saint Béat side which marks this event.
In terms of scenery, the climb from Saint Béat is the less interesting of the two sides. There are pleasant views back down into the valley and the hairpin bends are good fun to ride, but the top is covered by trees and the scenery is not as stunning as on other climbs ni the region.
Subject to weather Col de Menté is open throughout the year.
Other sidesCol de Menté can also be climbed from Ponte de l'Oule in the east.
Port de Balès
Col de Peyresourde
Col du Portillon
Col de Portet d'Aspet