Sean Kelly - 'Mont Ventoux Should be on your Cycling Bucket List'
Mont Ventoux is one of the most legendary mountains in cycling.
Technically, it is part of the French Alps but the great monolith stands alone towering over the French region of Provence.
It has seen plenty of controversy in its time, and even today, pros treat the climb with respect.
So, is Mont Ventoux for 'pro' cyclists only?
No! You can climb Mont Ventoux! We'll explain how by telling you what the pros and amateur cyclists say about it.
The climb itself is packed with challenge both physical and psychological;
- Physical - no matter if you ride the south (Bédoin) or north (Malaucène) side you’ll encounter demanding gradients.
- Psychological - Ventoux has its own weather system and the last six kilometres are baron limescale rock. The drastic change in your surroundings after emerging from a leafy green forest at Chalet Reynard can have a profound impact on your motivation levels.
At SportActive we say Mont Ventoux is ‘sometimes kind, sometimes cruel’.
Although the ‘Beast of Provence’ is very unforgiving and may discourage the more sure from getting there, with the right training and application you can emerge victorous from the adventure. Yes, the gradients can be incredibly steep, and you can start at the bottom in the sunshine and emerge at Chalet Reynard in cold fog, but getting to the top is not impossible as it might seem at first.
With the right pacing and SportActive magic, you’ll reach the top.
The Legend Sean Kelly says this challenge is a must do on your bucket list!
From Surrey to France
You may think that since it is Sean Kelly with his riding abilities Mont Ventoux is out of reach for most cyclists. Let's not forget he is the second best cyclist of all time!
Not so. Here is Nigel, an amateur cyclist. He’s taken on the challenge and passed with flying colours having never taken on a col of this magnitude before, but managed to climb both the Bédoin and Malaucène ascents in a week.
Sean Kelly’s Ventoux
Sean has ridden the ‘Giant of Provence’ a few times during his illustrious career. Just in case you don’t know, Sean Kelly was the best cyclist in the world for five consecutive years and is ranked the second best cyclist of all time. In short, he knows what he is talking about when he shares his vision of Mont Ventoux with you!
If you don't remember (or if you don't know Sean's career in detail), his best performance on the great mountain was when he won Stage 3 of the 1987 Paris – Nice race. He won it at the finish line of Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux and would win the Paris Nice race that year.
Alright, I want to try it too! But what should I do to climb Mont Ventoux? If I prepare well, it won't seem that complicated?
Yes you are right, preparation is everything to ride Mont Ventoux.
With this in mind, consider doing the following:
Train – To scale the gradients it is important to train properly and to get into a good condition.
As you all know, we give advice from professionals, coaches and informed amateurs on this blog.
The following articles gives you a good starting point on different techniques:
- Welcome to the world of high-intensity interval training
- 2 Cycle Training Techniques to Adopt When Short on Time
- 10 Tips to Climb Stronger and Faster
- Bike Upgrades to Make You go Faster
- Winter Training Tips for a Stellar New Cycling Season
Understand nutrition – Eating well is vital (that's obvious), but there are a lot of facts you may not know!
Take guidance from the following articles:
- Cycling, Hydration, and what you need to Know
- Understanding Carbohydrates in Relation to Cycle Training
How much fluid and food you need for a ride is individual to you and influenced by aspects such as the weather. Hotter days you’ll need more fluid, cooler days, less.
Yes, but all that is theory! How can I be sure that I'm ready to climb Mont Ventoux?
Well, there is no secret there! If you can measure your level, you wouldn't be asking this question.
If you've been training well and feel you are in a good condition, you may well be ready to take on the 'Beast' of Provence.
On the other hand, if you have any doubts, the SportActive coaches and experts can discuss and assess whether you are ready for the challenge, or if you need a specific program: climbing Mont Ventoux can also be the reward of progressing from previous SportActive cycling holidays and training camps.
Discover the Holidays and Training Camps offered by SportActive: the difficulty level is always displayed clearly.
You can start with a Cycling Holiday in Mallorca: your level can be assessed and improved, with advice and recommendations.
Beyond theory, the practical...
The key to good training is to keep cycling motivation levels high.
Once you’ve started to get some miles under your wheels try and do a few sportives, increasing the difficulty. Not only are they a fun challenge, but you’ll learn valuable cycling skills such as pacing, which as the Legend has stated, is vitally important to climb Ventoux.
Why is Ventoux legendary in cycling circles?
Mont Ventoux has seen its fair share of controversy.
- Tom Simpson – In 1967, British rider Tom Simpson tragically died during the 13th stage of the Tour de France on Mont Ventoux. By all accounts, he was under pressure from his manager to take part in the Tour de France.
Simpson came off his bike and gallantly clambered back onto it and rode a few miles before collapsing. There is a monument to where this happened on Mont Ventoux 1km from the summit.
- Pantini vs. Armstrong – One of the great cycling battles occurred in the 87th edition of the Tour de France. Here, Pantini seemed to have victory in his sights only for the yellow jersey of Armstrong to appear and take the lead.
Pantini wasn’t about to give up and twice attacked Armstrong. As the finish line loomed, Armstrong seemed to slow giving victory to Pantini…
At SportActive, we have all competed against Mont Ventoux, (sometimes with difficulty, it's true!), but each time with renewed wonder, proud of our personal successes, and proud to be able to help people discover and rediscover this unbelievable adventure.
You want to book the Mont Ventoux Challenge? Click the link.
You want to know more about Mont Ventoux and learn how to reach the top? We have organised the perfect holiday for you: discover Mont Ventoux and reach the summit.
You are unsure? You want to climb Mont Ventoux but don't feel ready? Contact us directly and one of our coaches will take the time to talk to you!
SportActive - Faster, Fitter, Stronger!