One of cycling’s most storied climbs—renowned for its stark moonscape summit, where strong winds can add resistance to an already taxing nearly 9 percent average grade—Mont Ventoux is located in the Provence region of southeastern France. The south approach from Bédoin is the famed ascent raced in the Tour de France, most recently in 2016. As you pedal the rolling terrain that leads to the start of the climb, you might feel like the mountain is watching you. The early slopes deceive, but just after you pass the ruins of Les Bruns, a second-century Roman villa (about three miles in), Ventoux’s signature ramps appear. With no switchbacks to ease the grade in this section, six-plus miles at a biting 9 to 10 percent separate you from the flatter sections at Chateau Reynard.

RELATED: This Is Your Body on a Climb

From there, about four miles remain. Above the treeline, the mistral winds rip. The 5 percent gradient should feel easy after such steep pitches, but after an hour or more of climbing, it seems like purgatory. When you finally reach the summit, the panoramic views of the French countryside are a revelation.

Stateside Alternative: Onion Valley Road, near Independence, California, has a similar elevation profile—and magnificent views of the snowcapped Sierras.

You need: Sustainable power

The key to success on a long, unrelenting climb like Ventoux is improving your maximum sustainable pace and power at threshold, i.e., your natural climbing effort level. Steady state intervals, where you hover just below your threshold, will help your body adapt to sustaining this intensity. (Build even more cycling power with our strength-training program, Maximum Overload.) They’re relatively easy to do but require concentration because it can be easy to let your mind (and your effort) drift.

Here’s how to figure out your general training zones using only your breathing:

Try this workout:

Once or twice a week, after a 10-minute warm-up, ride 10 minutes at a steady effort, just above your endurance comfort zone—similar to when you’re riding with someone who is a bit faster than you. You should be able to speak just a few words at a time. Recover for 5 to 10 minutes (you want to be able to maintain your targeted intensity for the next interval). Repeat two more times. Once those feel easy, do two 20-minute intervals, recovering for 10 to 20 minutes between. Eventually, work up to one 30-minute effort.

All the details:

Elevation gain 6,200 Ft

Location 44.1741° N, 5.2787° E

Distance 13.7 miles

biking Mount Ventoux
The final push uphill feels like riding through a moonscape.
Andia/UIG via Getty Images


biking Mount Ventoux
The staggering views can help mask the burn in your legs.
Harry Engels/Getty Images for Laureus


Headshot of ​Selene Yeager
​Selene Yeager
“The Fit Chick”
Selene Yeager is a top-selling professional health and fitness writer who lives what she writes as a NASM certified personal trainer, USA Cycling certified coach, Pn1 certified nutrition coach, pro licensed off road racer, and All-American Ironman triathlete.