In this year 2024, our dear leaders of the Ariégeoise Cyclosportive have decided to temporarily abandon the Plateau de Beille to offer their numerous participants a novel ascent: that of the Plateau de Bonascre!
The Plateau de Bonascre (1373 m), known to the thousands of skiers who frequent the Ax-3 Domaines station every winter, gained prominence in cycling when the Tour de France arrived there for the first time in 2001. However, it was only in 2003 that the Tour organizers decided to precede this summit finish with the ascent of the Port de Pailhères, reaching an altitude of 2001 m for the very first time in a grand Tour…
This final stage version will be “served on a platter” in the upcoming edition of the Ariégeoise… A wordplay that is certainly easy to write but oh so challenging to execute on a bicycle! Just imagine: you’ll have to tackle the 15.3 km at an average gradient of 7.9% of the Port de Pailhères before descending “full throttle” to Ax-Les-Thermes and then launching into the relentless 8.2 km ascent of the Plateau de Bonascre, with an average gradient of 8.2%.
To summarize: in the last 50 kilometers of this Ariégeoise, half will be dedicated to climbs with an average gradient of over 8%, amounting to a positive elevation gain of 1900 m—a true undertaking, considering there isn’t a single flat stretch!
Now, let’s turn to the beginning of the proposed circuit in 2024: the warm-up will be short-lived! From kilometer 14, we dive straight into the heart of the matter: a sequence of Col de la Lauze, Col de Montségur, and Col de la Croix des Morts to begin wearing down the bodies and make an initial selection… Crossing the Plateau de Sault and descending into the Aude gorges to catch a breather, before taking on the infernal duo represented by the Port de Pailhères and Plateau de Bonascre…
Good luck, friends… We’ll be here, as we are every year, to cheer you on and help you overcome the challenge!