From Pico del Veleta the route follows for about 60km NorthCape-Tarifa route. Then a new route heads to Tarifa. 45km longer but 1100m less vertical climbing. The last 50 kilometers along the coastline will lead the riders to the last checkpoint on the route.
45-SouthWest finishes in Tarifa the southernmost point of continental Europe, where the Tuna wind vane marks the end of the adventure!
Situated in a unique geographical location, this Spanish port town is the ultimate destination also for those completing the NorthCape-Tarifa and Iberica-Traversa routes. Popularly known as “the tuna” serves as the finishing point for many riders who have been on the ride of a lifetime.
“Tarifa is the place to finish, with plenty of cheap but good options for accommodation, a chilled and relaxed café, and bar culture in the old town, blue skies, beach, and warm sea. The perfect place for a few days of recovery” Mike Sheldrake NorthCape-Tarifa finisher.
Pico del Veleta will be the next goal for the riders. To get there, the route will lead the riders south through the expansive fields of olive trees to the Renaissance town of Sabiote situated at kilometer 3700 from the start and only 190km from the top of Europe’s highest cycling climb – checkpoint 9.
Land of Giants – the perfect place to meet the spirit of Don Quixote. The route will guide riders through the land of windmills starting in Sierra de la Paz (Campo de Criptana). Riders will continue south to the windmills of Alcazar de San Juan a municipality and city located in the northeast of the Ciudad Real province, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha.
Further west riders will reach Herencia. The town is located on part of the eighth stretch of Don Quixote’s route. Windmills are placed on each of two medium-sized hills found behind the village.
Till the next checkpoint, the route is as flat as it can be even though we are now on Spanish soil! Terra de Gigantes will be a good warm up before the big climb that waiting for the riders in Sierra Nevada.
Heading to Spain, the route will lead the riders over Col du Pourtalet which is a border between Spain and France at an elevation of 1.798m above sea level. The first checkpoint in Spain is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Hoya de Huesca comarca, Aragon.
The Mallos de Riglos are huge natural sculptures up to 300m tall and are among the most spectacular landscapes in the Spanish Pre-Pyrenees.
Coming over Col d’Aspin riders will reach the statue of Eugène Christophe who famously re-welded his broken fork in a forge in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan. This happened under the control of officials in the Tour de France 1913. At that time fully self-supported, and no outside help was allowed.
Sainte-Marie-de-Campan is the starting point of the Eugène Christophe parkour. The 17km climb with an average gradient of 7.37% will bring the riders to the CP6 at the top of Col du Tourmalet at an altitude of 2,115m.
The control point will be by The Giant of Tourmalet which symbolizes Octave Lapize, the first rider to cross the Col du Tourmalet in the Tour in 1910, the first Tour going over a high mountain pass. The parkour continues on the fast downhill followed by Col du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque, the finish of the parkour.
In 1913 the sixth stage of the Tour was done in opposite direction: Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin, and Peyresourde. The start of the 326km between Bayonne and Luchon was at 3 am in the morning. After his accident, Christophe had to make the downhill from Tourmalet by foot and lost a likely TdF win, but he finished the stage and the Tour. “I had bruised kidneys and painful legs confessed Eugène Christophe. But the physical pain was little compared to my pain, seeing all those I had let loose pass me by again.”
CP6 Col du Tourmalet: https://45southwest.com/checkpoints/#CP06
After descending from Mont Ventoux and heading further about 200km west, riders will reach CP5.
Cirque de Navacelles – the valley which was formed about 3 million years ago by glacial erosion and is one of the widest canyons in Europe and one of the most remarkable natural sites in France. 1400 meters separate the belvederes that face each other above Navacelles.
There will be a nice and smooth descent of 300m to the bottom. From there, riders will have a short climb to get to the other side of the canyon which will come with a reward – a magnificent view.
From Nice, the route will lead riders through Gorges du Verdon which with its exceptional panoramas is the link between CP3 and CP4. Some say it’s a cycling paradise, we advise riding along the deepest canyon in Europe in daylight – spectacular views.
Heading further southwest through picturesque Provence riders will come to Sault located at 754m a small village where the climb to CP4 starts.
From Sault is 25 km to the top of Giant of Provence with the summit at 1,910m. The start of the climb is gradual and leads through meadows and lavender fields. It’s very peaceful too with minimum traffic. At Chalet Reynard, the route joins the road from Bedoin. The landscape on the last six kilometers changes to white moon-like rocks which gives the impression of eternal snow. It might be quite windy while reaching CP4.
Mont Ventoux is a regular Tour de France highlight since 1951. The ascent has been classified as Hors Categorie by the Tour de France since 1987.
After passing Col de Tende riders will continue on the mountainous terrain heading southwest to Nice. There will be a 100 km section with 3350m downhill and before arriving at the harbour in Nice there will be 3 small passes with a total of 1500m of climbing: Col de Brouis, col de Brause and col de Nice.
A sign of “I love Nice” is located on the east side of the 7km long Promenade des Anglais which is the next goal for the riders.
Nice is part of the Tour de France since 1947 and the last Grand Depart was in Nice in 2020.