Hors catégorie

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Hors catégorie (HC) is a French term used in stage bicycle races to designate a climb that is "beyond categorization". The term was originally used for those mountain roads where cars were not expected to be able to pass.

The HC climb is the most difficult type of climb in a race. It is more demanding than a Category 1 climb which in turn is more demanding than a Category 2 climb and so on. The easiest category is Category 4.

These five categories are defined by their steepness and length. In addition, their position on the route can play a role. For instance, a climb that would normally be a Category 1 climb can become a HC climb if it is the final climb of a stage.

The average HC climb in the Tour de France from 2012 to 2016 is 16.1 kilometers long and has a grade of 7.4. There are around 7 HC climbs per Tour.[1]

History[edit]

When the mountains classification in the Tour de France originated in the 1933 Tour de France, there was only one type of mountain. Points were given to the first cyclists to cross the mountains, starting with 10 points for the first cyclist, going down to 1 point for the tenth cyclist. After the Second World War, in the 1947 Tour de France, the mountains were divided into two categories, the first and the second category. The first category mountains gave 10 points to the first cyclist, similar to before 1939, and the second category mountains gave only 5 points to the first cyclist.

The division in categories was successful, and two years later, in 1949, the third category was added. These were even smaller mountains, which gave 3 points to the cyclist reaching the peak first.

In 1962, the fourth category was added. The points system was also revised: the first category now gave 15 points for the first cyclist, the second category 10 points, the third category 5 points and the fourth category 3 points. Although the fourth category disappeared in 1963, it came back again in 1964. The system with four categories kept in place until 1978, although the points distribution changed over the years.

In 1979, four categories was considered not enough, and another category was added. Instead of adding a fifth category, the Tour organisation decided to add a hors catégorie.

Tour de France[edit]

The following climbs used in the Tour de France have been ranked "Hors catégorie" at least once. Climbs that have been announced for the 2017 Tour are indicated in italics. Note, however, that this does not guarantee that the climb will be HC in this edition of the race.

Col Height (m.) No. of times
visited
No. of HC
climbs
First time
as HC climb
Most recent Profile[2] Notes
Agnel, ColCol Agnel 2744 2 2 2008 2011 [1] The first appearance of the climb in 2008 wasn't planned initially, as the stage was designed to go through the Maddalena Pass. Due to a seismic risk on the pass, the route was changed three months before the start of the race and the Col Agnel was included.[citation needed]
Alpe d'Huez, Alpe d'Huez 1850/1860 30 26 1979 2015 [2] In 2013, the Alpe was visited twice on Stage 18, firstly crossing below the summit at 1765m before returning as the stage finish at the summit (1850m).
Andorra Arcalis, Andorra Arcalis 2240 3 3 1997 2016 [3]
Annecy-Semnoz, Annecy-Semnoz 1655 2 1 2013 2013 [4] In 1998, the Semnoz (known as Crêt de Châtillon) was part of the route and was a 1st category climb. However, during the stage, racers went on strike to protest against the excessive police measures. The stage, although fully completed, was declared void.[citation needed]
Col d'Aubisque 1709 48 14 1980 2012 [5] No. of times visited includes stage finishes at Gourette
Balès, Port dePort de Balès 1755 4 4 2007 2014 [6]
Beille, Plateau dePlateau de Beille 1780 6 6 1998 2015 [7]
Bonette, Col de laCol de la Bonette 2715/2802 4 2 1993 2008 [8] Highest Hors Catégorie climb to date.
Chamrousse, Chamrousse 1730 2 2 2001 2014 [9]
Croix-de-Fer, Col de laCol de la Croix-de-Fer 2067 18 10 1989 2015 (x2) [10] Shares the same slopes from the col du Glandon on two sides.
Galibier, Col duCol du Galibier 2556/2645 56 19 1979 2011 (x2)
2015
[11] Highest stage finish in the history of the Tour de France.
In 2015, the climb was scheduled to be used, but ultimately wasn't due to landslides. The Col de la Croix de Fer was used instead.
Glandon, Col duCol du Glandon 1924 13 5 1981 2015 [12]
Grand Colombier, Col duCol du Grand Colombier 1501 2 2 2012 2016 [13] Only climb in the Jura mountains to have received the Hors Catégorie rating.
Grand Saint-Bernard, Col duCol du Grand Saint-Bernard 2465 5 1 2009 2009 [14]
Granon, Col duCol du Granon 2413 1 1 1986 1986 [15]
Hautacam, Hautacam 1560 5 5 1994 2014 [16]
Col de l'Iseran 2770 5 2 1992 2007 [17]
Isola 2000, Isola 2000 1900 1 1 1993 1993 [18]
Col d'Izoard 2360 33 7 1986 2014 [19]
Joux-Plane, Col deCol de Joux-Plane 1691 12 7 1981 2016 [20]
La Plagne, La Plagne 1980 4 4 1984 2002 [21]
Larrau, Port dePort de Larrau 1573 2 2 1996 2007 [22]
La Ruchère-en-Chartreuse, La Ruchère-en-Chartreuse 1160 1 1 1984 1984 [23] Lowest Hors Catégorie climb to date.
Lombarde, Col de laCol de la Lombarde 2351 1 1 2008 2008 [24]
Luz Ardiden, Luz Ardiden 1715 8 8 1985 2011 [25]
Madeleine, Col de laCol de la Madeleine 1993 25 17 1980 2013 [26]
Mont-Cenis, Col duCol du Mont-Cenis 2083 5 1 1999 1999 [27]
Pailhères, Port dePort de Pailhères 2001 5 4 2005 2013 [28]
Pla d'Adet, Pla d'Adet 1669 10 5 1981 2014 [29] 1982 Tour de France finish was planned to end at the col de Portet, but was ultimately cancelled and the finish line was moved back to Pla d'Adet.[citation needed]
Pra Loup, Pra Loup 1630 3 1 1980 1980 [30] The most recent climbing is in 2015 with category 2
Puy de Dôme, Puy de Dôme 1415 13 2 1983 1986 [31] Only climb in the Massif Central to have received the Hors Catégorie rating
Soudet, Col duCol du Soudet 1540 6 2 1987 2006 [32]
Soulor, Col duCol du Soulor 1474 22 1 1982 1982 [33] Usually climbed while descending the col d'Aubisque from its west side.
Superbagnères, Superbagnères 1770 6 1 1986 1986 [34]
Tourmalet, Col duCol du Tourmalet 2115 88 26 1980 2016 [35] No. of times visited includes stage finishes at La Mongie.
Val Thorens, Val Thorens 2275 1 1 1994 1994 [36]
Ventoux, MontMont Ventoux 1909 16 7 1987 2016 [37]
la Pierre St Martin, Col deCol de la Pierre St Martin 1610 1 1 2015 2015 [38]
Finhaut-Emosson, Finhaut-Emosson 1960 1 1 2016 2016 [39]
Bisanne, Montee deMontee de Bisanne 1723 1 1 2016 2016 [40]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Analysis of categorized climbs at Danskebjerge.dk
  2. ^ All profiles are on Le Tour de France depuis 1947 (French)