Col de la République

Col de la République
Col de Grand Bois

Col de la République
Elevation 1,161 m (3,809 ft)
Traversed by D1082
Location Loire, Rhône-Alpes, France
Coordinates 45°19′58″N 4°28′49″E / 45.33278°N 4.48028°E / 45.33278; 4.48028Coordinates: 45°19′58″N 4°28′49″E / 45.33278°N 4.48028°E / 45.33278; 4.48028
Col de la République

Location of col de la République

The Col de la République or Col de Grand Bois (1,161 m (3,809 ft)) is a mountain pass in the Pilat massif within the Pilat Regional Natural Park in the Loire department of the Rhône-Alpes region in southern France. Located on the D1082 (ex-RN 82 ) in the commune of Saint-Genest-Malifaux, it connects Saint-Étienne with Annonay in the Rhône valley. The road was constructed in 1830 and the col has an altitude of 1,161 metres.

It was the first climb on the first Tour de France in 1903, but was the scene of notorious violence in 1904 that involved fighting and officials firing gunshot warnings. It has been part of the route on 13 occasions.


The hamlet of 'République', Loire - circa 1910-1920

The name 'La République' and that of the nearby hamlet of 'La République' derive from the attempt by members of the Beguine religious sect to found an independent community there called the Republic of Jesus Christ.[1] The Beguines were well established in Saint-Jean-Bonnefonds, but in November 1794 they moved 20 kilometres to the plateau to be ready for the arrival of the prophet Elijah.[2]


Details of the climb

From Saint-Étienne (north), the climb is 17 km long. Over this distance, it gains 644 m at an average of 3.8%. The maximum gradient is 6.3%.[3]

From the south, the climb starts at Bourg-Argental; from here, the ascent is 12 km long, climbing 626 m at an average of 5.2%, with a maximum of 7.9%.[4]


Monument to Paul de Vivie Vélocio at the summit of the col

At the top is a monument in memory of Paul de Vivie, who wrote under the pseudonym Vélocio and was important in the development of bicycle touring. The col de la République was his favourite morning ride.[5][6] Every year since 1922 the volunteers of the 'Comité Vélocio de Saint-Étienne' have organized the Journée Vélocio (Vélocio Day-Trip), a 12.788 km climb of the col.[2][5][6][7]

Tour de France

The col de la République was the first pass of over 1,000 metres crossed by the Tour de France, in 1903 during the second stage of the first Tour de France (Lyons - Marseilles via Saint-Étienne) when Hippolyte Aucouturier was the first rider to reach the summit.[8]

The following year, in the 1904 Tour de France, it was the scene of some of the most notorious violence in the history of the tour when supporters of the regional favourite Antoine Fauré attacked his opponents.[9][10] This caused the organizers to avoid the Loire department until the 1950 Tour de France. In 1905, the tour's organiser Henri Desgrange chose to ignore the col de la République, and focused instead on the introduction of the Ballon d'Alsace, because he saw that he had missed the opportunity of publicity previously.[11]

In the 1904 incident, Andre Fauré led the race and 200 fans tried to stop the rest of the cyclists from following him. Garin hurt his hand during the incident, and Giovanni Gerbi had to give up with broken fingers.[12] The situation was only solved after race officials fired shots in the air.[13] Further on, nails and broken glass had been spread along the road, which caused many flat tires.[14] Because of this help, Fauré was the first on top of the col, but was over-taken by the favourites later.[15]

At the summit a sign post says

Col de la République
1er col à plus de 1000 mètres franchi par le tour de France cycliste le 5 juillet 1903
(The 1st col higher than 1,000 metres traversed by the cycling Tour de France on 5 July 1903)


The col has been used 13 times in the Tour de France, and the first rider to cross the summit on each occasion was:[16][17]

Year Stage Category Start Finish Leader at the summit
1997 13 3 Saint-Étienne L'Alpe d'Huez  Richard Virenque (FRA)
1978 10 3 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Jean-Jacques Fussien (FRA)
1971 10 3 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Cyrille Guimard (FRA)
1968 18 3 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Aurelio González (ESP)
1966 19 2 Chamonix Saint-Étienne  Ferdinand Bracke (BEL)
1963 16 3 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Federico Bahamontes (ESP)
1961 9 2 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Guy Ignolin (FRA)
1959 17 2 Saint-Étienne Grenoble  Federico Bahamontes (ESP)
1956 19 2 Grenoble Saint-Étienne  Stan Ockers (BEL)
1954 17 2 Le Puy-en-Velay Lyon  Robert Varnajo (FRA)
1950 19 3 Briançon Saint-Étienne  Raphaël Géminiani (FRA)
1904 2 Lyon Marseille  Antoine Fauré (FRA)
1903 2 Lyon Marseille  Hippolyte Aucouturier (FRA)

See also


  1. Pascal Chambon, La Loire et l'Aigle: Les Foréziens face à l'État napoléonien, Saint-Étienne: Université de Saint-Étienne, 2005, ISBN 978-2-86272-351-8, p. 161 (French)
  2. 1 2 Berlier, Patrick. "Une flânerie du Grand Bois au Creux du Loup" (in French). Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  3. "Col du Grand Bois: Saint Etienne". Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  4. "Col du Grand Bois: Bourg-Argental". Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  5. 1 2 Peter Nye, The Cyclist's Sourcebook, New York: Perigee, 1991, ISBN 978-0-399-51705-1, p. 100.
  6. 1 2 John Krausz, Vera van der Reis Krausz, and Paul Harris, The Bicycling Book: Transportation, Recreation, Sport, New York: Dial, 1982, ISBN 978-0-385-27666-5, p. 68.
  7. Joe Friel, Cycling Past 50, Ageless athlete series, Champaigne, Illinois: Human Kinetics, 1998, OCLC 761543146,pp. 23536.
  8. Woodland, Les (2003). The Yellow Jersey Companion to the Tour de France. Yellow Jersey Press. p. 264. ISBN 0-224-06318-9.
  9. Woodland, Les (2007), The Yellow Jersey Guide to the Tour de France, Yellow Jersey, UK, p.99
  10. "Tour 1904 : mort de son succès". Vélo 101, le site officiel du vélo (in French). 30 October 2001. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  11. Van den Bogaart, Ronnie (10 November 2007). "Col de la République was eerste berg in Tour de France" (in Dutch). Sportgeschiedenis. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  12. McGann, Bill; McGann, Carol (2006). The Story of the Tour de France. Dog Ear Publishing. pp. 10–13. ISBN 1-59858-180-5. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  13. "No centenary party for 1904 Tour of shame". Reuters. 8 July 2004. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
  14. "Vélocipédie - Le Tour de France". Le Petit journal (in French). Gallica Bibliothèque Numérique. 11 July 1904. p. 5. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  15. "2ème Tour de France 1904 - 2ème étape" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  16. Mémoire du Cyclisme - Col de la République Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. "Le col du Grand Bois ou de la République dans le Tour de France depuis 1947" (in French). ledicodutour. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
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