10 Hardest Climbs In Professional Cycling

October 23, 2019

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite
parts of bike racing is watching the pros battle it out up really brutal climbs. So we thought we’d have a look at 10 of
the hardest climbs ridden in professional bike races. Zoncolan
If you ask most cyclists what the hardest climb in professional cycling is, I’d be
pretty confident that the majority would name Monte Zoncolan, and it’s pretty tough to
argue otherwise really. Stats wise it’s pretty outrageous, 10.5km
with an 11.5% average, which is hard enough as it is, but the final 8km average around
15%!! The tougher side of the Zoncolan from Ovara
has featured in the Giro d’Italia 5 times, and the Giro Rosa once, most recently won
by Chris Froome and Annemiek Van Vleuten. Angliru
In terms of European climbs of pro cycling this is probably the only climb that can challenge
the Zoncolan’s claim to be the most brutal climb in pro cycling. The Angliru averages 9.8% for 12.5km, with
a maximum gradient of a properly eye watering 23.5%. We all got the chance to ride the Angliru
last year, so I can tell you first hand that this climb is outrageously hard. I somehow don’t think we got anywhere close
to the KOM holder Roberto Heras’ time up there though, he completed the climb in just
41min 55 secs. Muro di Sormano
The Muro di Sormano featured in Il Lombardia between 1960 and 1962, but in 1962 it was
decided the climb was actually too hard to race bikes on! The climb was only restored to the race in
2012, once the road had been completely resurfaced. Interestingly the road is now painted with
quotes and times from riders the 1960s. What about the stats then? Well the Muro is only 1.7km long, but it averages
17.5% and maxes out at 25%! The KOM is currently held by Vincenzo Nibali
and Thibaut Pinot with a time of 8min16. Ventoux
The Giant of Provence has to be one of the most iconic climbs in cycling, but it isn’t
here because of the iconic moments that have happened on its slopes, it’s made out list
because it’s just really hard! The climb, from the more commonly ridden Bedoin
side, can really be split into three sections. The first 5.5km averages a pretty steady 4.4%,
just to warm you up. Then the next 9.5km will really break your
legs, averaging over 9%. The final 6km only averages a bit above 7%,
but at this point you’re exposed to the brutal heat and the savage winds that can
batter Mont Ventoux! Koppenberg
If it was a normal, tarmacked road the Koppenberg would be a pretty hard climb. It’s 600m long, averages 11.6% and maxes
out at 22%. But the Koppenberg isn’t a normal road. Instead the road surface is some of the toughest,
most slippery cobbles that are raced in the Tour of Flanders. Just making it to the top of the Koppenberg
is an achievement in itself, and every year in the Tour of Flanders a number of pros end
up walking up most of the climb! Alto de Letras
We’re stepping outside of Europe now with the Alto de Letras. This couldn’t be more different to the short
and steep Koppenberg, in terms of distance the Alto de Letras is just out in a league
of its own. The Letras is 80.7km long! Over that distance riders climb 3187m, giving
an average of 3.95%, and a maximum of 11%. The Alto de Letras has been raced in the Vuelta
a Colombia, and to be honest I just can’t imagine how hard that must be in a bike race! Mount Wuling
This isn’t a climb that many people will know by name, but you might have heard of
the race that climbs Mount Wuling, the Taiwan KOM Challenge. Without a doubt the Taiwan KOM Challenge is
one of the hardest days on a bike you can have, or at least that’s what Simon always
says. Over 105km, riders climb 3275m, making it
slightly less steep that the Alto de Letras, but this climb is really about the final 8km. That last 8km AVERAGES 17%, with a maximum
gradient of 27.3%. Mortirolo
We’re in the Alps now with the Passo Mortirolo, another of the most brutal climbs from the
Giro d’Italia. The Mortirolo averages 10.5% for 12.4km with
a maximum gradient of 18%. The Mortirolo has been climbed 10 times in
the Giro from the Mazzo di Valtellina side. This includes Contador’s incredible ride
on stage 16 of the 2015 Giro, where he punctured at the foot of the climb, chased solo and
ended dropping his closest rival, Fabio Aru, before the top. Plateau de Solaison
Another not very well known climb now, but one that really should be on more people’s
radar, the Plateau de Solaison. The Solaison has only been raced a couple
of times, most famously on the final stage of the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine, where Jakob
Fuglsang snatched the win from Richie Porte. The Solaison averages 9.2% for 11.3km, including
two kilometres at over 11% as the road climbs a cliff face up from the tiny village of Thuet. Alto de los Machucos
The Alto de los Machucos is steep even by the standards of the Vuelta a Espana. The average gradient of the Machucos is a
bit misleading, averaging 8.7% for 7.2km. But the final kilometre is downhill! At around 2.5km into the climb, the road rears
up to 28% and at this point the road is so steep that it isn’t even tarmacked. Instead, concrete slabs are used to give cars
better traction to make it to the top, that’s just bonkers!! There you go, 10 of the hardest climbs in
professional cycling, which climbs do you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments section down below

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