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Europe's toughest mountain climb?
Last Post 11/05/2009 04:47 AM by myles mccorry. 6 Replies.
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10/18/2009 03:29 PM
Here, again, are a few possibilities


It's pretty much unquestioned as the hardest climb in Spain, such that some have thought it's too hard even for seasoned professionals. When the weather turns sour, as it did in the 2002 Vuelta, the climb becomes almost literally undoable.


Zoncolan will no doubt claim a few souls in the 2010 Giro. It's a name that strikes fear (or, for some, excitement) in the hearts of those who are meant to tackle it.


Be honest - this is the first climb you thought of when you saw the subject line, isn't it? It's a name that's rightly legendary in Tour de France lore, and if you win here, your name automatically goes down in the history books.


This evil climb doesn't quite have the reputation that Alpe d'Huez does, but it probably should. It's been visited nearly as often, and is every bit as much leg-burning torture.


Petrano was probably over-glamorized just a bit this past Giro, coming as the capper after two other demonic first-category climbs, but a fitting capper it was, with height and gradients to match almost any climb any stage race can offer.


You'll be hard pressed to find a higher climb that cyclists will tackle anywhere in the world. The marquee climb of the last Vuelta saw time gaps of nearly 40 minutes and a close to a dozen riders not even try to complete the stage.


The Tourmalet might not strike fear in seasoned climbers as much as some of these other climbs, but it's still a doozy. One of the highest climbs in France, frequently the highest point reached in the Tour de France or the Dauphine Libere, it will be visited twice in 2010, leaving those who live to battle gravity licking their lips.


Not a climb of epic height, but its steepness has proven selective when it's been used in the past. This climb almost cost Danilo Di Luca the 2007 Giro.


What flagrant false advertising, to call this climb a "plateau!" This is the climb where the current practically-undisputed world's best cyclist first showed his true prowess, defeating an artificially enhanced Michael Rasmussen to the finish.

So, just some of several possibilities. What do you think?



10/18/2009 05:11 PM
Good choices - I think Mont Ventoux should also be on that list for comment. I've been to all three countries, but only Spain (Mallorca) and Italy with my bike. I rode up Monte Serra when I was in Italy (near Lucca) - it hurt, but my legs were already cooked by the time we got there, so that didn't do me any favors.


10/18/2009 07:44 PM
Yeah, there's several others (Mont Ventoux, Plan de Corones, Alto de Velefique, the St. Bernard Passes, just to name a few). These were the ones on my mind as I was typing.


10/27/2009 02:51 PM
...Puy-de-Dome, Rettenbachferner, Grossglockner, Gavia, Stelvio...


10/28/2009 04:38 PM
So, who has actually climbed any of these and can compare?


10/29/2009 07:13 PM
Haven't done that many from the list. I loved the Tourmalet (maybe I cursed at the time...) I incorporated three stages of the 1994 Tour in a bike Tour through the Pyrenees. The Tourmalet was loooooong. But it was a day before the pros and L'etape du Tour time ( a century for the wannabe's to ride the same stage as the pros). So there were tons of other riders and lots of spectators (who had already pitched tents and placed caravans and had nothing else to do). Sort of cool to get pushes and water...
Two days before that I had been up Hautacam, which wasn't as hard. On the same trip I did the Aspin and Aubisque, as well as Cauterets.

I was at the Vuelta last year and we were bussed up the Angliru, but the bus was stopped three km from the top, so I walked it. Darn steep. Even cars had trouble.

I have climbed the Stelvio many times (only because that's the name of my Pinarello frame, though....)

The one I'd really like to do next is the Ventoux. Alpe d'Huez doesn't rank very high on my to do list, probably because there is a climb very similar to it (gradient, length, geography etc) next to my parents, and I do it every time I visit.

Oh, does the Koppenberg count? I know, it's ridiculously short, but also ridiculously slippery....


11/05/2009 04:47 AM
agree with BH the Angliru is the second hardest clim i have ever ridden

the 25 km from Gap to the top of the Galibier did it for me. 38 by 23 with the tent and pannier . the 23 on the triple got bent the day before.
the last 8 k out on the open mountain nearly killed me!
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