10 Hardest Climbs In Professional Cycling

10 Hardest Climbs In Professional Cycling


One of our favourite parts of bike racing is watching the pros battle it out up really brutal climbs. So in this video, we thought we’d have a look at 10 of the hardest climbs ridden in professional bike races. Are there any we’ve missed? 👇

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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.

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 the 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!

What other climbs do you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments. 👇

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Photos: © Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images & © Bettiniphoto /

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99 Comments on "10 Hardest Climbs In Professional Cycling"


  1. Monte Zoncolan sounds like the name of a game-show host–"And now, here's Monte with today's contestants!" 🙂

    Reply

  2. I climbed the Col de Joux Plane that was the most brutal climb I have climbed I think it was in the height of summer which made it even harder for me

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  3. What is the longest 20% climb?…..I've got a 1 km climb like that by me that I would train on using a 23, just to stress the legs. (only one repeat)

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  4. Great Video but I HATE seeing Chris Horner….. He is a Dick and a Doper. Vincenzo Nibali Won that Vuelta in my mind!!!

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  5. Punta veleno (featured in the 2012 Tour of the Alps/Giro del Trentino, Pozzovivo won the stage)

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  6. my favourite is a series of hills in the quantocks Somerset, on a 40km ride you can get 1100m of climb including the crowcombe hill topping out at 29% max love to get around in under 2 hours although ~I am sure Emma would bang it out in about 35mins !

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  7. Pico de Veleta from Grenada in continental Spain: sub 700m to 3384m (mountain is 3395m). Dont think the pro’s has ever gone above 3000m though. Its not steep but its dammlong and the air gets thinner and thinner for the last 20km. Theoretically its tarmaced until 3350 but one could argue that the condition of the tarmac past 3200m is non-existent.

    I Belive Tireno-Adriatico has visited short steep climbs maxing out near 30% in the hilly terrain east of the Apenines. Cant remember the names but i do remember riders either walking or and top climbers resorting to zig zag to ease the gradient.

    Among the ‘big’ climbs i sure do miss Blockhaus, Stelvio and GrossGlocker Hochstraße – plenty of altitude, long and very long streches with 10%.

    Unfortunately Pro's only vist the Canary island for training: on La Palma : Roque de los Muchachos 0-2410m in one continues climb exposed to the north atlantic. And more well known Teide where you can climb from sea to 2300m and stay above 2000m for +10km inside the caldera.

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  8. 👍🏼 nice ranking… 3 thing's about letras, there's 2 sides of letras side 1 Is the longest and famous the side 2 the short one is the infamous hell.
    Pro cyclists make letras in 3 to 4 hours and the KOM record is 3 hrs 05 min… for the 80 km distance but there's a 86 km segment.
    The hardest part that make letras the hardest above them all is the altitude reaching 4000 mosl and starting at 1900… there's a redefinition of training and conditioning for altitude. But you must get you own impressions GCN come and take on letras.

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  9. Mont Due Chat is pretty savage and how about Colle Delle Finestre it killed most the peloton in the Giro

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  10. We have the línea climb (22km), picacho climb (50km) among others in Colombia. You missed alpe d' huez, Galiber, Gavia.

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  11. There is an epic climb in Norway 1500m in 21km. Starting at sea level in Geiranger
    http://www.frafjordtilfjell.com/hoved.php?val=1&sprak=eng

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  12. You won’t see the peloton go up Mt Washington in NH, USA. However, some pros have climbed it. That beast is insane and can hang with the best!

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  13. Pikes Peak in Colorado, USA. The hardest part start above in at above 10,000 ft. (3,047 m.). It tops out at 14,101 ft. (4,298 m.) and the max gradient is 15.7%. It's used as the USA's National Hill Climb Championships.

    Reply

  14. Sveti jure in croatia starting from podgora. 23km from a little bit above 0m up to 1700m above sea level

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  15. Top 5 rarest thing on GCN today
    1. John Beaven
    2 .Tom Last
    3. Rear hub sound check
    4. Presenters riding with pro's
    5. Dan talking about his pro career (I almoust forgot what was name of his team).

    Reply

  16. I’m confused. How is the Alto de los Machucos a 7.2km climb if the last kilometre is downhill? I get that there can be short descents in the middle of a climb but if the descent is at the end, the isn’t it actually a 6.2km climb?

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  17. Mirador del Ézaro, in Galicia. It was a final of Vuelta a España. it is 1,82 km only. But has an avg 14,5% and max 30%!!

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  18. "hello, I would like to work for GCN." "What are your qualifications ?" "I have won the Taiwan KOM." "You're hired."

    Reply

  19. Signal Hill, and the Brow, in St John's Newfoundland and pretty much any road in town. I was born on a hill. Nothin' but hills back home.

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  20. Highest paved road in Nth America…I've ridden it and survived (@96kg). Wikipedia page: The Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb or Mount Evans Hill Climb is a bicycle race situated on Mount Evans near Idaho Springs, Colorado. Begun in 1962, the race has been held forty-one times except for three cancellations. In 1981 it was renamed in honor of five-time race winner Bob Cook, who died of cancer at the age of 23. The race is 27.4 miles (44.1 kilometers) in length.

    Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill ClimbDateJulyRegionMount Evans, Colorado, USAEnglish nameBob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill ClimbNickname(s)Mt. Evans HillclimbDisciplineRoad raceTypeOne-day raceFirst edition1962Editions49First winnerStuart Baillie and Adolph Weller (tie)Most wins Scott Moninger (USA)(6 times)

    The race takes place on the highest paved road in the United States, starting at an altitude of 7,540 feet (2,298 meters) and terminating at 14,130 feet (4,306 meters), 130 feet (39 meters) below Mount Evans' summit.[1] Due to the altitude, the event is sometimes marked by inclement weather.

    Over the years, the race has attracted significant professional riders. Riders come from all over the United States and in the past the race has had riders from France, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia compete. The age range of the participants is from nine to eighty-five years. The race is also supported by volunteers from the Colorado cycling community who help marshal, drive support, officiate and work the picnic. The event includes categories for all levels of racing and encourages riders of all abilities. Between six hundred and a thousand riders compete each year in a number of categories.

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  21. Casa de maquinas in México. hardest part is 16.36 km, at 10% MAX of 21%, from 940 m to 2450m. Although the climb is 21.6 km at 7 % in total.

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  22. Lagos de Covadonga in Asturias is another good candidate. 12 km that averages 8%, but that is including 2 minor downhill sections, so the gradient is closer to 9-10% of the rest of the climb.

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  23. San Pellegrino in Alpe north of Lucca. 13km with an average gradient of 9%(including a downhill section) makes it the hardest climb in Tuscany. Especially the last 2.5 km are brutal, with an average gradient at around 15%. For some reason it's rarely used in the Giro – maybe it's too hard 😉

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  24. Stage 17 of the 2018 Vuelta finishing at Balcó de Bizkaia up the steep slope in dense fog was pretty epic. All the riders seemed to be riding in slow motion.

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  25. Luckily you can apply simple math to determine the difficulty of a climb: https://www.climbbybike.com/most_difficult_climbs.asp
    Maybe people can stop screaming "Alpe d'Heuz" because it's really not that hard. It's like saying that Michael Bublé is an iconic jazz musician.

    Reply

  26. I can't believe you missed Passo dello Stelvio, not only very difficult from the Parto side, but the most iconic climb in Europe.

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  27. What about the Valley of the Tears in Gran Canaria. Absolutely brutal. I think Si went down it in one of last years videos. Maybe go up it this year….

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  28. Move over Koppenberg, get the pros on Trooper Lane in Halifax. Cobbled with a max of 33%. That'll sort the peleton out!

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  29. I loved the Chris Opie video, especially the van tour. Perhaps we have a new channel coming; GCV: Global Cycling Vans.

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  30. There's a few left on the list. El alto de bizkaia, la bola del mundo and cuitu negru in spain. In Costa Rica there one huge monster call "El Cerro de la Muerte" Goes up to 3360 up to sea level.

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  31. Not a Pro climb, but nasty anyway: Christian Winthersvej (in Vejle, Denmark) – Length: 730 m – Avg. incline: 10,6 – Max incline: 25,5%. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?msa=0&ll=55.71770773230886%2C9.529040948410056&spn=0.006007%2C0.019956&mid=1BC4pkVNtoAlkU_LhP3rQsKka-8M&z=16

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  32. can you remake this video with cool visual maps? all the stats are great but seeing it on a map will really let the difficulty sink in.

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  33. Hey just wanna let you guys know that He bicycle club has beaten the Guinness world record for the longest line of cyclists!

    Reply

  34. Every climb is hard in my neighborhood. Actually every climb I've ever ridden was hard. What's even the point?? Climbs are yucky.

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  35. Where's the Colle delle Finestre, it's 18 km to around 10%, with the last half gravel. It's the climb where Froome started his 80 km solo in the 2018 giro

    Reply

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