Road Bike Racing’s 6 Toughest Climbs

Climbs in Road Bike









Alto del Angliru
Orga­niz­ers of the Vuelta a España want­ed a moun­tain to rival the tough­est climbs in the Tour de France and the Giro d’I­talia. They found one in the Alto del Angliru. Unques­tioned as the hard­est climb in Spain and first includ­ed in 1999, the climb starts at just over 1,000 feet above sea lev­el and ris­es to a pin­na­cle of 5,161 feet. It’s 7.8 miles long with an aver­age grade of 10 per­cent, with the first three miles just a gen­tle 7.5 per­cent. A mid-climb reprieve starts right before mile four. The sec­ond half is the real quad burn­er, where the climb aver­ages a 13 per­cent grade and fea­tures the Cueña les Cabres, a near 24 per­cent grade less than two miles from the summit.

Monte Zon­colan
When a peak is also home to a ski resort, you know you’re in for a seri­ous climb. The Ovario route (there are two oth­er approach­es) has become the favored path of the Giro d’I­talia orga­niz­ers and is just over six miles long. It aver­ages a 12 per­cent grade through­out its 4,000 feet of climb­ing. The real task is from the vil­lage of Liari­is, about a mile into the climb, where the road climbs 3,000 feet in under four miles. That does­n’t even include the bru­tal switch­backs lead­ing to the summit.












Alpe D’Huez
The Alpe D’Huez fea­tures eight and a half miles of bru­tal leg destroy­ing climb­ing on an aver­age grade of eight per­cent. Called the climb of “moder­ni­ty,” it owes much of its fame to the inau­gur­al 1952 ascent in which motor­cy­cle tele­vi­sion crews filmed the Tour for the first time.

Col du Tourmalet
This climb has gained noto­ri­ety through the Tour de France but has also been used in the Vuelta a España. It can be approached from both the east and west and is the longest of their ascents at near­ly 12 miles from the west and over 11 from the east. Regard­less of direc­tion, the aver­age grade is near­ly 7.5 per­cent, peak­ing at ten per­cent. Eugène Christophe broke his fork on the climb in the 1913 Tour and repaired it him­self at a forge in near­by Sainte-Marie-de-Campan.

Pas­so di Mortirolo
This near-eight-mile climb has an aver­age grade of over 10 per­cent, along with 4,265 feet of ele­va­tion gain. When used in the Giro d’I­talia, the first rid­er to pass the sum­mit is giv­en an award hon­or­ing Mar­co Pan­tani, who died in 2004. (A mon­u­ment to Pan­tani was erect­ed in 2006 by the Ital­ian Pro­fes­sion­al Rid­ers Asso­ci­a­tion on the climb.)

Plateau De Beille
This is the sec­ond longest climb on the list at near­ly 10 miles at an aver­age grade of eight per­cent over 4,000 feet of ascent. This Tour de France stage is arguably more dif­fi­cult than the Alp d’Huez, and four of its five win­ners have gone on to win the whole race.