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Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 50 - 41

In-depth
27 Apr 2020
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Imagine a climb so tough, so brutal, that it has to be removed from a bike race for professionals. Well, it's not too hard to imagine because that is exactly what happened with the Muro di Sormano.

In 1962, after being used for the previous three years of racing, the organiser of Il Lombardia had to remove the Sormano from the course because its average 17.5% gradient for 1.8km was simply too steep. 

It didn't return until 2012, a full fifty years later, but has been a deciding factor in the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' ever since. It's also proof that a climb can be a classic regardless of how big or how beautiful it is.

The Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs

Introducing the Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 100 - 91  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 90 - 81  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 80 - 71  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 70 - 61  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 60 - 51  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 50 - 41  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 40 - 31  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 30 - 21  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 20 - 11  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 10 - 4  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: Number 3  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: Number 2  
Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: Number 1  

50 - Col du Glandon, Rhone-Alps, France (24.1km, 4.8%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography George Marshall

With the climbs of Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Galibier, Col du Madeleine and the Croix de Fer all within touching distance, the Col du Glandon is often a forgotten giant of this cyclist mecca.

Even the Tour de France has a tendency to do it down, relegating it to a category 1 climb, and often tasking it with merely softening up the peloton before Alpe d’Huez steps in to administer the coup de grâce.

A shame, that, because from either side the climb of the Glandon offers almost a full day’s worth of riding that combines a whole lot of effort with a whole lot of spectacular scenery.

See the ultimate Col du Glandon route on Komoot

49 - Serra do Rio de Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil (13.6km, 7.3%)

Words James Spender Photography Mike Massaro

As climbs go this won’t win any awards for its stats nor its notoriety, being relatively speaking in the middle of nowhere. But boy is it beautiful.

Beginning in earnest in the town of Lauro Muller, the Rastro winds gently through pastures until a few kilometres past the town of Novo Horizonte, where it suddenly steepens, the hairpins come thicker and faster and before long you’re fighting vertigo as you look over your shoulder and down to the valley floor below.

The reward of the views from the top – and the pão de queijo cheese bread and coffee being served up in the cafe – are worth the effort.

See the ultimate Serra do Rio de Rastro route on Komoot 

48 - Muro di Surmano, Lombardy, Italy (1.8km, 17.5%)

Words Martin James Photography Paul Calver

Suffering is a recurring theme throughout the history of professional cycling. So it says it all that the Muro di Sormano was axed from the Il Lombardia route in 1962 after three editions… for being too hard even for the pros.

It returned to the race, resurfaced and restored, in 2012 and has been a deciding factor in the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ ever since.

But you don’t need to take on the full 240-odd kilometres of Il Lombardia to get a taste of its severity. Its average gradient of 17.5% and ramps at up to 25% mean the 1.8km Muro di Sormano is a mighty test even on its own.

See the ultimate Muro di Sormano route on Komoot

47 - Lacets de Montvernier, Savoie, France (3.4km, 8.5%)

Words Martin James Photography George Marshall

An impressive feat of engineering whose name translates as ‘the laces of Montvernier’, this remarkable climb packs in 18 switchbacks in just 3.4km as it snakes back and forth from the Maurienne Valley to the town of Montvernier nearly 300m above.

The Lacets first appeared in the Tour in 2015, and the TV-friendly exercise in synchronised souplesse made it an instant highlight reel favourite alongside the more established Alpine cols in the region.

Indeed there are plenty of harder climbs around, but whether you’re climbing it or descending it, few are likely to leave you with as big a smile on your face afterwards.

See the ultimate Lacets de Mountvernier route on Komoot 

46 - Mount Lemmon, Arizona, USA (52km, 3.6%)

Words James Spender Photography Patrik Lundin

Mount Lemmon is a trove of flora and fauna – in fact it’s said that every 300m vertically up is equivalent to travelling 300 miles north from Arizona to Canada, such is the variation of wildlife.

And ascending this giant really does feel like travelling through a multiple lands.

The base is all saguaro cactus and arid soils; over 1,300m is semi-desert scrubland; at 1,800m things take a turn for the classic forest; and above 2,500m an alpine feel-cum-moonscape dominates, as conifers give way to exposed granite.

Make sure to end your climb at the Cookie Cabin in Summerhaven. After 52km of climbing you’ll need the calories.

See the ultimate Mount Lemmon route on Komoot 

45 - Sveti Jure, Biokovo, Croatia (21km, 6.3%)

Words Sam Challis Photography Ben Read

The mountains that host the Sveti Jure climb may be part of the Alps, but the ascent is worlds away from its stereotypical Alpine cousins.

Where they neatly and steadily slither up a mountain, Sveti Jure darts and dives, ducks and weaves along and around an entire ridgeline of mountains.

One moment you’ll be climbing through forests up a 15% ramp, the next you’ll be descending round a bend before steadily circling up the exposed side of the next swell.

The tightly coiled hairpins of the final 1km are a wicked way to end the climb but the views of the from the top out over the Adriatic Sea and Dalmatian coast are undoubtedly a just reward.

See the ultimate Sveti Jure route on Komoot 

44 - Cirque de Troumouse, Pyrenees, France (28km, 5%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography Juan Trujillo Andrades

A climb that’s as enjoyable to ride as it is to say, the Cirque de Troumouse can rightfully claim to be a ‘hidden gem’ of France.

The fact that the Tour de France has never visited accounts for the ‘hidden’ title, as the col-ticking hordes tend to be drawn to the nearby Col du Tourmalet, and its gentle gradient through untouched wilderness takes care of the ‘gem’ part.

The end point in the middle of the ‘cirque’ – circle of mountains – also make for a suitably impressive finale to a great climb.

See the ultimate Cirque de Troumouse route on Komoot

43 - Col de Peyresourde, Pyrenees, France (15.3km, 6.1%)

Words Martin James Photography Paul Calver

The Col de Peyresourde is in many ways a victim of its own success. Yes, it has appeared in the Tour nearly 50 times, but thanks to the geography of Pyrenean roads it has nearly always featured before or after the Col d’Aspin or Col du Tourmalet, making it hard to judge on its own merits. 

Taken from Bagnères-de-Luchon to the east, the Peyresourde rises nearly 1,000m in altitude at a steady gradient that often gets close to but seldom hits double figures. 

Somewhat unusually for the Pyrenees, the road is wide and spacious, offering expansive views across rolling pastures to the snow-capped peaks beyond.

See the ultimate Col de Peyresourde route on Komoot 

42 - Passo Vrsic, Julian Alps, Slovenia (9.2km, 8.2%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography Juan Trujillo Andrades

Slovenia may not top the list of Alpine getaway destinations for cyclists – Italy and France have that sewn up – but with its peaceful roads, welcoming people and picturesque Emerald River, you should put it on your radar.

And the jewel in its crown is the Passo Vrisic. It’s the nation’s biggest and best climb, and includes cobbled sections, sinuous switchbacks and offers breathtaking views of Austria and Italy from its summit.

See the ultimate Passo Vrsic route on Komoot

41 - Taroko Gorge, Hualien County, Taiwan (80.5km, 3.9%)

Words James Spender Photography Mike Massaro

Another challenger for ‘World’s Longest Climb’, this road up through the Taroko National Park is probably better known as the scene for the Taiwan KOM Challenge, a 105km sportive that starts near Pacific Ocean-level before making a 3,165m altitude dash for the top.

Pacing is the hard part, because while the average gradient is less than 4%, the last 10km see nearly 1,000m of ascent, with the road spiking to 27% for long sections.

Just getting to the top is an achievement, but if you need a target time, Vincenzo Nibali won the 2017 Taiwan KOM in a time of 3h 19mins.

See the ultimate Taroko Gorge route on Komoot

Ride the Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs with Komoot

Cyclist has teamed up with its good friends at Komoot to give you the ultimate route for each and every climb in the list.

If you are new to Komoot, it is offering a free regional bundle (worth £8.99). Simply follow this link to Komoot.com and create your free account today.

Alternatively, head to Komoot and enter the voucher code CYCLIST100. Valid until 31.07.2020.