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Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 60 - 51

24 Apr 2020

If we'd drafted in 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck to compile our 100 Classic Climbs list, something tells us that number 57 would not have made the cut.

The Port de Bales in the French Pyrenees is a beautiful ascent, an amateur's dream some may argue, but for Schleck it is a climb he would probably prefer to forget.

That's because in 2010 when the Tour made its visit, it was the scene of a rather controversial moment in the race's recent history and the biggest contributing factor as to why he didn't ride into Paris days later wearing the iconic Maillot Jaune.

Thankfully, it was the team here at Cyclist that put together this list so there is space for the Port de Bales as well as nine other fantastic ascents that take us to the halfway point in the Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs countdown.

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  

60 - Transalpina, Carpathian Mountains, Romania (23.9km, 6.5%)

Words Martin James Photography Alex Duffill

The Transalpina is also known as The King’s Road or The Road Between Clouds, yet despite the grandeur of its titles Romania’s highest pass is all but unknown by Europe’s col-bagging cycling elite.

Part of the reason is that this route linking Transylvania and Oltenia was only paved in 2012, which also means the surface is gloriously pristine.

The second of this route’s nicknames comes from the fact that there are twin summits linked by 6km of sumptuous riding, where you’re more likely to come across animals than vehicles.

Our quoted stats above are for the southern ascent from Novaci, but the Transalpina makes for a gloriously rewarding day on the bike no matter how you tackle it.

See the ultimate Transalpina route on Komoot

59 - Cormet de Roseland, Savoie, France (20.4km, 6%)

Words Jack Elton-Walters Photography George Marshall

This is a beautifully picturesque climb that is often overlooked due to the more famous ascents in the vicinity.

At the Tour de France it is usually seen as a warm-up for the mighty Col de l’Iseran. It should have been part of the deciding stage of the 2019 Tour, but a freak storm and landslide saw the stage abandoned at the last minute.

At no point is the ascent too hard, thanks to gradients that rarely creep over 8%, but at over 20km long it’s a climb that needs to be paced wisely.

See the ultimate Cormet de Roseland route on Komoot

58 - Blockhaus, Appenines, Italy (28km, 7.3%)

Words Martin James Photography Pete Goding

Let’s face it, you could hardly come up with a less romantic name for a climb if you tried, yet Blockhaus has somehow carved its name into Giro d’Italia folklore all the same.

Drawing parallels with Mont Ventoux for its barren landscape, Blockhaus has also laid bare the ambitions of some of cycling’s greatest luminaries down the years, with the likes of Laurent Fignon and even the great Eddy Merckx having floundered on its slopes.

The only good news is that the tarmac ends at the summit, so when you get to the top there’s nowhere to go but the full 2,000m back down again.

See the ultimate Blockhaus route on Komoot 

57 - Port de Balès, Pyrenees, France (19.1km, 6.5%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography Alex Duffill

Dressed in yellow, Andy Schleck feels his rear wheel bump, then he sees his chain jam. He stops to assess the problem. Alberto Contador, second overall, stands up and steps on the pedals, leaving the Luxembourger fuming by the roadside.

The Spaniard wins the stage by 39 seconds, the same winning margin he takes into Paris six days later.

Ironically, it’s Schleck that is down in the history books as the winner of the 2010 Tour de France – with Contador later being stripped of the title after a failed drugs test.

But it’s what happened on the slopes of the Port de Bales that we will all remember.

See the ultimate Port de Bales route on Komoot

56 - Col de Turini, Alpes-Maritimes, France (15.3km, 7.2%)

Words Martin James Photography Patrik Lundin

An annual fixture in the Monte Carlo Rally, the Col de Turini should really be far better known among cyclists than it is.

After all, it’s perfectly situated in the Maritime Alps, not far from Nice – a region teeming with roads and climbs regularly used by the pros – and features a spectacular series of switchbacks that twist and turn acrobatically as the road rises.

No wonder it’s such a rallying favourite, and yet the Tour has only visited three times, most recently in 1973.

Don’t let that stop you making your own pilgrimage here, though. And when you do, make sure to take in the additional loop at the summit.

See the ultimate Col de Turini route on Komoot 

55 - Timmelsjoch, Tyrol, Austria (23.8km, 4.7%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography Richie Hopson

With Austria on one side and Italy on the other, the Timmelsjoch straddles the border and rises to 2,474m above sea level, offering a wilder and more breathtaking view of the Ötzal valley than the lower Brenner Pass to the east.

If you are after a mighty challenge, tackle the Timmelsjoch from its Italian side as part of the Ötzal Cycle Marathon, a 238km sportive that takes in an eye-watering 5,500 metres of vertical elevation.

See the ultimate Timmelsjoch route on Komoot 

54 - Lac de Cap-de-Long, Pyrenees, France (22.7km, 6%)

Words Pete Muir Photography Juan Trujillo Andrades

Thank goodness for dams. Not only do they keep us supplied with fresh water, they require long roads up steep hillsides that are rarely troubled by traffic – perfect for cyclists.

Lac de Cap-de-Long is a particularly fine example: challenging and beautiful in equal measure, with some of the most perfect hairpins you’ll find outside of a Nicky Clarke salon.

The stats are all there. It only needs a visit from the Tour de France to elevate it to legendary status.

See the ultimate Lac de Cap-de-Long route on Komoot 

53 - Hautacam, Pyrenees, France (16.3km, 7.8%)

Words Martin James Photography George Marshall

Luc Leblanc in 1994; Bjarne Riis in 1996; Lance Armstrong in 2000… much of the best known Tour exploits on Hautacam are unavoidably linked to pro cycling’s EPO excesses.

Yet maybe there’s a reason for that. As a climb to a ski resort, Hautacam is always used as a summit finish in the Tour, invariably after a couple of other big climbs to soften the legs.

It’s hard enough even with fresh legs – or illicit substances in the bloodstream. The gradient chops and changes throughout, with a long stretch above 10% and a summit that towers more than a kilometre over the valley below.

See the ultimate Hautacam route on Komoot 

52 - Gran Sasso, Apennines, Italy (31.1km, 4.1%)

Words Pete Muir Photography Pete Goding

Think of Italian climbs and the limestone spires of the Dolomites spring to mind – short, steep and spectacular. The Gran Sasso is a different kind of Italian climb altogether.

Slap bang in the centre of the country, the Apennines are wild and empty, and the climb wanders endlessly through woodland and across barren plains, slowly sapping your energy over 30km before delivering a knockout blow in the final push to the observatory at the summit.

It’s a long way from anywhere, but every bit worth the effort to get there.

See the ultimate Gran Sasso route on Komoot 

51 - Rosedale Chimney Bank, North York Moors, England (1.4km, 13%)

Words Martin James Photography Juan Trujillo Andrades

For all the fearsome reputations of some of the more illustrious entries on this list, few pack as much brutality into a mere 1.4km as Yorkshire’s Rosedale Chimney Bank.

Regarded by some as the hardest climb in the UK, Chimney Bank rises from the village of Rosedale Abbey with little or no ceremony, a pair of switchbacks halfway up the only deviation from a direct assault on the hillside that hits a murderous 33% near the top.

You’ll quite possibly never work harder to gain 175m in altitude on a bike.

See the ultimate Rosedale Chimney Bank 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 and create your free account today.

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