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Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs: 20 - 11

In-depth
30 Apr 2020
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These 10 climbs have come so far yet have cruelly missed out on a spot in the top 10 Cyclist 100 Classic Climbs. I'll let you into a little secret, each and every one of the picks below was among the shortlist for the top 10 and was picked for a higher position by at least one of the Cyclist editorial staff.

However, when push came to shove, they all had that little something missing that prevented them from making the top 10.

A shame, really, because these climbs are absolutely stunning in their own individual ways.

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  

20 - Colle del Nivolet, Piedmont, Italy (40.5km, 4.7%)

Words Pete Muir Photography Patrik Lundin

If this were a list of the Top 100 Most Beautiful Climbs, the Colle del Nivolet would be right up there at the top. It’s very long (over 40km) and pretty tough (gradients go over 15%) but it sticks in the memory mainly for its views over azure reservoirs framed by snow-capped peaks.

Its lack of Grand Tour history is what pushes it down the list, having only appeared in the Giro on one occasion, in 2019, and even then they didn’t go all the way to the top.

It has, however, appeared in The Italian Job. Remember the bus hanging over the cliff at the end…?

See the ultimate Colle del Nivolet route on Komoot 

19 - Muur van Geraardsbergen, Flanders, Belgium (0.89km, 8%)

Words Jack Elton-Walters Photography Alex Duffill

Through the town and up the climb. Sounds simple, but add in cobbled gradients hitting double figures and you’ll wish your bike had a hidden motor to help you to the top.

Formerly the launch point for winning moves at the Tour of Flanders, its position further from the finish now means it is less likely to have a major effect on the outcome of the race. Rather it is now the place where splits in the peloton happen and where Team Ineos’s Classics campaign invariably crumbles.

See the ultimate Muur van Geraardsbergen on Komoot

18 - Col de la Bonette, Alpes-Maritimes, France (25km, 6.5%)

Words Martin James Photography Patrik Lundin

The signposts calling the Col de la Bonette the ‘Highest Road in Europe’ may be wrong (that’ll be the Veleta in Spain) and technically it’s not even the highest pass used by the Tour (that’s the Col de l’Iseran)

But by the time you’ve reached the Bonette’s 2,715m summit, having climbed for fully 25km from Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée to the southeast, you probably won’t care.

The views from the summit are breathtaking and the terrain otherworldly – bare, barren and blackened from exposure to the elements. And you can gain another 77m of height by tagging on the short loop road to the Cime de la Bonette. Bragging rights matter at this altitude.

See the ultimate Col de la Bonette route on Komoot 

17 - Col d’Izoard, Alps, France (14.1km, 7.3%)

Words Sam Challis Photography Alex Duffill

Its official name may be the Col d’Izoard, but we think the Col d’Its-so-hard would be more appropriate.

After a deceptive start up through the valley from Guillestre that has questioning why you aren’t going faster, the climb just doesn’t stop getting steeper until you reach the barren scree slopes of the Casse Déserte, a dramatic backdrop that has hosted some key moments in the Tour de France.

A short descent is the opposite of a relief, breaking your rhythm and making the final 2km, 10% stretch to the summit feel that bit harder. It is job done from then on though, as you barely have to pedal for the next 20km down to the beautiful restaurants of Briançon.

See the ultimate Col d'Izoard route on Komoot 

16 - Pikes Peak, Colorado, USA (25.3km, 6.5%)

Words Stu Bowers Photography Geoff Waugh

This is a truly iconic climb in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, made famous by the annual Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – an auto race that has seen cars skidding up the course since 1916.

By bike it’s a heady test of athletic ability over 20-25km of ascent (depending on where you deem the start to be) through over 156 turns. But the biggest challenge of all is dealing with the altitude.

The climb begins at over 2,500m and tops out near 4,300m – almost twice the height of your average Alpine climb.

See the ultimate Pikes Peak route on Komoot 

15 - Colle dell’Agnello, Cottian Alps, Italy (22.4km, 6.5%)

Words Joe Robinson Photography Alex Duffill

With its 2,744m summit acting as the border between Italy and France, the Italian south side of this climb provides a vivid reminder of one of the greatest days of Grand Tour racing in modern history.

Stage 19 of the 2016 Giro d’Italia from Pinerolo to Risoul, Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk is sitting pretty in pink with a three-minute lead. But then the shark of Messina, Vincenzo Nibali, takes his bite on the Agnello descent as Kruijswijk plunges into a high snow wall.

In Milan, Nibali is resplendent in a second-career Maglia Rosa. Kruijswijk doesn’t even make the podium.

See the ultimate Colle dell'Agnello route on Komoot 

14 - Furkapass, Uri and Valais, Switzerland (12.3km, 7.3%)

Words James Spender Photography George Marshall

We reckon the western approach from Oberwald is the Furka’s most rewarding side to climb. It’s steeper, the height gain is more appreciable and you get to experience the once grand, now creepily abandoned Hotel Belvedere for that much longer.

Plus this is the ‘official’ direction of James Bond, with 007 pursing Goldfinger west to east. By the same token, the eastern descent is more gratifying, with more hairpins, unfurling views and slowly increasing temperatures on the way to Realp.

‘Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?’ ‘No, Mr Bond, I expect you to ride!’

See the ultimate Furka Pass route on Komoot

13 - Alto de l’Angliru, Asturias, Spain (13.2km, 9%)

Words Martin James Photography Alex Duffill

Discovered by Vuelta organisers in the late 1990s and pounced upon as Spain’s answer to France’s Ventoux or Italy’s Mortirolo, the Angliru is brutal and spectacular in equal measure.

The first half is relatively manageable, but then the gradient lurches upwards, regularly spiking to well above 20% and averaging a crippling 17.5% for a full kilometre near the top.

Over the Vuelta’s seven visits the Angliru has established itself as one of the hardest climbs in all of pro cycling, the summit often shrouded in mist to lend the place an ethereal and almost apocalyptic feel.

See the ultimate Alto de l'Angliru route on Komoot

12 - Cap de Formentor, Pollença, Mallorca (3.5km, 4%)

Words Sam Challis Photography Juan Trujillo Andrades

Geographically and figuratively this climb is the jewel atop Mallorca’s cycling crown. The road was designed by Antonio Parietti, the genius behind the island’s most famous climb, Sa Calobra.

The road wends its way out to the lighthouse at Mallorca’s most northerly point in similarly jaw-dropping fashion – swooping over, around and through a jagged limestone coastline surrounded by azure waters.

The dramatic scenery makes the road feel remote, but from the lighthouse it is really only a short hop, skip and jump before you are back sipping an espresso at a beachside cafe in Puerto Pollença.

See the ultimate Cap de Formentor route on Komoot 

11 - Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii (92km, 5%)

Words Peter Stuart Photography Patrik Lundin

Mauna Kea is the world’s hardest road bike climb. Fact.

Starting from the shores of the Pacific Ocean, this climb rises 4,192m to the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. The 92km at 5% profile doesn’t do it justice.

There is a 24km stretch at 9%, a 12km stretch at 12% and a rolling 16km stretch at 7% with back-to-back spikes of 15%. Near the top, at around 4,000m of elevation, there are long chunks at over 20% – some of it on gravel.

At the summit, the panorama is overwhelming. Polynesians who first set foot here considered it the top of the universe, and if you saw it for yourself you’d agree.

See the ultimate Mauna Kea 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.