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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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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.
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.
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!
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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