Friday, February 17, 2012

They climbed the Monte Zoncolan, comments

Monte Zoncolan, from Ovaro side


Eudald, Spain
Climbed in 1992 with 3 friends. Is a very nice mountain to go. I think is more harder than Mortirolo and Angliru (spain) which i rate level 3. My rating is 4 because the level 5 i think is only for the maximum climbs: Scanupia-MalgaPalazzo, Nebelhorn, Saltner-Edelweiss and only some others.

Robert, Netherlands
...''Gateway to hell'' is correct under the circumstances! Once on the summit, you feel inconvincible though, as you have just finished one of the toughest climbs in Europe... A couple of days later, I climbed the Mortirolo and that was - or at least seemed - much easier.

jdam, Netherlands
... Did 300 different climbs dureing the last 20 years, but this one is special. I used the 34-25 for the whole climb and it was tough. If yoy ever have the change to climb it. Do so you will remember it. ... I did the climb in July 2011 with perfect weather. Teh first 3 kilomters are tough but when you passed the little village aand have a few meters flat road it begins to climb very steep. I used the 34-25 for the whole climb it''s really tough. Nothing (except the Scanuppi which i did in 2009) can compare to this one. I''ve climbed more the 300 different climbs (not the Angliru) and this one really is special. If you have a change to climb it, do so.

Greg M, Australia
... Rode the Zoncolan on the giro stage for 2011. Had a 34 28 and found it very difficult but possible. The large number of people walking up for the stage and the mountain bike riders wobbling added to the challenge. Had at least 5 people on road and mountain bikes fall over in front of me when they couldn''t keep momentum. A MUST DO climb. Did Stelvio, Passo Giau, Mortirolo, Stelvio and Colle del Finestre and this made Mortirolo seem easy in comparison..... Strangely if I am back in that part of the Alps I''d do it again! :)

Glenn Caruso, United States
The Zoncolan has my vote for the hardest road bike climb I''ve ever done. A technical problem forced me to ride it the first time in a 34-23 and I remember thinking I could have saved a few grams by leaving the seatpost and saddle at home - I didn''t spend much time sitting down. I''ve been lucky enough to catch two Giro stages on the Zoncolan and keep getting attracted to ride it again. The best part is when you get a chance to ride the Mortirolo a few days later and start thinking that one is easy! It would have been a real spectacle if Pantani had ridden the Zoncolan during his best years.

Mike Kilduff, New Zealand
The hardest climb Ive done because of the steepness. I made it up on a 39-24 but after about 4km (the first steep section) I was boiling over so I resorted to zig-zaging up the steep parts of the road. 

Arrigo Frisano-Paulon, Italy
It certainly lives up to its hype. Tough, beautiful, and you will need every ounce of strength. But yes, it can be done. Just to give you an idea, I am 42 years old, weigh 80 kilos and did it with a 34x25 (no triple) without stopping, just a few zig-zags here and there. This means its tough, but not impossible. After Liariis you immediately get a sense of whats coming: 300 straight meters, sign says 13% but feels more like 15%. Thats what you get for the next 6 kms: 15% average, 18%-20% max, never under 12%. First 3 kms of those 6 is the hardest part, then 3 to 6 are just a bit lighter but since youre tired from the first part, the pain is the same. When you see Indurain, the tough part is almost over. Last 2 kms are human, with only a violent ramp ca. halfway and then the last 400 m or so at around 12% (curious thing, it almost feels like nothing, compared to the rest). Hard to make comparisons with Angliru... probably Zoncolan is just a bit tougher because you need to be in red zone for 6 kms straight, and thats a lot of time here, with Angliru lets you rest here and there. You need to be mentally tough and know that those 6 kms wont give you any break, never... it just get worse as you accumulate acid.

Richard, United States
I climbed this the day the Giro went through in 2010. By far the hardest climb Ive ever done. I had to get off my bike at one of the few switch backs on the mountain because my hart was going into the red zone even though I was just trying to pace myself up. I hardly ever get off my bike, but I had to here. I was in excellent shape and had trained hard for this particular week of muliple climbs. However, it was much more prudent to get off the bike for a few minutes than to keel over on one of the steep sections of this unbelievably hard ascent. Good luck and leave your ego at Ovaro.

Daniel, Hungary
... It is inhuman. We were all young, accomplished climbers (late 20s and early 30s) but we all suffered terribly, in spite of being in great form. Nothing compares to it Ive ever done. Probably with light gearing I could have enjoyed it somehow... I had 39x27 as bottom gear but I realized that it is somehow easier to go with 39x24. Of course I couldnt sit down on the saddle (almost) at all. I had blisters on my palms by the time I got to the top. I have never, ever suffered on the bike that badly. My average heart rate was 179 for one hour and 15 mins... I have to admit, although I made it to the top, the mountain proved stronger than me that day. For I had nothing left in me, I had to give it everything: joy, hate, anger, theye wer all gone. Only emptiness remained. There and than I swore that I will never, ever again will do that climb on a bicycle. On foot, or with a car, yes. With bike, no. Would I do it again though? But of course... every goddamn year, if I could make it to Italy that often.

Martin, United Kingdom
... Loved the climb. Done several of the other classics (including Huez, Galibier, Tourmalet, Ventoux) and this is as good as any of them. Apart from being (much) steeper it is quite different in character. First the road is very quiet and much of the climb is in woods so plenty of shade (needed!). While there is the occasional hairpin there are also long straight sections which makes the climb all the harder.

Mauro Repetti, Italy
I have claimbed Zoncolan from Ovaro the 28 july 2007. Unhuman, terrible, incredible, I have no others is a lot more hard than Mortirolo.... It is important not only the legs and the breathe, but above all the can climb this one only with the have to find your pedal.

renko, Switzerland
What a mountain!! It is harder than the Mortirolo, no other pass is this difficult. Its not easy to get to, though.


I was watching the Giro on TV this morning and the commentators said the Monte Zoncolan at the end of the stage is the toughest climb in any European bike race. ... Are there any tougher climbs anywhere in the world (on a paved road open to the public)? Anything with an average grade > 10% with a 5000 foot elevation gain?

That climb today was the nastiest climb I've ever seen in a grand tour.

Yeah, all the Euro bike race guys say the Ventoux is the nastiest climb, but I don't think most of them have done the Zoncolan, which wasn't used for bike races until today's Giro stage.

Mortirolo and Zoncolan have about the same elevation gain, but Mortirolo is only 10.5% average.
Ventoux is taller, but only 7.4% average.

“I did the Zoncolan in the 2007 Giro d’Italia and I had bad memories of it but this time it went much better”, Arroyo claimed. “This is harder than the Anglirù in Spain where you have some breathing space every 500 metres. Up here it goes steep for six kilometres with nowhere to recover."

1 comment:

  1. Come with own comments, Team Zoncolan! Or are you scared? I have visited Finland and I could not see any mountains there. How in earth did you flatlanders select this terrific uphill?