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Monte Zoncolan

Monte Zoncolan
slow execution
  • Italy
  • 1.750m
  • 9.8km

About the Climb

The savage Monte Zoncolan (1.750m) is situated in the Alps. This is probably one of the most demanding climbs in professional road racing. Gilberto Simoni was the winner of the first two stages finishing on Monte Zoncolan in the Giro d’Italia of 2003 and 2007. He summed the climb up perfectly, “It’s like a slow execution, the easiest part of the Zoncolan is harder than the most difficult climbs at the Tour”. The Monte Zoncolan has become a reference, that when a new climb appears in a stage race it is often compared to it: ‘is it as steep as the Zoncolan’’

For decades the Giro d’Italia visited its classic climbs. For good reason as the Stelvio, Pordoi and Gavia are as difficult as they are beautiful. Basically the Giro d’Italia was on the hunt for some new challenges and in 2003 Monte Zoncolan made its first appearance via Sutrio. Nestled between the towns Ovaro, Sutrio and Priola, you got three route options to the summit. The easiest side is via Sutrio. When former pro Mario Cipollini, noted for his sprinting ability, arrived at the foot of the climb in 2003 he switched to a mountain bike. It’s 13.5 kilometers long at an average of 9% with a maximum pitch of 23%. The first 8.7 kilometer has an average of 8.7%, followed by false flat. The most demanding section is the final 3.5 kilometer with an average gradient of 13% including the 23% pitch. This will feel like hitting a wall. Even so, it’s said to be the easiest side.

It’s tempting to get out of the saddle. Stand up here and you probably won’t last

It seems that the settled choice for the Giro d’Italia is the western flank via Ovaro. The climb via Ovara was featured for the first time in the Giro d’Italia of 2007. The real climbing starts at Liariis, 8.5 kilometers from the summit. Shortly after the village, the road disappears into forest and gains 900 meters in the next 6 kilometers averaging 15%. It’s tempting to get out of the saddle. Stand up here and you probably won’t last. After this section, the road passes through three short tunnels, before a series of steep switchbacks immediately beneath the summit. You survived the hell behind you, but still you got 500 meters more to the top. It’s climb beyond brutal, even more than the Mortirolo. You should be happy to get it done without putting a foot down. The saving grace is the amphitheater like feel you get upon leaving the last tunnel. Crowds must’ve been crazy here during the Giro d’Italia.

The original road via Priola have been replaced by the newer road from Sutrio. The two roads combine around 4 kilometers below the summit. The road from Priola was first asphalted in autumn 2005. From bottom to top, the 8.9 kilometers long road gains an astonishing 1.140 meters, meaning an average gradient of 12.8%. The lower part has sharp hairpin bends and is at times very steep. The climb is briefly flat after merging with the newer road, with the remaining 3.5 kilometers containing several ramps of up to 23% steepness.

Video of the climb

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