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Pico de Veleta

Pico de Veleta
Monstrous challenge of 40.7km
  • Spain
  • 3.395m
  • 40.7km

About the Climb

Pico de Veleta (3.395m) is the highest paved road in Europe. This is a road in the Spanish Sierra Neveda that finishes at the summit, basically a climb to nowhere. Maybe a fruitless task, as this is a one-way journey of suffering. However, you will rarely get the chance to go so high on a bike. Perhaps this climb lacks the fame of Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux or Alpe d’Huez, but this climb is longer and tougher than all of them. You will gain 2.700 meters of elevation, which is more than twice the ascent of the Col du Tourmalet.

The length of Pico de Veleta is a long one with 41 kilometers, giving an average gradient of 6.5%. Not a smooth climb, as the last 8 kilometer average over 8%. By this stage, the air is getting quite thin and you will probably get that burning feeling in your lungs. The name Veleta means ‘weahtervane’, so you can add the wind to the challenge as well. The last few kilometers are very exposed and gusts of winds of around 100km/h are not uncommon.

The barrier marks the end of the well maintained road and the final brutal kilometers.

Your favorite route to tackle this beast should be via Guejar Sierra. The first few kilometers are tough, with sections at 14%, 15% and 17%, but there is almost no traffic on the road. When starting at Pinos Genil you will arrive after 31 kilometers of climbing at a metal barrier between. This is at an altitude of 2.550 meters. The barrier marks the end of the well maintained road and the final brutal kilometers. The road will now be a mix of heavily cracked tarmac and gravel, and most riders consider it harder than the total 31 kilometers already climbed to finish this monstrous challenge.

Don’t try to do this climb in summer, as the heat will not be at all enjoyable. You can better give it a try in May, early June, late September, or October. Remember to take a jacket because you can still get cold on a 40 kilometer descent even if it seems nice and warm.

You can decide to tackle the Pico de Veleta on the second day of the two-day El Limite Sportive. The first day covers 182km and includes 3.000m of climbing, just to warm up ahead of day two – essentially a 50km time trial up the climb from Granada.

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