Monte Zoncolan

As part of my Giro d’Italia of 2011, the infamous Monte Zoncolan (1,750 meters) was included in the road book.

I took on the ascend from Ovaro, after a three hour drive to get there – shortly before 1pm, with a temperature of well over 30 degrees Celsius at the foot, I got on my bike.

The fatigue from the stages the days before, coupled with the temperature – rising to 37 degrees while climbing – made this the only ascend to date, during which I thought several times that I would not make it…

Report here.

For the Giro of 2015, I considered a new attempt at the Monte Zoncolan – better prepared this time – but I wisely put a lid on that.


Zoncola - profile from OvaroFrom Ovaro, the ascend of the Zoncolan is ‘only’ 10.5 kilometers long, but with an elevation gain of 1,210 meters, the average incline amounts to a staggering 11,5%.

Any well trained cyclist will be able to conquer an 11.5% stretch, but to put the Zoncolan into perspective: the steep section of a well known climb like the Cauberg (UCI World Championship, Amstel Gold Race) has an 11% average section, but that is only 200 meters long…

Anyway, read the stories on ClimbByBike and if that doesn’t make you shit your pants, Google for comments by professional cyclists like Damiano Cunego: “The Monte Zoncolan is not hell, it is not a monster. It is much worse than that…”

The steepest kilometer has an average of 16.5% and the steepest shorter sections get up to 22%. Do not be fooled by the ‘uniformity’ of the profile picture – every time you think it can not get any worse, or if you hope you will be able to catch your breath, you will be confronted with an even more impossible stretch.

It’s only between kilometers 8.5 and 9.5 – the part with the galleries – that you are offered a short respite, before you take on the final steep 800, 900 meters to the summit.

And if you think there will be a nice little tavern where you can recover and enjoy some well deserved snack, you will be disappointed: other than the summit sign, there is absolutely nothing there…

A few pictures of my ride on Google+ and a video from the Col Collective


Zoncola - profile from SutrioAt first glance, the climb on the eastern flank from Sutrio seems less of a suicide mission than the one from Ovaro: also some 1,200 meters of elevation gain, but over 13.2 kilometers – an average of ‘only’ 8.9%…

But when you look closer at the profile, you can see that there’s a total of about 3km virtually ‘flat’ in it, which means that the rest is just as ridiculously steep as the climb out of Ovaro.

However, the ‘flat’ bit between kilometers 9.8 and 11.2 you should use to the max to ‘recover’ and prepare for the insane final 3.2 kilometers, which averages 13% – that’s worse than the other side throws at you…

Zoncolan summit
At the time, I didn’t realized there was something missing at the summit ‘memorial’…