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’…

Giro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 5

Monte Zoncolan

GPS of the ZoncolanZoncolan info page

We were moving to Mestre today, to participate in the Open European Mahjong Championship.

But since C. insisted he should definitely climb the Monte Zoncolan, they made a ‘little’ detour to Ovaro.

After all, it didn’t look that much of a detour on the map, but on Italian (secondary) roads…

He should have known from the transfer two days before from Vipiteno to Longega for the Furcia.

So, after another 3 hour drive, he was actually not so fresh anymore, but now that they were here anyway, he might as well go for it…

Read moreGiro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 5

Italy 2011 – D-Day

Giro d’Italia 2011 – D-Day

Toerbeest and Cyclopaat are leaving for Italy later today for their own version of the Giro d’Italia 2011.

For first time (foreign) visitors: the latter is Robert, the former is Paula, who will support C. during his bicycling trips.

She will follow him by car, take pictures, shoot movies and provide him with supplies (varying form food to dry clothes).

All-in-all she’s probably delivering a bigger effort than our self declared cycling hero…

Anyway, first stop will be the Albergo Bräuhaus in San Pietro (Lajen, Bolzano) – from there, C. will conquer some high altitude passes and on Sunday he will enjoy a (car and motor bike free) Sella Ronda Bike Day with 4 mountain passes.

On their way to Mestre for the Open European Mahjong Championship (OEMC 2011, July 7 ~ 10), they will stop in Ovaro so C. can climb the fearsome Monte Zoncolan.

After the OEMC, they will head back to Nothern Italy, to the Alpen Hotel Chalet in Valdidentro. On their way there, they will stop in Mazzo di Valtellina, so C. can climb the Mortirolo.

Other passes on the menu are the Gavia, Stelvio and Umbrail.

On a – sort of – regular basis, depending on just how worn out C. will be at the end of each day, you will find new blog posts here, so be sure to check these pages on an equally (ir)regular basis 🙂