Tag Archives: Pinerolo

Climbs of Alpe d’Huez to Italy Part 3 – Colle dell’Agnello

31 Aug

The Col Agnel or Colle dell’Agnello links France with Italy. At 2744m, it is the 3rd highest pass in the Alps after the Stelvio and the Iseran. Leaving Pinerolo, we split the route of Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France (Pinerolo – Col du Galibier) over 2 days . The Italian ascent of the Agnel is very hard with the final 10km averaging 9.5%. There are ramps of 14% and lengthy sections of 11-12%.The lower slopes are gentle but still provide enough resistance to sap energy from the legs. The climb seems to go on for ever – leaving Pinerolo, you will climb 2400m upon reaching the summit.

Halfway through the interminable final 10km

Halfway through the interminable final 10km

Looking down on the gentle lower slopes of the Agnel

Looking down on the gentle lower slopes of the Agnel

It is by far the hardest climb I have ever done but its difficulty made it all the more worthwhile. A year in the Alps has taken the edge off reaching the summit of most Cols, however the Agnel was different. The thrill of conquering a mountain pass was rekindled and I soon forgot the impossibly difficult last 10km. It is a stunning climb and must be one of the hardest climbs in the Alps.

Exhaustion atop the Col Agnel

Exhaustion atop the Col Agnel

More exhaustion...

More exhaustion…

Climbs of Alpe d’Huez to Italy Part 2 – Sestriere

30 Aug

9556167448_6948446eac_b

Following the ascent of Montgenèvre, we continued into Italy via the Colle di Sestriere. The ride is similar to the northen ascent of the Galibier with one col(le) split into two separate climbs. From Cesana Torinese, the climb is 12km long at an average of 6%. As the averages suggest, it is fast and rolling with a couple of steeper pitches upon approach to the ski station. The scenery is stunning with snow-capped mountains and a ravine on your right hand side.

9553373705_ea680a0f45_b

Sestriere was one of the host towns for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and on the descent towards Pinerolo, you pass the enormous ski jumps which are still in use. The descent is over 50km and very fast. On the descent you have the possibility of following stage 17 of the 2011 Tour de France by climbing the Colle di Pra Martino. Whilst the climb itself is pleasant, the plummet down the other side makes it really worthwhile. This is where Thomas Voeckler bunny-hopped into a driveway. The descent is very steep and the road surface poor. It twists and turns through tiny villages and the poor surface is hidden by the trees. However despite all of this, it is great fun and a worthwhile detour.

Vincenzo Nibali spooted testing his form before the  Vuelta

Vincenzo Nibali spotted testing his form before the Vuelta