Epic Climbs ... your 2019 Bucket List

Grand Tours Project

Jan / 25 / 2019

Our 2019 tours have been announced, the Grand Tour routes have been shared and we are pretty excited for the upcoming cycling season. With more than 150 climbs featuring in our 2019 tour list, we decided to highlight our top picks and set you the ultimate 2019 project! How many can you tick off this year?


1. Passo San Gottardo/ Tremola

Highlights: The Tremola. With its cobbles and its incredible sets of switchbacks, this pass is like nothing else you will ever experience in the Alps.

Stats: From Airolo, length: 12km, elevation gain: 900m, average gradient: 7.3%

Departing from the Italian-speaking town of Airolo, the ascent starts to the Gotthard which summits at an altitude of 2091m. The world’s fourth-longest road tunnel swallows most of the north-south traffic; what is left takes the main pass road. Cyclists climb the ancient road, called the Tremola. Uniquely for the Alps, its 24 upper hairpin bends feature cobblestones. Once at the top, Andermatt is no more than a few kilometres further on (and down!)

Ride Passo San Gottardo on the Switzerland Explorer or Iconic Passes Getaway bike tour.

2. Grosse Scheidegg

Highlights: It’s closed to traffic and offers a breathtaking view of the famous Eiger North Face.

Stats: From Meiringen, length: 16.4km, elevation gain: 1,262m, average gradient: 7.7%

The Jungfrau Region is not necessarily known as a road cycling destination, but it does offer one of Europe’s finest passes: the Grosse Scheidegg (alt. 1,962m). Between Meiringen and Grindelwald, the road passes below 1700m-high flanks and offers unique views of glaciers and the notorious north face of the Eiger! Moreover, it is car-free; the only vehicles allowed are the famous yellow PostBuses.

Boasting a rise of 1300m over 16km to reach the summit and with gradients as steep as 12%, the Grosse Scheidegg is a unique cycling experience that has to be earned. This is followed by a dizzying descent to Grindelwald, a quintessential village well placed for offering a rest at the foot of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau massif.

Ride Grosse Schidegg on the Switzerland Explorer or Iconic Passes Getaway bike tour.

3. Albula Pass

Highlights: Switzerland's most scenic pass, riding under the Albula railway bridges.

Stats: From Tiefencastel, length: 30.5km, elevation gain: 1,563m, average gradient: 4.8%

The Albula may be the most scenic pass we have ridden in Switzerland. On National Bike Route 6, you’ll ride through pristine villages with lavishly decorated Engadine houses. On the way up you’ll rider under the spectacular Albula Railway bridges, a UNESCO World Heritage Site before getting to the rugged top at 2,315m. The pass is a regular feature of the Tour de Suisse; in 2013, Thibaut Pinot was the first at the top but it is Rui Costa who won after the final descent into la Punt and the famous resort of St Moritz. It's long and beautiful!

Ride the Albula Pass on the Switzerland Explorer bike tour.


1. Mortirolo

Highlights: Tackle the toughest climb in Europe!

Stats: From Mazzo di Valtellina, length: 12.8km, elevation gain: 1,289m, average gradient: 10.1%

The Mortirolo is renowned for its 30+ bends and narrow road that winds its way gracefully to the summit, without any remorse for the riders. First featured in the 1990 Giro d'italia this climb has become a classic due to Pantani's unforgettable ride in 1994. His ascent time of 42m 40s is still a standing record and it's only fitting that on turn 11 you will find a tribute to the pirate himself! You really will be riding on the roads of a true legend!

Ride the Mortirolo on the Giro D'Italia "Ride Every Kilometre" or "Experience" bike tour.

2. Muro di Sormano

Highlights: We can't decide if its type 2 or 3 fun! It hurts... really ... really bad and for what? Was it really worth it in the end?

Stats: From Sormano, length: 1.9km, elevation gain: 304m, average gradient: 15.8%

Does it matter if this climb is enjoyable? It's the most challenging 2km strip of climb your likely to find in Northern Itlay. Muro means wall so here's our advice. Firstly this climb maxes out at a gradient of 25.7% so make sure you attempt this with the correct gears! Secondly when you reach the writing on the floor that's when the fun begins... we say keep pedalling and resist the constant urge to wobble off your bike!

Ride the Mortirolo on the Giro D'Italia "Experience" or Bianchi Alpe d'Huez to Stelvio bike tour.

3. Stelvio

Highlights: Italy's highest road pass

Stats: From Bormio, length: 21.5km, elevation gain: 1,533m, average gradient: 7.1%

The legendary Stelvio departs straight from the town of Bormio. The spectacular views coupled with glorious winding roads make this ride an unforgettable journey. Upon arriving at the summit (alt. 2,758m) looking back over the route you have just climbed is an incredibly satisfying moment. Once you have enjoyed a coffee, it's time to decide if you will descend down towards Switzerland or return to Bormio. Whatever road you choose you in for a real treat ... forget a sports car the best way to experience the exhilaration of descending the Stelvio is by bike!

Ride the Stelvio on the Bianchi Alpe d'Huez to Stelvio bike tour.


1. Cormet de Roseland (via Col du Pré)

Highlights: Breathtaking views!

Stats: From Beaufort, length: 26.5km , elevation gain: 1,247m , average gradient: 7.1%

Linking Beaufort and Bourg St Maurice, the Cormet de Roseland is without a doubt one of the most breathtaking cols in France - the scenery is simply stunning and defined by the beautiful blue Lake de Roseland. Passing two other cols on the route is part of the journey. The first, Col du Pré is 12.6km has an average gradient of 7.7%, followed by the second, Col de Méraillet where you will enjoy a beautiful ride around the lake. Finally arriving to Cormet de Roseland, 5.7km with an average gradient of 6.5%. This ride is one to behold and you will take numerous pictures!

Want to ride Cormet de Roseland? Get in contact about our bike tours in France.

2. Col de l'Iseran

Highlights: Highest paved pass in Europe

Stats: From Bourg St Maurice, length: 48km , elevation gain: 1,955m , average gradient: 4.1%

At 2,764m, Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved pass in Europe and your ride will be a historical journey. It featured prominently in the 1949 Tour de France with a 257km epic stage to Aosta. Coppi won the stage, taking the yellow jersey from his arch rival Bartali, and wearing it for the first time in his cycling career … and he then kept it all the way to Paris. This was the stage that won him the Tour de France & Giro double in the one year, for the first time in cycling history. Truly a history-making mountain pass!

Ride the Col de I'Iseran on the Bianchi Alpe d'Huez to Stelvio bike tour.

3. Col de Tourmalet

Highlights: Highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees.

Stats: From Luz Saint Sauveur, length: 19km , elevation gain: 1,404m , average gradient: 7.4%

The rather famous HC category climb in the French Pyrenees. Yes of course you’d heard of it. It has featured 86 times in the Tour de France. Starting in the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur in the West (19 km at 7.5%) it's a long and challenging climb to the 2,115 m summit. Try to arrive over the summit (where the huge memorial to Eugene Christophe sits during summer) an hour before sundown. This way you can see an unobstructed view of the Luz Gorge for over 25km as the heat from the ground escapes to the cooling air above, creating an impressive atmospheric view. The best part of riding Tourmalet is the joy of descending the long and fast road!

Want to ride Col de Tourmalet? Get in contact about our bike tours in France.


1. Alto de Javalambre

Highlights: a beautiful observatory at the summit

Stats: From Arcos de las Salinas, length: 11.8km , elevation gain: 900m , average gradient: 7.3%

Starting in the medieval hilltop town of Arcos de las Salinas the climb to Javalambre is long and hard, rising 900 metres over uneven roads for 11.8 km with average gradient of 7.3%. The gradient consistently increases, and the hardest part of the climb begins in the last 5 km where gradients remain at 10 % and ramp up to reach a maximum 15%. Featuring for the first time in La Vuelta a España, it finally reaches the impressive summit of Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre at 1950 meters, with views overlooking the entire Sierra Javalambre. The perfect climb for a spot of stargazing, should you be riding it at night!Ride the Alto de Javalambre on the La Vuelta bike tour.

2. Alto del Acebo

Highlights: If your a climber like Yates, then you'll love this.

Stats: From Cangas de Narcea , length: 11km , elevation gain: 770m , average gradient: 7.2 %

Cangas de Narcea is the beginning of an incredible and legendary climb - Alto del Acebo in Asturias. Many battles have unfolded on this climb in cycling history. Reaching an altitude of 1,170 m at the Santuario del Acebo's... it's a tough climb. The 11km climb, with 770m altitude gain, sounds reasonable but when you throw a relatively flat section in the mix, it's easy to forget there are steep ramps up to 16%!Ride the Alto del Acebo on the La Vuelta bike tour.

3. Puerto de la Cubilla

Highlights: Traffic free!

Stats: From , length: 27.5km , elevation gain: 1400m , average gradient: 5%

Puerto de la Cubilla sits at 1,683 m, has been likened to Tourmalet, and is regularly described as the Spanish Galibier. Its main attraction is the spectacular scenery it offers while riding through the Parque Natural Las Ubiñas y de la Mesa. But most of all. It is almost traffic free. Yes, traffic free. The holy grail of cycling descriptions. It has been featured in Vuelta a España a number of times and will again be featured in 2019. With an average gradient of 5% over 30 km it is not the most challenging climb, but it is one of the longest in Asturias, and with a handful of short 10% ramps and beautiful panoramic switchbacks, it is the climb that keeps on giving. 1,300 m of col climbing entertainment. Enjoy the view at the top but enjoy your traffic free descent even more!

Ride the Puerto de la Cubilla on the La Vuelta bike tour.