Roads to Ride

Stelvio Trafoi

the landscape, no matter how sumptuous it may be, doesn’t add much to a big race. The race is sufficient in itself, it finds greatness in its own means. It ennobles the scenery more than it borrows from it.”
– Antonine Blondin, L’Equipe, 1964

Cycling is one of the few sports to take place in the real world. Roads are sporting arenas, mountains are turned into venues.

Over the years different roads have become famous and even mythologised by the sport. The Arenberg cobbles hold a special place in the sport because of the Paris-Roubaix race but on a normal day the road is a muddy trail used by dog walkers and there’s nothing inherently beautiful nor dramatic. Similarly there’s a nice view on the way up but Milan-Sanremo’s decisive Poggio is little more than an access road to ramshackle hothouses where flowers grow, the most ordinary of places.

To pedal up some mountains is to follow in the slipstream of history and often the most famous roads present their challenges, they have become famous because they are hard to ride and therefore prove crucial to the outcome of a race. But others in this list are included because they’re so scenic they are worth the detour, proof that a race route doesn’t always make a great ride. Mountains often feature and this probably because they are decisive, extreme and breath-taking. But there are a few flatter routes with cobbles below and you’ll even find a cycle path that is flat and seal level yet full of Belgian’s keenest cyclists including many local pros.

Alpe d’Huez The Ghisallo
Mont Ventoux Col de la Madone
Col du Soulor Passo Dello Stelvio
Mont Aigoual Col de la République
Croce d’Aune Strade Bianche
Col d’Eze The Poggio
Arenberg Cobbles Col du Tourmalet
Côte de La Redoute Col du Pin Bouchain
Puy de Dôme La Planche des Belles Filles
Col du Lautaret Colle del Nivolet
Col du Palaquit Champs Elysées
The Col du Galibier Lacets de Montvernier
Hautacam The Schelde Bike Path
Col de Marie-Blanque Jebel Al Akhdar
Genting Highlands Mont Brouilly and the Beaujolais
Passo delle Erbe The Koppenberg
Sa Calobra Monte Carpegna
Monte Serra The Chartreuse Trilogy
La Farrapona Colle delle Finestre
Pra-Loup Col du Glandon
The Ghent Velodrome Col du Béal
Col de Turini Monte Zoncolan
Passo dell’Abetone Plateau de Beille
Col de l’Iseran The Mortirolo
Combe Laval Colle di Fauniera
Joux-Plane Grand Colombier
Madone d’Utelle Muur van Geraardsbergen
Mont Faron The Cipressa
Puy Mary The Jaizkibel
The Basilica San Luca The Mont du Chat
The Kogashi Forest The Cormet de Roselend
Nice to Sanremo Mount Etna
Blockhaus The Plateau de Solaison
Muro di Sormano Plateau de Glières
Col du Pré The Emosson Dam

Simon June 22, 2014 at 5:10 am

Would someone please enlighten me as to where the second photo in this article is taken?
Thank you.

The Inner Ring June 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

The top of the Colle delle Nivolet, one of Europe’s highest passes. It’s in Italy but since the Giro has never visited it’s almost secret.

Simon June 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Thank you for the reply. A road to dream about as we hit the middle of winter down south in Australia.

Juha May 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

The link

says Page not found 404 error


The Inner Ring May 29, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Fixed that now.

tv_vt August 12, 2016 at 10:46 pm

How about one for Switzerland, IR? I rode the Bernina Pass a few weeks ago, along with the Maloja Pass and Forcola di Livigno, and they were all stunning. Great road surfaces and wider lanes than nearby Italian roads.

matt September 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Switzerland is glaring in its omission. Some incredible mountain passes.

And the Champs Eleysees?! don’t recommend rolling on that unless the roads are closed…

Steve Mc Donald November 3, 2016 at 12:38 am

I’ve been lucky enough to ride at least ten of these roads and each one has been more amazing than the other. I’m hoping to chalk up another few in 2017 while wearing my //INRNG Jersey 🙂

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