Next up it's the truly daunting Colle Delle Finestre. Recently named the worlds most epic climb by GCN, this is a 18km climb that you'll do well to make one ascent of with 8km of gravel, an average of 9.4% and zero respite all at the mercy of the the weather.
Dave's going to be knocking out over 5 reps on a climb that is beautiful as it is brutal... all just 3 days after battling the Rocacorba.
Words - Brendan Edwards
Average Gradient: 9.4%
Maximum Gradient: 14%
Elevation Gain: 1,688 metres
Surface: 10km sealed/7.8km unsealed
Link to the Strava segment here:
Colle delle Finestre is a mountain pass in the Cottian Alps, in the Italian region of Piemonte and links the Susa Valley to Val Chisone. The road was built around 1700 to gain access to the fortresses in the area. The Colle delle Finestre is long, steep, narrow and very, very windy road with close to 60 hairpins along the way. It is an incredibly challenging climb that appealed to the organisers of the Giro d’Italia, and has been included in several of the recent grand tours. A high level of fitness is required to even attempt one ascent of this climb.
The first 2km of this climb are quite brutal! This road offers a narrow, twisting series of switchbacks that climb through a forest out from the valley floor from Susa, and is sealed over the first 10km of this climb. This climb is very steep and unrelenting with zero respite, it was built to military specification resulting in a consistent gradient.
After you pass through Meana di Susa, there are stretches which are truly amazing. You pass through beautiful old Chestnut woods and around morehairpin bends for about three km’s. Whilst in the forest you reach the Colletto di Meana. This is where you’ll start to earn your money. This is definitely the most demanding part of the climb. You’ll find the unpaved section is steep and being gravelly concentration levels need to be high... especially on the way down.
Once you’re out of the forest, the top of the pass finally unveils itself. You will be able to see the valley below... if you suffer from Vertigo, possibly give this one a miss, with sudden huge drops to the side of the road. The views just get better and better, and the road gets rougher and rougher.
Despite the incredible views, much of your time will be spent looking at the road in front of you. Bouncing along rutted roads, and trying to pick the right line through the maze of gravel.
When you near the top of this climb. The hairpins gradually became scarcer and the road even starts to straighten out. You'll definitely experience a feeling of pride and relief to get to the top of this one.
Check out GCN's great overview of the Colle Delle Finestre 'It's the toughest climb you've never heard of.'
The Colle delle Finestre will test the hardiest of climbers, and it’s the type of climb where you have to battle it as much in the mind as with the legs. The empty landscape in front of you may seem a far cry from the Giro d’Italia, and if ever you’re struggling, you can picture thousands upon thousands of fans standing to either side of the road screaming at the top of their lungs. Some would have camped here for days, many quite drunk. A flare suddenly exploding right next to you. You picture a fan running alongside you screaming in a foreign tongue. You fear for your safety, and then you realise that you’re day dreaming all alone and just delirious suffering in a cyclists familiar place. “The pain cave”. This is one heck of a hard climb!
The road is open for travel between June and September.
The climb starts from Susa which is easily accessible by autostrada (Freeways)and there’s a railway line too.
Forte del Colle delle Finestre
Along the climb you will pass a very old abandoned fort. The Forte del Colle delle Finestre was built in 1815 to control the pass connecting Val di Susa and Val Chisone. It is a 2 story building made of stone and overlooking the ravine. The fort housed up to 130 men and was fitted with 57mm cannons. It was manned during World War I, but abandoned as the front moved and decommissioned in 1928.
You will pass this fort on your way up. This late 19th century Italian fort was in use until 1928.