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28-10-2020 | Frank Jansen

15 gran fondo's with a famous climb

Making lists of beautiful gran fondo's, at CycloWorld we can't get enough of that. In this edition: 15 gran fondo's with a famous climb. How do we define a famous climb? Completely subjectively, of course. But believe us, everyone will know the climbs we mention here ..


1. Marmotte Alpes

The most famous gran fondo in the world has not one, not two, not three but four famous climbs. The Croix de Fer (from 2021), followed by the  Télégraphe / Galibier to close "the Dutch mountain", Alpe d'Huez. No less than 4 big names, of which 3 are from the outside category. According to some the Marmotte has lost some of her shine, but we at CycloWorld disagree with that. The course is and remains legendary.

2. Marmotte Pyrenees

The most famous col in the Pyrenees is undoubtedly the Tourmalet. And that is not once, but twice included in the Marmotte Pyrenees. A gran fondo that is not inferior in weight to the 'other' Marmotte. Unfortunately for the lovers of the Tourmalet, Cycling Classics France has decided not to organize this gran fondo in 2021 because of the uncertainty regarding corona. Maybe there will be another chance in 2022. By the way, the Tourmalet is not the only known climb in this gran fondo. The Col d'Aspin is also included, and the finish changes from Luz Ardiden to Hautacam every other year.

3. Dreiländergiro

This gran fondo is one of the few that visits three countries: Austria, Italy and Switzerland. But that is not the only special thing. The route contains one of the most famous climbs in the world: the Stelvio  (also the most legendary side from Prato). The number 5 from our Top-20 highest cols. A climb you absolutely want to have done.

4. GF Gavia e Mortirolo

It is quite possible that you know this event under another name. It has changed its name 3 times (previously known as Marco Pantani, Giordana and La Campionissimo). But the name change is not why this gran fondo is in the list. You climb 2 legendary cols: the Gavia from the classic side (Ponte di Legno) and the dreaded Mortirolo from Mazzo.

5. GF Mont Ventoux

There are several gran fondo's, sportives and even multi-day tours that have "The Giant of Provence" in the course. The GF Mont Ventoux is probably the most famous. The longest route goes up from Bédoin, the short route from Sault. Finish at the top.

6. Maratona dles Dolomites

The Sella round, who doesn't know it? No less than 4 big names and then you're not even halfway the course. At least, if you ride the granfondo. If you take the petitfondo, you can have a beer after the Sella round. If not, you also take the dreaded Passo Giau and the Valparola. And all this in a beautiful environment. It is not so strange that this gran fondo always sells out quickly. 

7. Glocknerkönig

The Grossglockner is Austria's most famous climb, and perhaps one of the most beautiful. Read our article from the Top-20 highest cols. If you want to ride this col in a gran fondo you can: the Glocknerköning includes it in the route. Unfortunately, apart from the climb itself, it is not an interesting course, as you only climb the Grossglockner itself. 

8. Mercan'Tour Bonette

The Cime de la Bonette is the highest non-dead asphalt road in Europe, though not everyone agrees. A delightful climb, which may be long but not particularly difficult. The Mercan'Tour Bonette is the highest gran fondo in Europe. 

9. Alpenbrevet 

For those who want to tick off the biggest names of Switzerland, it is a good idea to register for the Alpenbrevet. And maybe the best thing to do then is to ride the silver route: Furka - Nufenen - Gotthard.... A finger licking course! If you necessarily want to ride the Grimsel, you have to ride the longer Gold or Platinum route. But then you miss the epic Gotthard (also known as the Tremola). Choosing is not so easy in the Alpenbrevet....

10. La Madeleine

This is not a walk in the park gran fondo, because apart from the Col de la Madeleine you also climb the Lacets de Montvernier and the Croix de Fer. Three rather big names, in one gran fondo. A rather unknown event, which deserves more attention as far as we are concerned. 

11. GF Stelvio Santini

This gran fondo includes just like the GF Gavia e Mortirolo, you guessed it: the Mortirolo. But not from the most famous side (Mazzo), but from Tovo. This side, which has also been in the Giro, is more irregular than Mazzo with sections up to 27%. The finish is on the Stelvio from Bormio. Two big names.

12. Super Giro Dolomiti

A long extremely heavy gran fondo from Lienz in Austria. It has only one well known name but it's a big one, the feared  Zoncolan from the heaviest side. The longest route has 228 km with almost 5500 m, so it's not going to be easy. 

13. Otztaler Radmarathon

An event that probably needs no introduction. Maybe the Küthai, Brenner, Jaufen and Timmelsjoch are not really known in the Europe, in Germany it is different. And in this monster gran fondo you're riding all of them. Extra bonus: in two of the four descents with a bit of luck you can hit the 100 km/h.

14. Sierra Nevada Limite Road

This is a unique event. There's a gran fondo to Sierra Nevada on Saturday. On Sunday there will be an extra drive to Pico Veleta (limited number of participants). The highest climb in Europe, which is why this event can't be missed in our list.

15. Les 3 Ballons

The Vosges can of course not be ignored. More and more gran fondo's are being organized here, but the one who takes the most big names with him is undoubtedly the most famous, and that's Les 3 Ballons. This gran fondo will return to the old course in 2021 which is good news. The route? Of course three balloons: Ballon de Servance, Grand Ballon and Ballon d'Alsace. And finally the finish on La Planche des belles Filles.



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