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21-01-2022 | Herman Nekkers

These gran fondos have the highest finish

A tough gran fondo in mountains is a wonderful experience for many riders. And the best part is when these finish on top of a climb. The higher the better. We've listed the fondos with a high finish for you.

What do we count?

  • Gran fondos only. In other words, events for road bikes with timekeeping, classification and joint start.
  • Events in Europe.
  • Finish at 1500 meters or higher.

Let's recap. Earlier I wrote part 1 of this series with the first 9 final climbs. Now part 2 with the absolute highest arrivals. And there are some gems among them. Use the list especially as inspiration for the upcoming cycling season.

9. GF Mont Ventoux

Date: June 12, 2022
Finish: Mont Ventoux, 1909 m

The GF Mont Ventoux is what the name says. A beautiful course through Provence that includes the Gorges de la Nesque. The finish is on the most iconic climb in France, the Mont Ventoux. The medio fondo goes via Sault. The riders of gran fondo ride the famous route from Bédoin.

8. Escalada al Pico de las Nieves

Date: 29 May 2022
Finish: Pico de las Nieves, 1912 m

The gran fondo Escalada al Pico de las Nieves finishes on the highest mountain in Gran Canaria. This 27 km climb is truly a beast. The hardest kilometer is 14% with peaks that are even higher. Furthermore, the climb contains a whole series of kilometers above 10%. You just have to stand there. Fortunately, you will find the necessary refreshment points along the way, because in late May it can already be quite hot on Gran Canaria.

7. La Madeleine

Date: August 7, 2022
Finish: Col de la Madeleine, 1993 m

If there was a prize for the most unknown fondo with the most fantastic course, La Madeleine would be in with a chance. Just think about it, the famous climbs follow each other. First, via the Col du Mollard to the Col de la Croix de Fer. Followed by the Col du Chaussy with the beautiful hairpins of the Lacets du Montvernier. And finally, a finish on the very famous Col de la Madeleine. What more could you ask for? You won't get much better than that.

6. Tour des Stations / Marmotte Granfondo Valais

Date: August 6, 2022
Finish: Col de la Croix de Coeur, 2175 m

The longest, highest, most beautiful, it doesn't matter. Whatever list you make, the Tour des Stations/Marmotte Granfondo Valais will be on it. So it is again. The Col de la Croix de Coeur is heavily underestimated and it is the final climb of all different routes. Just after the foot is an unpaved track (see photo), followed by a steep wall of 20%. Then comes about 20 km on a road that with some imagination can be considered paved. Horribly difficult and worthy of a final climb.

5. Col de la Loze by Brides-les-Bains

Date: 17 June 2022
Finish: Col de la Loze, 2304 m

Nice small-scale gran fondo. In 2022, there will be a new route where the Col de la Loze will be climbed twice. The first time from Méribel and the final climb from Courchevel. The Loze has proven itself in a short time as the hardest climb in France. There's no better guarantee for painful legs.

The event is still small in scale at the moment, but that could soon change. The Les 3 Vallées area is rapidly developing into the best cycling area in France. We wrote about this before.

4. Tour de la Vanoise

Date: 2 July 2022 (ultra fondo) / 3 July 2022 (medio fondo and gran fondo)
Finish: Val Thorens, 2318 m

The Tour de la Vanoise is a versatile cycling event. Riders have the choice of several interesting distances:

  • Ultra fondo 315 km/8000m+  including the Col de la Madeleine and Col de l'Iseran.
  • Gran fondo 120 km/3800m+ including the Col de la Loze from the hard side.
  • Medio fondo 70 km/2010m+.

All of them finish at altitude in Val Thorens, a place you reach after a 35-kilometer climb. In contrast to most other events, this one doesn't start in the valley, but in the finish place. At altitude, in other words. The first dozen kilometers are formed by a fast descent.

3. Galibier Challenge

Date: 5 June 2022
Finish: Col du Galibier, 2642m

Original route from Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. First two lesser known climbs (Montee d'Orelle, Col de Beau Plan), followed by the classic climb of the Col du Galibier via the Col du Télégraphe. At the beginning of June you drive up here through the snow walls. Simply awesome.

2. Kaunertal Gletscherkaiser XXL

Date: June 12, 2022 (not confirmed!)
Finish: Kaunertal Glacier, 2750 m

Very tough gran fondo with two climbs up the Pillerhöhe. This is a relatively unknown climb, but one with many kilometers above 10%. The final climb to the Kaunertal Glacier is an absolute top climb, both in terms of beauty and challenge. Through 29 numbered bends, the riders are completely squeezed.

1. Granfondo Stelvio Santini

Date: 12 June 2022
Finish: Passo dello Stelvio, 2757 m

The only gran fondo to finish on Italy's most iconic climb. Heavy course with the climb to Teglio, the Mortirolo from Tovo (with sections up to 27%) and the Stelvio from Bormio as the final climb. There are several courses; all of which finish on the Stelvio. Usually you drive through walls of snow. It doesn't get any more beautiful.

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