Colle del Nivolet

Italy

Stunningly beautiful – and totally mythological. This climb ticks all the boxes.

In the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy, at the top of the Orco Valley, Colle del Nivolet reigns as one of the most beautiful and best climbs. Perhaps also, one of cyclings’ best kept-secrets – it has only recently featured in the Giro d'Italia. The climb is over 40km and ascends 1959m to 2641m altitude, with an average gradient of 4.9% and max gradient of 15%.

From Locana, the climb starts with a gentle 14km warm-up.

But first, it is four narrow and punchy ‘out-of-the-saddle’ hairpins.

Top tip: after a few kilometres, there is a decision to be made between a 3km long dark and narrow tunnel, or a service road that keeps you questioning about getting a gravel bike – we suggest to take the off road adventure.

Set in the woods, the mid-section of the route takes you through the village Ceresole Reale with stone buildings and thick slate roofs. After catching a view of Lake Ceresole, the route meanders and snakes along the river; an easy gradient before enduring the tough part of 18 kilometres ahead.

Once through the trees, it is a rustic and rather surreal scenery – raw and open. A set of switchbacks take you to the first dam, Lago di Serrù; a restaurant there to fill your bottles if needed.

Up and around, and down to the next lake.

Another set of switchbacks to ascend – built into the jagged rock.

The higher, the more the road narrows and delivers breathtaking views.

On days like this, the sun casts strong shadows on the road.

Higher yet, the ride becomes even more mythological.

Made by the cycling gods – this climb is beautiful, raw, and 100% epic.