Mano-a-mano across the Med: Monte Zoncolan vs Alto de los Machucos

Which is the most fearsome ascent, Monte Zoncolan or Alto de los Machucos? Prepare for battle

Los Machucos (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Monte Zoncolan

Located in the Carnic Alps in Northern Italy lies a road so savage, so totally brutal, that the mere thought of it makes the legs hurt. Although just under 10km, the sheer amount of double-digit gradients sets it apart from all others. To ride the toughest side you must start from the town of Ovaro and although the first couple of kilometres are nothing spectacular, once you reach the village of Liariss, all comparisons to a standard mountain climb suddenly go out of the window. For the next six-and-half kilometres the slope never drops below 10 per cent and, for the most part, sits closer to 15 per cent. To make matters worse, whereas on most mountain climbs you get a brief respite round the corners, on the Zoncolan they are steeper – it is pure torture. 

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