Finding a col that's more famous than the Colle del Nivolet is easy. Finding one that's more beautiful isn't. If there's such a thing as a cycling paradise, this is it.
Picture 1 (Adobe Stock): View on the Lago Serrù (l) and the Lago Agnel (r)
The Italian Colle del Nivolet is perhaps the most unknown climb on this list. This road connects the regions of Piemont and Valle d'Aosta. Although it's col, with a road bike only the south side is accessible. The north side is unpaved, but can be done with a MTB or even a gravel bike although you will have to walk a few sections. The surrounding consists of the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. The Gran Paradiso is the highest mountain that's entirely on Italian soil.
The south side
The climb runs through the Valle dell'Orco. A valley that's located in a far corner in Italy. Several towns could be assigned as the starting point. From Cuorgné, at the beginning of the valley, it's a massive 55 kilometres to the summit. The first 25 km are false flat. The road connects many small villages to each other. Further down the valley, the road becomes smaller and more peaceful. Keep in mind: there's 3 km long tunnel on the main road, right after Noasca. The beautiful road that goes around the tunnel was long inaccessible, but it's reconditioned in 2019 because of the passing by of the Giro (see the video below between 2:00 and 3:30).
The village of Ceresole Reale is the last sign of civilization. From here, it's another 15 km to the top. The gradients vary quite a bit, but suffering is guaranteed. The nature around the Gran Paradiso is incredible. It's nothing more than rocks, waterfalls, and view on the eternal snow. After the two lakes, Lago Serrù and Lago Agnel, you'll ride the last 4 km in utter loneliness. This is not a climb you'll probably do again, so make sure you enjoy as much as you can. It's a beauty you should have done.
This climb's made its debut as the final climb in stage 13 in the 2019 Giro. Because it's a dead end and a nature reserve, the finish line was drawn at Lago Serrù (2275 m). Zakarin won the stage. Watch the summary below.
Click on the image to download the route.
Colle del Nivolet
delle Fauniera /
Colle dei Morti
Passo della Novena
du Grand-Saint-Bernard /
Colle del Gran San Bernardo
|18||Roque de los Muchachos||Spain||2426|
|20||Col du Granon||France||2413|
Picture 2 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): View on the valley
Picture 3 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): View on the Lago Agnel and the last kilometres
Picture 4 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): The final part
Picture 5 (Adobe Stock): View on the Lago Serrù and the Lago Agnel (foreground)
Picture 7 (Google Maps): Unfortunately, it's a dead end