The Colle dell'Agnello, between Italy and France, is one of the most photogenic climbs. Both sides are free of heavy traffic and have magnificent views. Moreover, it's quite an achievement to ride it. An awesome col!
Picture 1 (Adobe Stock): Stunning hairpins
The Colle dell'Agnello is a border pass between the Italian region of Piedmont and the French region of Hautes-Alpes. Col Agnel they say in France, but in this article we use the Italian name Colle dell'Agnello. The road is located in a remote corner of both countries and therefor there's hardly any traffic. This is a col as a col should be.
The north side
The Colle dell'Agnello is a climb of superlatives. How Italian can it sound? Perhaps the most extinct col in the Alps. From Italy, one starts in Sampeyre. From there it's 32 kilometers of climbing. The first long stretch is on a typical Italian narrow road through an extinct valley. A lot of false flat with an occasional steep part. Here you have a breathtaking view ofrough mountains. After Cianale it's another 9 kilometers of climbing. Merciless kilometers, because it is on average 10% to the top. With only a few kilometers to go you see the road frighteningly against the mountainside. It's hardly possible to cycle against it, but the dazzling sight compensates a lot. At the top you catch your breath and realize how great this climb is.
The south side
The French side is hardly inferior. From Ville-Vieille it's 21 kilometers and it goes up steeply. After 5 kilometers you can make a trip to Saint-Véran, the third highest village in Europe. The car-free road runs almost straight through the valley, so you can look out for miles ahead. The middle part is a bit milder and here it is intense enjoyment for climbing lovers. Put your hands on the handlebars and let the breathtaking scenery affect you. However, the last 8 kilometers are more than difficult. Several passages of 12% make life miserable. Tough stuff. But whoever reaches the top has put in a sublime performance and conquered of the most beautiful cols. On the col as well as during the whole climb you can enjoy fabulous views. The Agnello is a col of superlatives. Both sides are more than worth the effort.
Only five times the Agnello was part of the grand tours. That's probably because it's a border pass. But Dutch cycling fans know this col all too well. This is where Kruijswijk looked for a snow wall in 2016 and lost the victory of the Giro.
Unfortunately the Agnello doesn't lend itself for a nice tour. So you either have to go to the top, or you drive on.
Click on the images to download the routes.
Col du Galibier
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): South side
Picture 3 (Adobe Stock): South side, a small lake a few km from the top
Picture 4 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): The last corner from the south side
Picture 5 (Ron Pronk): North side, the road is more or less straight
Picture 6 (Herman Nekkers): North side, lovely view on the road uphill
Picture 7 (Ron Pronk): north side, kilometers ahead
Picture 8 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): Just 5 km to go
Picture 9 (Ron Pronk): A switchbacks breaks the rhythm
Picture 10 (Ron Pronk): North side, one of the steep sections
Picture 11 (Herman Nekkers): 'Flamme rouge'
Picture 12 (Herman Nekkers): In the last kilometer
Picture 13 (Herman Nekkers): Marvellous view from the summit to France
Picture 14 (Ron Pronk): The summit
Picture 15 (Ron Pronk): The summit, view in Italy