The highest climbs of Europe #7 - Colle dell'Agnello


Wednesday 17 June 2020 by Herman Nekkers


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!

Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 1 (Adobe Stock): Stunning hairpins

Colle dell'Agnello/Col Agnel

Country: Italy/France
Height: 2744 meter


Location

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.

Cycling history

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.


Gran fondo's

None

Profiles

Colle dell'Agnello Col AgnelColle dell'Agnello south

Colle dell'Agnello Col AgnelColle dell'Agnello north

Routes and tours

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.

The highest climbs of Europe, the list

7 Colle dell'Agnello
Col Agnel
Italy
France
2744
8 Passo Gavia
Italy 2632
9 Col du Galibier
France 2632
10 Colle del Nivolet
Italy 2632
11 Grossglockner
Hochalpenstrasse
Austria 2571
12 Timmelsjoch /
Passo Rombo
Italy
Austria
2509
13 Pass Umbrail Switzerland
Italy
2503
14 Colle delle Fauniera /
Colle dei Morti 
Italy 2481
15 Nufenenpass /
Passo della Novena
Switzerland 2477
16 Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard /
Colle del Gran San Bernardo
Switzerland
Italy
2473
17 Furkapass Switzerland 2436
18 Roque de los Muchachos Spain 2426
19 Hochwurtenspeicher Austria 2421
20 Col du Granon France 2413

Pictures

Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 2 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols)South side


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 3 (Adobe Stock): South side, a small lake a few km from the top

Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 4 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): The last corner from the south side


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 5 (Ron Pronk): North side, the road is more or less straight


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 6 (Herman Nekkers): North side, lovely view on the road uphill


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 7 (Ron Pronk): north side, kilometers ahead


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 8 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): Just 5 km to go


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 9 (Ron Pronk): A switchbacks breaks the rhythm


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 10 (Ron Pronk): North side, one of the steep sections


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 11 (Herman Nekkers): 'Flamme rouge'


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 12 (Herman Nekkers): In the last kilometer

Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 13 (Herman Nekkers): Marvellous view from the summit to France


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 14 (Ron Pronk): The summit


Colle dell'Agnello Col Agnel

Picture 15 (Ron Pronk): The summit, view in Italy







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