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Legendary cols of Europe: part 2

Which col is the toughest, most famous, most iconic? Opinions differ on that one. With the Iconic Cols of Europe scratch map we try to end these discussions. In our humble opinion, these are the 20 most iconic cols, based on their history in cycling.

After part 1 we continue with part 2: numbers 6 to 10 on our map.

6. Col de l'Iseran

With its summit at 2,770 metres, the Col de l'Iseran prides itself on being the highest paved road in the Alps.

The number 6 on our 'Iconic Cols of Europe' scratch map hits the highest point of the famous Route des Grandes Alpes. The very first uphill time trial was held on the Iseran in 1939, two years after the road was officially opened to traffic.

Col de l'Iseran (from Bourg-Saint-Maurice)

Summit: 2,764 m

Length: 48 km at 4.1 average

Maximum gradient: 6.9%

7. Col de la Croix-de-Fer

Not only the average gradient, but also and especially the irregularity in the profile and the distance make the Col de la Croix-de-Fer an incredibly tough climb.

However, cyclists who venture up this Tour de France classic are rewarded with beautiful scenery on the way to the summit. Lakes, waterfalls and panoramic views across the valleys make this col perhaps the very best on our scratch card.

Col de la Croix-de-Fer (from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne)

Top: 2,068 m

Length: 29.8 km at 5.2 % average

Maximum gradient: 11

8. Col d'Aubisque

Together with the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d'Aubisque is one of the must-ride climbs in the Pyrenees.

This col first appeared in the Tour de France in 1910 and today is the second-most climbed col in the history of the race, after the Tourmalet. It was on the mountainsides of the Aubisque that Dutchman Wim van Est was rescued during the 1951 Tour de France after falling as much as 70 metres deep into the ravine while descending this Pyrenean giant.

Col d'Aubisque (from Laruns)

Summit: 1,709 m

Length: 16.6 km at 7.2 % average

Maximum gradient: 10

9. Col du Tourmalet

Together with the Col d'Aubisque, the Col de Peyresourde and the Col d'Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet is part of a Pyrenean stage called 'le cercle de la mort', or 'the circle of death'.

The Tourmalet is a real 'bucket list' col in the Pyrenees, consequently it also proudly shows off on our scratch map.

Despite having a name that literally translates from French as "bad ride", this Pyrenean giant remains the most climbed col in the history of the Tour de France. King!

Col du Tourmalet (from Luz-Saint-Sauveur)

Summit: 2,115 m

Length: 19 km at 7.4% average

Maximum gradient: 20.2%

10. Passo dello Stelvio

Who does not know it? The mythical Stelvio captures the imagination. Since 1953, the Giro d'Italia has regularly passed over this famous Italian mountain pass, number 10 on our scratch map.

As the highest mountain pass in Italy with its summit at 2,758 metres, the Stelvio needs no introduction. The climb, which starts from the eastern side in Prato, is especially popular with cyclists because of the 48 bends that offer you a unique encounter with mother nature. The landscape is diverse, rugged, authentic and captures the imagination.

Anyone who has ever conquered this col can confirm why the Stelvio is called the 'Queen of the Alps'.

Passo dello Stelvio (from Prato)

Top: 2,758 m

Length: 24.3 km at 7.4% average

Maximum gradient: 9.8%

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