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Sometimes the weather and gradient even forces the professionals to dismount

On yesterday’s sixth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, a 30% climb near the finish of a rain soaked stage produced the unthinkable: photos of professional cyclists dismounted and pushing their bikes.

The photos of the professional riders walking up the climb, dismounted and pushing their bikes, grinding their cleats into the Tarmac, has gone viral since the photos first hit the internet. It was the Strada Cocciari summit on the Sant'Elpidio a Mare climb that caused the damage, a 300m stretch with an 18% average gradient and 30% final 50m ramp.

While the front runners managed to ride the cruel slopes, many of those further back in the peloton clearly found it too much and dismount. These were the riders who had done a lot of work setting the pace and taking the wind earlier in the stage, and they were obviously pretty knackered by the time they hit the climb. And it did come at the end of a 200km stage...

What made the climb especially hard is the slippery surface caused by heavy rainfall. Traction is easy to come by in the dry, even on such a steep slope. Following persistent rain ,however, traction becomes a scarce commodity and stopping the wheels from spinning while applying the necessary power would have been nearly impossible. This is the main reason so many riders resorted to walking. 

It would seem that many of the riders didn’t anticipate the severity of the route's parcours and simply arrived in too big a gear. Chris Froome’s mechanics had reportedly made a change to the gearing of his Pinarello, fitting a 36x28 lowest gear. Even that was too hard, he’s quoted as saying.

Next time we’re at the point of considering dismounting, we can all take comfort in the fact that even the best sometimes have to walk

Below, thanks to Google's Streetview, you can see just how steep it really is.

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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

36 comments

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Linkinbassist [33 posts] 3 years ago
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Definitely climbable on its own. After 180km+? no-no...

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Colin Peyresourde [1748 posts] 3 years ago
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I think it's one thing coming at a hill like this fresh and another trying it at threshold as undoubtedly they would have (and after 180km or so). I think the wet slippy conditions also mean that traction was an issue. And, as is often the case in a narrow road, if the rider in front of you stops there is very little else you can do except stop yourself, so I'm not surprised the bunch was collectively hiking up the road.

Any idea what the total climb on the stage was? I'm intrigued, as it seems the profile seems very English, and it meant that it made it very hard for the teams to keep the race in check. It would be interesting to see them throw a stage like this into the Tour de France to mix things up. Team Sky really struggled with being put in the red by these sharp climbs. Makes me think how a clever collection of these stages and others might make a tour of Britain more attractive. A good race yesterday.

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NeilG83 [301 posts] 3 years ago
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Nice article David and some great photos. I think it needed proof reading before you posted it though. It has a few typos and mistakes.
Do fans really like these kind of stages? Personally, I would prefer to see the pros riding their bikes than pushing them.

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kinza [4 posts] 3 years ago
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Interesting content - but this could really have done with being proofread before being posted and highlighted on the site!!

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NeilG83 [301 posts] 3 years ago
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The Tour of Britain has used Constitution Hill in Swansea in the past. Looked very hard in the rain in 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BswlXBX6SRA

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VeloPeo [309 posts] 3 years ago
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"This isn’t a sight you hardly ever see in a professional road race"

That sentence makes baby Jesus cry  1

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Colin Peyresourde [1748 posts] 3 years ago
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Actually, it's worth mentioning that pros walk Muur quite often.

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merckxman [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Fantastic viewing and to see Sagan weaving from one side of the road to the other, cyclo cross style and still only climbing at walking pace was a sight rarely seen....lets hope Froomie wins the time trial today.

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TurboJoe [73 posts] 3 years ago
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This makes me feel better!

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Yennings [237 posts] 3 years ago
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'is the slippery surface caused by heavy rainfall in the last couple of hours in the rain.'

Sorry but did anybody actually proof this article before it was published?

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ubercurmudgeon [169 posts] 3 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

Actually, it's worth mentioning that pros walk Muur quite often.

Many are forced to walk the other steep climbs of the Tour of Flanders as well, it is just that on the TV they rarely show anything but the first dozen riders. It is even less likely now that they've bastardized the race, and it just loops around the VIP tents near the relatively easy Oude Kwaremont.

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Batfink [18 posts] 3 years ago
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I see the armchair subs are out in force again.

Its knot like your paying two reed this iz it.

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mattheww385 [46 posts] 3 years ago
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I made it up Fford Penllech in Harlech once, that's steep:
https://maps.google.com/?ll=52.86128,-4.107095&spn=0.003193,0.007564&t=h...

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/28/45/3284561_ecda6af6.jpg

Obviously this means I am better than the pros!

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David Arthur @d... [698 posts] 3 years ago
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kinza wrote:

Interesting content - but this could really have done with being proofread before being posted and highlighted on the site!!

Yes sorry about that, published the wrong version by accident, you weren't meant to see my mistakes!

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David Arthur @d... [698 posts] 3 years ago
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The pros are sometimes forced to walk the Koppenberg, but that's really due to how narrow the road is and them getting in each others way, rather than because of the severity of the gradient, as in the case of this 30% climb

//www.pezcyclingnews.com/photos/features/kopp/2010.jpg)

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Chuffy [201 posts] 3 years ago
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Hang on. In those pics the ground looks bone dry. Was it raining further down the hill?  39

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therealsmallboy [168 posts] 3 years ago
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Check this link out. The stage profile for Stage 2 Tour de France 2014.

I ride in Sheffield and surrounding area and can vouch for the severity of the bottom few climbs in the list. Jawbone is bound to see an attack from Gilbert/ Rodriguez etc...

The stage ends in a flat sprint finish near the Sheffield Arena, but I can guarantee Cav and Greipel won't be in the bunch.

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therealsmallboy [168 posts] 3 years ago
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60kg lean keen ... [69 posts] 3 years ago
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mattheww385 wrote:

I made it up Fford Penllech in Harlech once, that's steep:
https://maps.google.com/?ll=52.86128,-4.107095&spn=0.003193,0.007564&t=h...

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/28/45/3284561_ecda6af6.jpg

Obviously this means I am better than the pros!

You must be nuts!!! That one is on the ridiculous scale not for the soft or week!

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OldnSlo [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Great article, last time photo's of pro's walking was the motirolo or some such killer climb on the giro.

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jayme [117 posts] 3 years ago
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I think that Hardknot pass comes after about 150 -160 km on the Fred! Lots of riders go up that without getting off. I realise that they will be going at slower speed overall, but also they are not as fit as the pros.

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bobbylama [13 posts] 3 years ago
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A little embarrassing whenever this happens. I'm sure more so for these pros under a microscope. This happened to me several weeks ago on a climb, and I thought to pull out my iPhone to take a picture of the condition of my bike and the road to try to assuage my embarrassment as a column of cars drove past: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ORpzB7dDJps/UQg0QjdrRSI/AAAAAAAABEU/hTFnoKOVq9...

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WolfieSmith [1326 posts] 3 years ago
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kinza wrote:

Interesting content - but this could really have done with being proofread before being posted and highlighted on the site!!

Or 'proof read' even.  1

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WolfieSmith [1326 posts] 3 years ago
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Batfink wrote:

I see the armchair subs are out in force again.

Its knot like your paying two reed this iz it.

Quite! We had 1 typo in 60 pages in our first issue of Spin Cycle and it was like the world had come to an end. People were enraged at our carelessness. Ready to cancel the subscriptions they weren't paying for...  4

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stealth [254 posts] 3 years ago
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I have wondered why they don't have a 'killer' stage in the Lakes during the ToB. I would have thought that it would be fairly easy to include some nasties...

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Im sure i saw some get off and pushing on one of the stages at the Vuelta last year.
Was it Alto Hazallanas?

Also - isnt Jenkin Road in Sheffield on the 2014 TdF?
http://goo.gl/maps/1doUi
It gets to around 30% in places and i am also led to believe it sometimes rains in northern England.

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pj [147 posts] 3 years ago
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it was amazing to watch but it wasn't really bike racing, more just a masochistic clusterfuck on 2 wheels.

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glascymru [13 posts] 3 years ago
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i live in harlech and have only done penllech twice and nuts is the word but am thinking of including it in a local 4 hills challenge incorporating two other 20-25% hills; oh yeah, by the way i had to walk up and down this 40% monster daily to PRIMARY school

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andyp [1460 posts] 3 years ago
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'I see the armchair subs are out in force again. '

Standards cost nothing.

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Mostyn [396 posts] 3 years ago
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Even the toughest of pro's can sometimes feel the pain; and need to dismount, they're only Human after-all!

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