100 cols, 10 days – a unique journey that tests and builds the body and spirit in equal measure.
The ultimate Cent Cols Challenge, first ridden in 2015 and already firmly established on the calendar. The crown jewel. This is one of the four most demanding Cent Cols and will be collectively ridden at an average speed of 20 km/h.
Single occupancy — 4 100 € per person
Double occupancy — 3 400 € per person
The Cent Cols Challenge is the brainchild of endurance rider Phil Deeker: his determination, commitment to riding and will to explore has created one of the ultimate tests of what is possible on a road bike. Cent Cols Challenges take place across Europe, criss-crossing entire mountain ranges to combine the classic routes and climbs from the Grand Tours with lesser-known backcountry gems.
Flights, bike hire and travel insurance are not included.
Because of the distances, and the huge physical and psychological challenge, the Cent Cols are for the strongest and most experienced riders. On most days riders should expect at least 8-10 hours in the saddle, and to be self-sufficient for long periods of time. The remoteness of the terrain also means that accommodation and food are less luxurious than on Rapha’s other trips. However, Phil Deeker and the Rapha team of guides, mechanics and soigneurs take care of all logistics and everything riders need, letting you focus your mind and legs on the cols. It is usual that some riders don’t complete the parcours. But, thanks to the stunning settings and the camaraderie, and possibly to reserves they didn’t know they had, riders often find they rise to the demands of the trip and take their riding to a new level.
Double occupancy as standard
|Arrival day Meet us at the first night accommodation|
|Day 1 Bilbao - Corrales de Buelna||192 KM||4,100 M|
|Day 2 Corrales - Cangas de Oni||225 KM||5,300 M|
|Day 3 Cangas - Pola di Lena||210 KM||5,250 M|
|Day 4 Pola - Cangas del Narcea||185 KM||5,150 M|
|Day 5 Cangas - Pola di Lena||190 KM||6,700 M|
|Day 6 Pola - Potes||190 KM||3,500 M|
|Day 7 Potes - Corrales del Buena||210 KM||4,250 M|
|Day 8 Corrales - Artzentales||230 KM||5,250 M|
|Day 9 Atrzentales - Leikitio||175 KM||3,850 M|
|Day 10 Leikitio - Bilbao||170 KM||3,600 M|
|Departure day Transfer day|
Beginning in front of the Guggenheim Museum, the opening stage commences relatively gently, with some short climbs in the Bizkaia hills before attacking much longer ones that are typical of Cantabria. The 17km Portilla de la Lunada truly sets the tone for what is to follow; extensive views of deserted green valleys with only a single road snaking its way across the landscape, and which hides the occasional harsh gradient.
Collado de la Espina, Portillo de Lunada, Puerto de La Braguia
This is a stage steeped in Vuelta history as we hit the climbs of the Asturias region – the long Collado la Hoz is where Alberto Contador ripped the race apart in 2012. Before ending with one of the most iconic climbs in the region, we have first to deal with the Jito Escarandi, known by few but remembered by all who have been there. The stunning Lagos de Covadonga concludes this epic day and both the gradients and the views will leave you gasping.
Collada de Carmona, Collado de Hoz, Jito Esarandi, Lagos de Covadonga
This stage takes riders through three different national parks (Picos de Europa, Ponga, and Redes). The climbs are long but steady and the beautiful landscape will be there to inspire all day. A stage that will teach you about the mining history of this region as well as demonstrating why it is so popular with tourists.
Puerto El Ponton, Puerto de Tarna
A tough stage bookended by two of the three big climbs here. The Gamoniteiro is exceptionally beautiful and wild coming after only 6km of flat; the San Lorenzo is a brutal 12% slog; the El Acedo closes this feast with true drama, which is why the Vuelta loves this one too. A graceful descent sweeps us down to the Parador hotel. Stages four and five form a figure of eight route that make up the most dramatic central part to this somewhat demanding event.
Gamoniteiro, Puerto de San Lorenzo, Puerto de Somiedo
Both versions of this stage deserve the title of ‘Queen’. Some of the quietest roads of the event feature, as well as some of the steepest with gradients of up to 20%. There is an option to do an extreme version, which is the hardest CCC stage ever to be presented. Riders planning to do this will need to notify us before the event, at which point full details will be given out. In both versions, the penultimate climb of the Angliru will stand out as the crowning test.
Puerto del Maravio, Alto de L'Angliru
More stunning landscapes in the heart of the Picos de Europa. The roads are quiet with climbs whose length is more testing than their gradients. The core of this stages’ challenge is provided by the ‘Triple Crown’ of the Panderrueda, Pandetrave and San Glorio climbs, before a long descent to Potes rewards the effort. This is the town where we spend our Rest Day: deliberately chosen after six stages because it is full of charm and bars serving the local ‘Sidra’.
Puerto de San Isidro, Puerto de San Glorio
This stage takes us across the Sierra del Escudo de Cabuerniga and through the National Park of Besaya. A couple of gentle climbs that will loosen the legs, before three much tougher ones in the latter part of the stage. Two dam-summits mark this stage that includes our farewell to the Picos and a dramatic return to Cantabria.
Back in the green lushness of Cantabria but another especially tough stage consisting of numerous ‘medium’ climbs. A Pyrenees feel to this stage, with narrow roads and true pastoral beauty. We end the stage firmly back in the Bizkaia hills with two exceptional final stages to follow.
Portillo La Sia
This stage provides the reason why so many fine climbers come from the Basque country. The home of Zeus-Orbea-BH bikes, there is no flat to be found anywhere here. No truly high climbs either, but then they don’t need to be. A gradient-feast ending at a picturesque fishing village for a seaside rest well-earned.
Puerto de Elosu
After a welcome gentle coastal road to start the stage, it’s time for more Basque ‘walls’, true local gems that will give your legs one last test before we choose whether to take the shortcut to the finish in Bilbao – or take in all 193 clicks because we want to. The second of a connoisseur’s duo of Basque craziness that will provide many anecdotes for chats on future training rides.
Ride routes and on-bike food/food stops were outstanding!
— CCC Pyrenees 2015
I think what makes these rides so very special is the fact that Phil and Rapha Travel even dare to attempt them: on paper, they look ridiculous and in practice, they are just that - but also, somehow, possible. Most riders have reserves they never knew existed and Phil's planning and ability to improvise, results in the majority of riders completing stages and events beyond their wildest dreams.
— CCC rider, May 2016
All our trips are physically demanding, but some are harder than others. Cent Cols Challenges are the toughest challenge. Our guides will support every rider to go beyond their usual level of riding, but you should be able to spend up to 10 hours in the saddle for multiple days.
We ask all customers to pay a deposit (usually £500/$800/€650) when they book, which confirms their reservation. The balance is due 60 days before departure – we’ll get in touch to remind you when it’s time. If you book less than 60 days before departure, we’ll usually ask you to pay the full trip price upfront.
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 482 9175
Hours: 9.30am-6.00pm (BST)
Hours: 8.30am-5.30pm (PDT)
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 482 9175
Hours: 9.30am-6.00pm (BST)