100 cols, 10 days – a unique journey that tests and builds the body and spirit in equal measure.
A route that demands slightly less but that is no less spectacular. Remote mountain tracks, hill-side villages, varied climbs, outstanding vistas - all makes for an intoxicating ride. This is one of three Cent Cols that will be collectively ridden at a slower average pace of 18 km/h.
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 accomodation|
|Day 1 Bastia - Corte||194 KM||3,800 M|
|Day 2 Corte Loop||188 KM||4,250 M|
|Day 3 Corte - Propriano||190 KM||4,100 M|
|Day 4 Propriano loop||199 KM||3,900 M|
|Day 5 Propriano - Porticcio||160 KM||3,200 M|
|Day 6 Porticcio loop||180 KM||3,500 M|
|Day 7 Porticcio - Porto||188 KM||3,700 M|
|Day 8 Porto loop||150 KM||3,400 M|
|Day 9 Porto - Ile Rousse||213 KM||3,200 M|
|Day 10 Ile Rousse - Bastia||158 KM||2,500 M|
|Departure Day Transfer day|
See full itinerary
Following a brief but grand view of the western coast from the Col de Terghine, the route takes us due south across wooded hills, through remote villages and over eight main climbs. We almost come back to sea level after a 26km downhill section, near San Guiliano, before an even longer climb due west up to the Col de Casardo. From here it is a bumpy ride further inland to the busy town of Corte
Teghime, San Cervone
A stage of contrasts. The opening climb, the Col de Vergio, requires upward cycling for almost 50km and is rightly considered the most beautiful and challenging on the island. Narrow roads with jaw-dropping views keep the mind occupied. An equally entrancing road awaits on the downward side, towards Porto. Then another of Corsica’s wildly remote roads tackles rocky hillsides taking us south-east, eventually finding the N193. It is a long slog to the top of the Vizzavona but at least the original road up remains, allowing us to battle the climb away from traffic. Another smaller upward section spoils an otherwise perfect descent section to the stage’s end.
Vergio, Tartavello, Vizzavona
After the exceptionally beautiful climb to the Col de Sorba, the greater part of this stage follows the green spine of Corsica, a fabulous mixed forest through which the D69 struggles to find its way. Most of the tarmac on this stage seems brand new, though some clearly isn’t. The Verde tops the stage, leaving three climbs and some fabulous descents before we see the sea.
Erbajo, Sorba, Verde, Vaccia, Saint Eustache
"From one port to another, our route first goes inland, heading towards the curious rock formation of the ‘Aiguilles de Bavella’, which can be admired from the col of the same name. Back down through the charming village of Zonza, we then head north-east along more twisting roads, taking on the Col de Vaccia from its southern side this, before rolling along a bumpy section that includes several cols but no major climbs. A very pleasant 28km, more or less downhill, finishes the stage. "
Col de Bavella
A southern swoop along the coast opens the stage, before some sharp climbing inland towards the Col de Cortone, which dominates the forest of Chiavari. The profile from here until the 1,200m Col de Scalella is particularly jagged. More narrow roads (few back lanes are left unexplored by the end of our trip) eventually take us to the 20km section to the top of the Scalella. Another long descent down to sea level closes the stage perfectly.
Col de Scalella
This bumpy ride takes us first along the west coast, along a gently rising (and falling) road, before veering off again onto the ‘lost roads’ common on the island. Harsher climbs are to be found along the way but the stage really comes alive in the last 60km. This contains a section of spectacularly wild and apparently forgotten tarmac, followed by the severe climb up to the Col de Sevi – with its 12% final kilometre. The 22km descent down into Porto is one of the best pieces of road you could ever wish to cycle on.
The shortest stage of the event but starting with the longest climb – from sea level to 1,400m in 36km. Descents galore follow, before a beautiful ridge section with distant sea views. Finally, we plunge down to sea level for a rollercoaster ride taking us to the grand finale of this stage: part one is the road to the beach via Col d’Osini; part two is the descent through the famous red-rock Calanches of Porto. Quite exceptional.
Col de Vergio, Sevi
The first of the two-stage ‘tour’ of the north of the island. An 80km coastal stretch is a real treat to open the stage, taking us to Calvi. From here, we turn inland for some higher view points of the azure Meditteranean. This stage includes the toughest climb of the Challenge, with a few quite steep bits. After this battle, the rest of the stage seems gentle but always entertaining.
To begin the ‘Tour of Capi Corsu’ we first traverse the Desert des Agriates, from St Florent up along the rocky coast on perfect roads to Abro, from where we take the high road to Pino – a very dramatic piece of tarmac. Cutting east here, across the Cap via the impressive Bocca di Ste Lucia, we then descend to the much tamer east coast to enjoy a fast 20km on a sweeping smooth road. But then we head up to San Martino for some more infinity views of the azure blue sea. This stage is less predictable then might be expected and makes a perfect curtain call to this very special series of rides.
Bocca di Vezzu, Col de Santa Lucia
My 6th CCC and the best. Outstanding route, comfortable hotels, great food and superb support staff.
— CCC Cantabrico 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.
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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)