Did You Know: the climbs

We have no concept of what these mountain passes are like. Suikerbossie, for many the crunch point of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, is a mere 1.8km at an average gradient of 7%. The Cape Town Cycle Tour – to most of us defined by its hilliness – gains 1 200m in 109km. In the recent Giro d’Italia, three stages accumulated over 4 000m, and another four more than 3 000m. The Queen stage – the hardest of them all – saw the riders climbing 4 588m in just 184km… to put that in perspective, you would need to climb to the bottom cable car on Table Mountain, 10 times after finishing the ‘Argus’ to get even close to understanding how hard these stages are.

In 2018, we are returning to Alpe d’Huez, one of the fabled climbs of the Tour. It has 21 hairpin bends – each named after a stage winner here – take the riders up a 13.8km climb averaging 8.1%. How hard is that? Well, the hard part of Suikerbosrand is nearly as steep (7.5%), but only 2.4km long. Boulders is 7.1%, for only 6.5km. Kowyn’s Pass averages 6.6% for a healthy 7.4km. Du Toits Kloof, from the Paarl side, is suitably long to compare at 13.5km, but averages a gentle 5%…