When cyclists take on mountains

A new collection of photographs of some of the world’s most challenging cycling climbs shows how the sport has more than its fair share of beautiful backdrops.

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Gotthard Pass, a regular feature of the Tour de Suisse © Michael Blann

Michael Blann‘s new book, Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs, reveals some of the terrain that competitive cyclists are lucky enough to get to ride, even if the landscape does little to aid their suffering as they negotiate the Stelvio Pass or the Alpe d’Huez.

We shouldn’t feel too sorry for them, of course: as well as the glory and romance of the sport itself, the stunning scenery in which they race only adds to the drama of the spectacle.

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Col du Tourmalet, the most visited climb in the history of the Tour de France © Michael Blann
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Lacets de Montvernier, sometimes described as an Alpine Scalextric. The climb has 18 hairpins that switch back every 150m © Michael Blann
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Gavia Pass, its slopes covered in snow © Michael Blann

Blann’s camera reveals the scale of the challenge to the intrepid peloton – the immense passes, the winding ravines – but also lingers on moments which show a sole competitor on a twisting road with nothing but the mountains for company. Yep, pretty epic.

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Col d’Abisque © Michael Blann

Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs is published by Thames & Hudson; £34.95. The book contains 190 photographs. See thameshudson.co.uk and michaelblann.com

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