Type : Road Bike
Total difference in altitude
For experienced cyclists, Nove Colli is the ultimate cycling competition in Italy.
It is one of the most important on a European level and it takes place in Cesenatico in May every year. About 11,000 people register (and, by the way, the competition has a closed number of applicants!). Participants set off at 6 am in the morning for the first grid, the red one.
There are two trails: the "short" one (130 km) and the "long" one (200 km).
It begins at a brisk pace, as the first 28 km tend to be covered at very high average speeds (over 40 km/h) and cyclists take advantage of the trails of those who came before them. The first hill is in Bertinoro.
Unfortunately, even if the departures between the different groups are staggered, it’s highly likely you'll be walking up Bertinoro hill, especially if you started on the third grid.
Once you reach the square in Bertinoro, you'll head towards the Polenta and, once again, this ascent be done on foot - there are just too many cyclists!
Once you make it down to Meldola, the road starts to slope upwards, and this is where the Pieve di Rivoschio hill starts: this is 8 kilometres with average 5% inclines and peaks of 9%.
The feeling of taking on that hill with so many other cyclists is indescribable. Looking up and see bikes in throngs on the hairpin turns above and below you is incredible; however, it is unrealistic to think you can keep at a steady pace. Overtaking is extremely hard: to do it, you need to zigzag and you risk touching other bikes. Therefore, it's best to stay calm and continue at the pace set by the crowd. After a couple of kilometres, the road becomes flat.
Often along the trial, there will be spectators offering water to cyclists because, at this time of the day, you really start to feel exhausted due to the sun. The vibe created especially by all the people on the side of the road cheering you on and applauding, is incomparable, then there's the music and the commentators to give you that energy boost - you're going to need it, because from here to Sogliano it's a succession of ascents and descents, and significant inclines.
You'll then reach the Ciola hill: this is 6 km with an average incline of 5.5% and a maximum incline on 11%; once you'll taken on the Ciola, turn to Mercato Saraceno, and it's immediately time to tackle the "Barbotto". Many people know this hill: 5.5 km with an average incline of 7% and peaks of 18% which are extremely hard especially in the final part.
Once you reach Sogliano, you can go down Ponte Uso - a beautiful 3 km descent - then turn right towards Pietra nell'Uso and up Montetiffi, continuing on to Pietracuta
The ascent is hard; you'll be feeling tired, but it's the worst time to give up.
After the ascent, you'll go through the centre of Perticara, where refreshments await you; the competitive athletes won't even look in their direction - they'll be focusing on the chronometer.
Then it's downhill to SP Marecchiese as far as Ponte Baffoni and back uphill for the 7th hill of the 9 colli. This hill is called Madonna di Pugliano and its the highest point of the 9 colli reaching approximately 790 metres. However, it is not excessively challenging with an average incline of 5% and a maximum of "just" 12%!
Once you've completed this hill, it's back down to San Leo; from here you're back on the Marecchiese up to Passo delle Siepi, which will act as a taster to the last real hill of the 9 colli. Passo delle Siepi is 4 km long and has an average incline of almost 6%, and it never exceeds 7%.
A taster, we say, because once it's done, it's back downhill towards Ponte Uso, across Stradone for the very last hill.
That hill is Gorolo: for many, it's the hardest hill of the 9 colli because it's the last one, because when you get there, you are exhausted and because, even if it's only 4 km long, it has an average incline of 6%, but it has peaks of almost 17%.
When you're done with the ascent and you have reached the top in Borghi, you may think you've completed the race, but there's more! You still have the final 25 km back to Cesenatico. Fortunately, these are all downhill, then the terrain is flat until you reach the finish line.
In brief, 9 colli is a long challenge (200 km), 89 km of which are uphill, 77 km are downhill and 34 km are flat sections with a difference in altitude of 3,840 metres, which would put any athlete - even the best-prepared ones - to the test. Without a doubt though, anyone who completes it, will remember it for the rest of their lives!