Is This The Best Place To Test Your Hill Climb Power?

Coach Neil has many climbing choices in Tuscany, following on from his first favourite climb post he describes the most famous climb in the area.  Monte Serra…

Monte Serra is a fantastic training climb which dominates the horizon between Pisa & Lucca in Tuscany.  There are three different roads to reach the TV antenna at the top which peaks at around 900m; all three routes to the top are quite different.  From Calci the climb has a series of tough ramps and shallower grades with a nasty leg breaking 1-2km of 10% to the crossroads finish, there you have the option to continue to the to antenna which is the summit at 900m or you can descend to Buti which is the known test climb for all levels of cyclists. 

From Buti there is the official Monte Serra test, it’s certainly the most climbed with over 20,000 strava recorded attempts compared to 12,000 from Calci and 7,000 from Compito.  The climb from Compito is the toughest, a real true climb, almost 7km at an average of 9% with the last 2km averaging no less than 10%.  Get your pacing wrong on this one and you will be pedalling squares to the top!

Back to the test segment! It’s 6km @ 8%.  Having climbed this around 30 times in all conditions I would say it’s pretty much a perfect test climb, not savage but certainly if you push too hard during the first couple of km’s at 8-9% which is very easy to do you will pay later on when the gradient eases up a touch. 

I’m not sure what exactly the record time is or who holds it but there are reports of sub 16-mins from a few quite famous recent Tour & Giro winners!

The current Strava record is held by Pro Chris Butler 16m 40s with a VAM of 1710 (Strava data).  The Top 20 is littered by current and ex pros that use the climb pre-season and pre-tour to test threshold power.

The power file below is from my quickest ascent, not exactly a rested test effort as I had climbed from Calci before but good pacing enabled me to push on during the second half.  As I mentioned earlier it’s easy to blast out at the start, adrenaline takes especially when the gradient is high, and before you know it you are pushing 50 watts above your FTP or target power.  During my best effort I remember keeping an eye on the power-meter just to make sure I was in the right area even though the perceived exertion felt quite easy.  

Monte Serra test climb from Buti:

24mins 24 secs    255NP    255W   60KG   4.25 W/per KG   VAM 1153

Coaching, Testing, TrainingNeil Kent