10 km (CLIMB ONLY)
750 m (CLIMB ONLY)
Rocacorba is (a bit) like Girona’s Alpe d’Huez: it’s a tough climb that’s famous for the history that has been written on its slopes.
But that’s where the similarities end. Alpe d’Huez is a bucket list climb due to its often pivotal role in the Tour de France. Rocacorba’s is much less well-known and its reputation is nothing to do with famous races or TV coverage.
Since it was fully paved in around 2000, Rocacorba has been used by some of the world’s best cyclists as a test climb to see what sort of shape they’re in. For pros it’s all about getting a sub 30 minute; the climb has seen some big names turn themselves inside to achieve that. Then there’s the story of Wiggins coming along with his rollers and skinsuit to try and beat the previous benchmark set by Dan Martin...
Of all those that have ridden it, it has been popularised by one man more than any other: David Millar. He lives near the climb and his invitation-only cycling club, Velo Club Rocacorba, is named after it.
Route map and profile
Girona - summit Rocacorba:
Distance: 39 km
Elevation Gain: 1,160 m
Max Grade: 21 %
Distance: 10 Km
Elevation Gain: 750 M
Max Grade: 23 %
Avg. Grade: 7%
All metrics in this guide are approximate
HIGHLIGHTS OF ROCACORBA, GIRONA
Rocacorba is a demanding hill to climb, so getting to the top in a respectable time is the main highlight. Under 50 minutes is considered a good time for non pros; each member of Velo Club Rocacorba has an objective of their age plus 10 minutes.
It is one for those that love to climb as there's nothing at the top (other than a large telecoms mast) and the views, while great on a cloudless day, aren't nearly as impressive as Mare de Déu del Mont.
Looking for a guide?
Dave, Saskia, and the team at our partner Bike Breaks, would love to help you with anything from a day of guiding to a fully guided tour. They also offer bike hire, transfers, servicing - you name it, if it relates to cycling in Girona, they can help. Drop them an email at [email protected] or check out their website (and tell them we sent you!).
1. Girona to base of Rocacorba: 0-25 km
It’s an easy warm up over flattish countryside to the base of Rocacorba. Near Camos the ground starts to rise, and it’s a draggy, false flat to the unofficial start line.
2. Base of Rocacorba to Pujarnol: 25-48 km
The clock starts ticking as you cross the low stone bridge where the road turns left up into the trees. From the point you cross the bridge, it’s about 10.1km to the top. The first 3km from the bridge have an average gradient of 5.7%.
3. Pujarnol to summit: 48-71 km
You get a short respite as you leave Pujarnol and for about 1km the gradient reduces to an average of 1.7%. Enjoy it while it lasts: the next four kilometres are punishing: an average 9.5% gradient. It flattens out for a short 0.5km or so (gradient back to around 2.6%) and then it’s the last 1.5km crawl to the top, with gradients averaging nearly 8% and max gradients around 15%.
Enjoy the views from over the hang gliding platform; then it’s straight back down again!
Though it involves a short detour, the lake at Banyoles is your best bet; it has several cafés around its shore. Try The Aquarium - it’s the café David Millar used to stop at before hitting Rocacorba as a pro.
Read our tips for cycling around Girona before you set out.
While it might be visible from almost anywhere in Catalonia, it’s quite tricky to find Rocacorba. Ask a local - or use our GPX download!
The climb’s name comes from the 12th Century Santuari de Rocacorba. While the road is likely to be quiet, cars do use it. The road is narrow and there have been accidents. Take care.
This is not an easy climb. Ensure you have sufficient food and drink (there are no refreshment stations) and an extra layer of clothing for the descent. Avoid Rocacorba in wet conditions, due to the road surface.
Rocacorba is that kind of iconic climb that inspires people to use its name: as well as David Millar’s cycling and dining club, Velo Club Rocacorba, there’s also Girona’s elite men’s racing team, Rocacorba Racing.
The Olot loop takes you very close to the foot of the Rocacorba climb; people often add it on to the loop.
Found this guide useful?
- We'd love to hear from you - comment below or drop us a line.
- Don't miss our other ride guides on the area: find them in the related rides section, above.
- Check out our ultimate guide to planning a cycling holiday in Girona and other articles on Girona, below.
Looking for help organising your trip to Girona?
Bike Breaks Girona Cycle Centre are our cycling holiday partner in Girona.
From their shop in the old town, they've been helping cyclists explore Girona for the last ten years.
Bike Breaks offer everything from fully guided tours to standalone services like bike hire (top of the range Cannondales), airport transfers, a day or two of guiding and/or support car. They're extremely knowledgeable and very friendly too.
Their mission is to make sure all cyclists have a fantastic time in Girona, so even if you don't buy anything from them, make sure you visit their shop. There's an awesome route planning station that's free to use and they've got the most fantastic collection of cycling memorabilia for you to gawp at!
Just make sure you let them know we sent you!
Get in touch with Dave, Saskia and the team: