Why the Angliru is cycling’s most-feared climb

MADRID (Reuters) – The shortened edition of this year’s Vuelta a Espana is heating up – and Sunday’s stage 12 is probable to enjoy a important aspect in determining who will be putting on purple in Madrid next month.

Coming just a day after a punishing 170km mountain stage, the 109km route is significantly shorter than a standard Grand Tour stage – and with good purpose.

Riders will deal with five categorised climbs and finish at the summit of what lots of industry experts contact the toughest ascent in the activity: the Alto de l’Angliru.


There is a indication that welcomes riders onto the “The Mount Olympus of Cycling” in its early slopes.

It is a bold assert for a solitary-observe road in a reasonably unfamiliar pocket of northern Spain, but whilst the Angliru could possibly not have the fame of the likes of Mont Ventoux or the Stelvio Go, its brutality is almost unmatched in grand tour terms.

Averaging more than 10% for its 12.5km distance, riders acquire 1266m as they gradually snake their way up the slender roadways that commonly only enjoy home to cattle.

That percentage is all the a lot more challenging specified the 1st 50 % of the climb has an ordinary gradient of just 6.8% – normal fare in biking terms.


If there are to be any fireworks, they will arrive when riders have handed kilometre 6 – marked on the road by daubing that say ‘Hell commences here’.

From the climb’s halfway place it averages in excess of 13%, with kilometre 11 an eye-watering 17.4%, which include sections of ramps that hit 24% – and do not slip beneath 16.2% – at the 450 metre Cuena les Cabres section.

It is this place that breaks numerous newbie riders tackling the climb – and at that steepness it is nigh-on extremely hard to resume using, primary quite a few to convert all-around back to the start out defeated.


Previous Scottish pro David Millar famously refused to finish a 2002 stage that culminated at the climb’s peak, halting his bicycle just in advance of the end line and getting off his rider range in protest. He was eradicated from the race for not ending the stage.

“We are not animals and this is inhuman,” Millar said at the close of the brutal stage. On that working day, Millar crashed descending the Alto del Cordal en-route to the Angliru, and this calendar year riders will get the exact route into the summit end.

Oscar Sevilla, who arrived fourth in that year’s Vuelta, described it as “an inhumane climb.”

Meanwhile previous Kelme team supervisor Vicente Belda went one additional, indicating: “What do they want blood? They inquire us to stay cleanse and avoid doping and then they make the riders deal with this variety of barbarity,” when asked about the climb.

WHAT Moments CAN WE Hope TO SEE?

A variety of elements, including the past day’s phase, the region’s unpredictable climate and group energy will arrive into engage in with regards to what times riders will clock up on Sunday.

King of the mountain Roberto Heras is recorded as having climbed the Angliru in 41 minutes 55 seconds – a time that is under no circumstances probably to be overwhelmed – in 2000, extra than a minute more quickly than the second-quickest by Chris Horner in 2013 (43:06).

Exercising monitoring app Strava’s swiftest recorded time is by Steven Kruijswijk at 45:33 through the 2017 Vuelta.

This will be the eighth time that the Vuelta has taken on the climb – the previous time was a few decades ago, when Alberto Contador won the phase for a next time (he did so earlier in 2008) in what was the final gain of his profession.

(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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