Cycling the mighty Angliru - ride 13.1 kilometers gaining 1,220 meters at 9.2% average grade.
Photo: View from Mirador (lookout) 1 km from the finish
First set of photos by PJAMM contributor Max Kueng, Zurich, Switzerland.
First Km marker on the route.
Roadway at kilometer 6.7 just before it pitches up dramatically.
Water at kilometer 6.2, but . . .
. . . not for us!
Kilometer sign at km 7.2 (just after 300 km at 16.7%)
Keep moving . . .
The steepest kilometer of the route.
First 300 meters are at 19%! 😅😅
View along the steepest stretch - if you can lift your head and “see”, not “enjoy” it . . .
The end of a 6.3 km 14% segment just before the climb levels off for the final kilometer.
VUELTA A ESPAÑA HISTORY
Abraham Olano (ESP) led the 1999 Vuelta for stages 5-11 but yielded to Jan Ullrich on stage 12
Olano leads the Vuelta on Angliru stage 8 September 12, 1999.
Photo by Marca.com
This very challenging climb has been included in the Vuelta a España (Spain’s Grand Tour) 7 times from 1999-2017 (1999, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2017). The climb was included in the Vuelta in 1999 as Spain’s answer to Alpe d’huez and Mount Ventoux of the Tour de France and Mortirolo and Gavia of the Giro d’Italia.
The fastest ascent of Angliru was by Roberto Heras (ESP) in 2000.
Best quote for Angliru "What do they want? Blood? They ask us to stay clean and avoid doping and then they make the riders tackle this kind of barbarity." Procycling, UK, November 2002.
Winners of Angliru stage
José María Jiménez (ESP)
Gilberto Simoni (ITA)
Roberto Heras (ESP)
Alberto Contador (ESP)
Wout Poels (NED)^
Kenny Elissonde (FRA)
Alberto Contador (ESP)
1999 José María Jiménez (ESP)
2000 Gilberto Simoni (ITA)
2002 Roberto Heras (ESP)
2008 Alberto Contador (ESP)
2011 Wout Poels (NED)^
2013 Kenny Elissonde (FRA)
2017 Alberto Contador (ESP)
Ron Hawk’s Summary - thank you Ron!
The Alto de Angliru is a grueling climb in the Principality of Asturias in Northern Spain. Before we tackled this climb, we started from the city in Pola de Lena and climbed the Alto del Cordal. This climb is a nice little warm-up of 5.5 km's with an average grade of 9%. Once we descend into La Vega, we turn left at a sign for the Angliru which is shortly followed by a larger sign that shows the scary statistics of the Angliru. This is the official starting point, where the road starts going straight up immediately.
O.k. - come and get it - #22 World Climb!
As we pedal up the first part of the climb, the grade is between 7% to 9% which is very mild and was ridden very carefully as to save some energy for what we knew we were about to encounter. The scenery up this road, as it snakes its way up the mountain, is very beautiful but we still don't see the peak of the Angliru which is probably a good thing. Around the 5km marker, the grade eases to around 2% as we ride through a plateau in the mountain with beautiful views of the rolling green mountains on both sides. This section is the last break we get until the last 1/2 km so we strongly suggest you use this break in the climb to get prepared for the hardest 6 km's of climbing we have ever encountered.
Before we get into the details of this section of the climb, it's important to note that the Angliru is considered the hardest climb of all the three grand tours. And after riding it, we concur completely that this climb is nothing to take lightly. When it comes to the Angliru, it's these 6 km's (6 km to 12 km) that make this climb the beast it truly is.
Now for the stats, the next 6 km's (6 km to 12 km) average over 14% with a maximum grade of 23.5%. The hardest stretch is a the 10 km marker where the grade for almost 1 km is at 20%. When we saw this stretch of the road carved into the side of the mountain, it didn't look real. It wasn't until we saw a car that past us a while back making its way up this stretch of road did we realize what was in front of us.
As we start doing this climb, we took full advantage of the switchbacks to take them as wide as possible. In the corners of some of the switchbacks, the grade easily exceeds 30% so taking them wide is a matter of necessity. Surprisingly enough, the second steepest section of the climb is in the first kilometer (6 km to 7 km) with a maximum grade that exceeds 21%. Once we get through this stretch the next 3 km's (7 km to 10 km) is pretty consistent around 12% to 16%, which looking back was probably the easiest part of this section of climbing. At a steep switchback we get to the 10 km marker and start climbing the road we saw on the lower slopes that didn't look real. After passing the 10 km marker, the grade goes to 20% and stays there all the way up this stretch of road and doesn't ease up until we get close the next switchback.
Exhaustion is kicking in and the pain from mashing on our pedals at 40 rpms at a glacial speed of 7 km's per hour (a tad over 4 miles per hour) has us swerving on the road and hoping we don't fall over as there is no way we'd be able to get back on our bikes on this steep section of road. Once we get to the 11 km marker, the road gives us a little respite with a 13% grade, maximum of 20%, which feels like a flat after what we just climbed. This is the home stretch as once we get passed the 12 km marker, the grade eases and the road actually turns flat and we are able to jump into the big ring as we cross the finish line.
This is truly a remarkable climb that we will not soon forget. It gave us everything we could handle and then some but we found a way to will ourselves up this famous mountain that most tour pros consider to be inhumane. And after we experienced this climb firsthand, we would completely agree with that assessment.
Steepest Gradients by Distance
Steepest kilometer starts at km 10 (19%)