La Vuelta A España
Stage 17 (mountain stage #6)
As it often does, the Angliru will probably decide who wins the Vuelta, and will almost certainly decide who the strongest climber in the tour is, and who wears the blue polka dots into Madrid. Fortunately, there are only two Category 1 climbs before the Angliru, which glancing at the profile above should show you the magnitude of just what this monster climb is.
There is a fun story behind this climb: this road was paved for the sole purpose of becoming a cycling climb. In the late 90s, the Vuelta organizers wanted their own Alpe d’Huez, Tourmalet, Stelvio, Ventoux. Thus, they decided to create a new road up the Pico La Gamonal mountain in the most scenic part of Spain, Las Ubiñas-La Mesa National Park.
But perhaps they got carried away, and made it too hard. This climb is so steep in places that the team cars have stalled. A team manager once said: "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. Former Scottish pro David Millar famously stopped a half-meter short of the finish on Angliru and refused to cross the line in protest: "We are not animals and this is inhuman.”
The Angliru (#25 World) is one of the few world ranked climbs to ever be included in a Grand Tour. We presume that in general the race organizers in general stay away from climbs of this caliber of destruction to keep the riders more focused on racing. However, as we’ve learned, not the case for the Vuelta organizers!
Other world ranked climbs to be included in Grand Tours are:
# of times included
Vuelta a España
Colle delle Finestre
Vuelta a España
Alto de l'Angliru
Passo dello Stelvio
Croix de Coeur
Monte Grappa/Bocca di Forca
Tour de France
Col de la Loze (Meribel)
*Monte Crostis was scheduled to be in the 2011 Giro, but the stage was canceled.