• Country

Every Rider’s Nightmare

By Adam Ulrich

Alto de L’Angliru is not just a demanding climb. It’s a brutal and unforgiving enemy, feared by all La Vulta riders.

The organizers of La Vuelta wanted a mountain to rival the Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France. In 1999, they found a solution and Alto de L’Angliru became a part of La Vuelta.

Elissonde wins 20th stage of Vuelta a España
(The view is pretty but the riders have no time to appreciate it. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

“It’s an inhumane climb,” said Spanish rider Oscar Sevilla. And he was right. The top of the climb is 1,573 metres above sea level and the height difference is 1,266 metres. On a 12.5 kilometres long climb, the average gradient is more than 10% while the steepest part’s gradient is almost 24%! Add fog and rain and you have what some cyclists call pure hell.

Cycling : 68th Tour of Spain 2013 / Stage 20
(Fighting the gradient. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

Teams consider Alto de L’Angliru just too barbaric, especially in a bad weather. In 2002, for example, team cars stalled on the steepest part, some unable to restart because their tires slipped on messages painted by fans. Riders were caught behind them and others had to ride with flat tires because mechanics could not reach them.

Cycling : 68th Tour of Spain 2013 / Stage 20
(Even the best riders hate Alto de L’Angliru. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

On the other hand, many fans love to watch riders suffer on this steep climb and are disappointed that Alto de L’Angliru is not a part of 2014 La Vuelta. But frankly, there is no reason to be disappointed. During Stage 14, the riders will climb the Alto de la Camperona. With its steepest gradient of almost 20%, it should be equally challenging!