After several years with a strong emphasis on the North of Spain, 2015 sees the Vuelta concentrated more in the South and other parts of Spain. However, the Vuelta wouldn’t be the Vuelta if it didn’t have a couple of key stages based in Asturias and 2015 is no exception.
Despite neither of the famous climbs of Los Lagos de Covadonga and the L’Angliru featuring in this year’s Vuelta, stages 15 and 16 should be as spectacular and exciting as ever. The organisers have decided to try out some new climbs this year and I must admit their choices have been good ones.
Stage 11 in Andorra and Stage 14 from Vitoria to alto Campoo will have already filtered the peleton, so by the time they reach Asturias a select group of GC contenders should have been well established.
But Asturias should once again decide who is standing on the Podium.
I don’t think Stage 15 (Comillas to Sotres, 175km) will be a decisive stage in terms of GC placings, but it may well see a couple of the top riders drop a place or two. Having completed a mountain top finish the day before in Cantabria, the riders will be tested once again with the gruelling mountain top finish of the Alto de Sotres. The organisers have given it a Cat 1 status but it’s a seriously tough climb, mainly because of the sting in its tail. With plenty of double figures before arriving at the village of Sotres itself, the road kicks up as soon as you pass the village. The climb to the top then has several ramps of up to 20% and indeed, the final kilometre averages 14%. For this reason I’m sure one or two riders will gain some time here. The climbs before Sotres such as the Alto del Torno, although pretty tough for mere mortals such as myself. are not the type of climbs that I feel will effect the overall GC, but are where me may see a break or two.
Then comes Stage 16 (Luarca to Ermita de Alba, 184km) and this is a completely different kettle of fish and may well decide the podium placings. It finishes up the HC climb of the Ermita de Alba, having already traversed 6 other catagorised climbs, including the very long and steep Alto de Cobertoria.
The Ermita de Alba is a new addition to the Vuelta a España and isn’t even that well known in Asturias. This is mainly due to the fact it was only a farm track for cows not so long ago, until it was tarmaced. You can read more about the climb and see the video here: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/emita-de-alba-ca . This summit finish, with ramps of 25+% really will sort out the GC placings. It’s a stunning climb and is quite Pyrenean both in style and aesthetically but much steeper. The hardest parts of the climb come right at the end and for sure some riders will drop by the wayside up here.
All in all Stage 16 should be stunning both visually and in terms of the fight for the podium and is one that shouldn’t be missed.
Details of most of the climbs, such as El Cordal and La Cobertoria, can be seen here: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs