The Alto de L’Angliru is a brute of a climb but well worth doing if you have the legs for it.
The climb has featured several times in the Vuelta de España since 1999. Originally it had been no more than an old cattle track and was not known as a cyclist route. Even after being tarmacked this, narrow, extremely steep road still left much to be desired by some cyclists and as Pedro Delgado stated prior to the start in 1999
‘Nothing like this has ever been seen before. Riders will be getting off their bikes and walking. If you are not fit, don’t come.’
It’s inclusion in the Vuelta was due to Spain’s desire to find climbs to rival those in the Tour de France and Giro de Italia. Los Lagos de Covadonga rivaled the Alpe d’Huez and Mortirolo so the idea was that the L’Angliru would rival Mont Ventoux and Monte Zoncolan in the Giro d’Italia, and it certainly did.
It’s inclusion in the Vuelta hasn’t always been popular with the professionals riding it. In 2002 David Millar cursed “We’re not animals and this is inhuman,”, throwing his number to the floor and refusing to finish just meters before the line.
Length: 12.2 km
Vertical climb: 1245 m
Average gradient: 10.1 %
The steepest part, the Cueña les
Cabres: 23.6 % (3 km from the summit)
Strava Segment: http://www.strava.com/segments/738025
But even these stats are misleading. The overall average of 10% is of course quite daunting but the L’Angliru is a climb of two halves. The first half is tough but not too challenging. The last 6km’s, on the otherhand, goes beyond challenging -it is absolutely brutal. Once past Viapara, the climb ramps up to well into double figures and doesn’t go below 10% for 6km’s. The Cueña les Carbes is the toughest part, with almost 1km of gradients of over 20%. The problem is that you have to ride 3km’s of seriously tough climbs before you even get to Les Cabres, so inevitably you are exhausted before you even get there.
You can get a sense of what it’s like in my post about riding to the top: https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/shes-out-of-my-league/
I’ve ridden to the top once and to be honest don’t plan on doing it again. That said, reaching the top was certainly one of the most memorable moments in my cycling career so far and I would certainly recommend it.
Good luck if you attempt the climb but just remember this:
“The average gradient for the last 6 km is 13.1 %, beginning to stretch the
boundaries of what can be done – but, as if that wasn’t harsh enough, there’s
the Cueña les Cabres 3 km from the top with a gradient of 23.8 %.”