La Camperona was a relatively unknown climb before its inclusion in the Vuelta a España a couple of years ago and it’s clear to see why. Firstly, it’s in the middle of nowhere and secondly, the road doesn’t even show up on Google maps. That’s because it was little more than a track before improvements were made for the Vuelta.
The Vuelta organisers often go in search of new climbs, many of which are little more than cattle tracks. Probably the best example of this in Asturias is the now notorious L’Angliru. Last year we saw the introduction of the beautiful, but extremely tough Ermita de Alba, which like La Camerona, had extensive road works carried out to accommodate the Vuelta.
In 2016, La Camperona will be the stage prior to the Vuelta entering Asturias. The stage itself isn’t the most exciting, as the riders will begin in Villapando in Zamora and it’s pretty flat all the way to La Camperona (although if a cross wind gets up, it could be interesting). However, the end of the stage should be a humdinger.
The first 7kms of the climb are nothing out of the ordinary but the last 3kms are enough to push any rider to their limit. The maximum grade is 26.5% and kilometer 7 averages 17% only dropping to 16% at kilometer 8.
Unlike the tree-lined climbs of Asturias, which offer welcome protection from the summer sun, La Camperona is far more open. In addition, the climb is in Leon, which is often much hotter than Asturias, so if you do plan on climbing it in the summer be prepared for a hot slog to the top.
The official climb starts as you turn off the N-621 onto the CL-626 in the direction of Sabero. You continue along this road which slowly rises, but never reaches more than 3% until you arrive at Olleros de Sabero, where it starts to ramp up to 7% with the odd little 10% ramp. Just before you reach Kilometer 7 you will arrive at Sotillos. At Sotillos you turn right and this is where it really starts to get tough.
With 3 km to go, the first kilometer averages almost 13% with ramps of up to 20% and it just gets worse. As previously mentioned the averages enter into the high teens with ramps over 20%. The final kilometer does ease off slightly toward the end, but is still well in to double figures.
How to get there:
All roads lead to Rome but not many lead to La Camperona. If staying in Asturias the best way to reach it (by car) is via Cangas de Onis, up the Porton and then down to Riano, across the bridge and down the N-625. If staying near Oviedo it’s probably quicker up La Tarna and then down to Riano. From Leon you need to take the CL-624 north. See map below.
The good thing about La Camperona’s inclusion in La Vuelta is that the roads will be well maintained and improved where necessary in early 2016. This is just as well for, despite improvements in previous years, the road surface still isn’t great in some places. Apart from being extremely narrow the surface has a gravely finish rather than a smooth asphalt finish and although certainly ridable, it’s not ideal. That said, I have found photos of a new asphalt road, although I’m not sure whether the whole road surface has been improved.
Here are the stats and profile of the climb:
Strava segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/8028094
Average Gradient: 6.7%
Max Gradient: 26% (very short ramp)
Max Altitude: 1597m
Altitude Gain: 655m
Difficulty: Extreme (last 3km)