La Vuelta a España in Asturias 2015 – Sotres and the Ermita de Alba

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.

Stahe 15 Vuelta 2015

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.

Stage 16 Vuelta 2015

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 

Vuelta 2015

Hotel Las Caldas Villa Termal – Dream Cycling accommodation in Asturias

Back in August I had the pleasure and the privilege to ride with Carlos Barredo following an invitation from my friend Pepe who runs www.roadcycleasturias.com. I met them at The Hotel Las Caldas Villa Termal where Carlos will be carrying out Training Camps next year. Whilst there, I had the pleasure of meeting Fernando, the Director of the Hotel and he kindly invited me back to take a tour of the hotel and its facilities.

Two weeks later I returned to visit the hotel and after chatting with Fernando for a while I was taken on a personal tour of hotel and spa by the lovely Marina, the hotels coordinator.

Trio bajo puenteTrio entrada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m not easily impressed but Wow! In itself the hotel is amazing but the facilities it has for cyclists are really quite mind blowing. It was easy to see why some of the Top teams stay there when they are in Asturias for the Vuelta a Eapaña .

I was first taken to the medical/physical analysis centre to look at the facilities they provide. The facilities are state of the art and geared specifically toward the sportsman/woman. In the centre they have the means to test every aspect of your physiology and condition including  an assortment of machines to test your  heart, lungs, posture, positioning on the bike and anything else you could think of.

Yo biometricoCarlos esfuerzo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highly trained staff are on hand to test every aspect of your physiology, offering professional advice on how to improve your performance.

Biomecánica_postural_4Biomecánica_postural_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then went to take a look at the Gym. I was expecting a smallish room with a few machines but it turned out to be probably one of the biggest and best equipped gyms in Asturias and even has a balcony for exercise.

_DSK6521-Edit_DSK6504-Edit

 

 

 

 

Centro_Deportivo_4Prueba_Esfuerzo_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marina then proceeded to show me the spa, pool and bath/sauna facilities. Unlike most people, I’m personally not a great lover of spas. However, following our tour I seriously wanted to stay there. The spa and other water facilities are truly impressive. The domed pool is truly unique and pools also lead to the heated outside pool without having to get out of the water.

morilla@marcosmorilla.com telf.: 985892735Aquaxana_piscina_activa_exterior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the cyclist they have everything you need. There are special cold water pools for after a ride next to the sauna or heated ones if you prefer. There is even a special room with a sculpted heated marble tiled bench where you can sit to heat the muscles. Indeed, every possible aspect of your fitness, recovery and comfort has been catered for; from Turkish baths to steam rooms.

Aquaxana_sauna_2Centro_Termal_El_Manantial_Piscina_Superior_2

 

Following our visit to the spa Marina took me to see the bike storage, workshop and cleaning bay facilities. Once again the facilities were top class, providing everything you could possible need. If that wasn’t enough the hotel will also rent you bikes and a gps device if you haven’t got one, with 28 road routes and 28 mtb routes. Alternatively you can just download them to your own gps device.

 

 

_DSK6433-Edit_DSK6424-Edit

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are two parts to the hotel. The newer 4 star part of the hotel is where most of the bike facilities and medical testing facilities are located and where most of the above photos are taken. The older, original 5 star part of the hotel is on the other side of the road, accessible via a lovely corridor (see first photo). Marina kindly showed me around the quite stunning 5 star facilities and spa before we headed back to reception.

The visit was great, far beyond what I expected and I was really taken aback at just how good the facilities are. I doubt you will find a hotel anywhere in Europe which could provide such a complete Bike friendly environment and it would be hard to find a hotel/spa as impressive as Las Caldas. It is located just outside of the capital Oviedo but is situated in a beautiful valley, surrounded by countryside. It’s a perfect location as there are hundreds of cycling routes which start from the door of the hotel. It’s not very far from the L’Angliru either if you are really feeling adventurous and Los Lagos de Covadonga is not too far away.

Cicloturismo_4Aquaxana_piscina_activa_interior

 

One of the best things about the hotel is that it caters for all the family, so you can go out on a ride and there are plenty of things for rest of the family to do while your out.

So of course all this must cost an arm and a leg right? well no! It’s actually very affordable.I know you would end up paying twice as much in the UK, if not more for a hotel of this quality and with a spa and pools etc. Better still, if you are up to it you can take part in a Cycling Training Camp run by Carlos Barredo (for details see www.roadcycleasturias.com) which are based at and run from the hotel. Taking part in a training camp and staying at Las Caldas really would be a cycling dream holiday but an affordable one at that.

For prices go to: http://www.lascaldasvillatermal.com and for prices for training camps and cycling holidays visit http://www.roadcycleasturias.com

To read testimonials from cyclists who have stayed at Las Caldas visit: http://www.roadcycleasturias.com/testimonials

Note: BikeAsturias is a non profit making site and I don’t get paid any commission from hotels or any other business which appears on my site. If I publish something about a hotel, house to rent, etc it’s because I believe it’s a great place for a cyclist to stay and wish to make my readers aware of it.

The Vuelta a España 2014 in Asturias

Well it’s almost time for the Vuelta 2014 and once again there will be a couple of great stages here in Asturias.

It doesn’t seem like a year ago that I watched Eddie Bosenhagen in a break away not far from where I live and had Valverde throw his water bottle at my feet.

This year there are two great stages, ones that will certainly decide who are the main GC contenders. Indeed, the final winner could well be decided on these stages. The stages in Asturias are stages 15 and 16 but first a brief look at Stage 14 which is in Cantabria/Leon.

Stage 14

I rode part of this stage just the other week, which included the 26km long climb of the San Glorio. Although tough (for me at least) I don’t think that this climb will split the peleton too much as the gradients never really reach more than 8%, although the sprinters could well start dropping back. The first 10km are pretty easy but the last 16km could well see a breakaway as the climb begins to ramp up.

 

It’s pretty much all downhill from here until the foot of the Camperona (in Leon). I don’t know this climb but it looks pretty tough with some serious ramps and could well be where we start to see who the GC contenders are going to be. Here’s some info about the climb: http://www.altimetrias.net/aspbk/verPerfilusu.asp?id=1228

Stage 15

We now come to Asturias and stage 15 should be a great stage. I rode the last 40km or so in a recent ride I did with friends and I certainly suffered. The professionals however, probably won’t start to suffer until the climb of Los Lagos de Covadonga. The only significant climb before Los Lagos is the Alta de Torno. This is a beautiful climb, offering great scenery. It is split in two as there is a flattish section in the middle before it begins to ramp up again until the summit. The descent is quite an interesting one as there are two tough little climbs on the way down so we may well see a break away on this section. Here is some info on the climb: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/alto-del-torno-from-nueva

Torno summit

Torno summit

We then come to the famous Los Lagos de Covadonga (http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/lagos-de-covadonga). I have climbed it twice this year, once with friends as mentioned above (http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/route-of-the-alto-del-torno-and-los-lagos-de-covadonga-108-kms (with Video)) and again in the Clasica Los Lagos de Covadonga http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/clasica-los-lagos-de-covadonga-2014 . With stretches of 15% this climb will certainly start to see the GC contenders pull ahead. It is a beautiful climb but one that the sprinters dread. Indeed, Mark Cavandish was referring to the Lagos de Covadonga when he wrote that Asturias is for mountain goats not cyclists.

DSCN0943

Summit of Los Lagos

Los Lagos is tough virtually all the way but toward the very end there are a couple of downhill stretches so any attack will likely come before this. Attacks could well come on the stretch called the Huesera, about half way up, which is 0.9km long and 15% all the way.

Although tough, stage 15 is easy in comparison to the following days stage, which must be the Queens stage. Stage 16 is brutal almost from the very off.

Stage 16

After just 10km the riders will start climbing the Alto de Colladona. I have ridden virtually all the climbs in this area except this one, but if it’s like the others it will be a nice climb, although looking at the profile not too difficult. After passing nearby the L’Angliru (ridden last year but to the relief of many a rider not included this year) comes the El Cordal. This climb isn’t too tough. I rode it from the other, tougher side some months back and it offers stunning views: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/el-cordal-from-pola-de-lena-mi

Looking Back El Cordal

Looking Back El Cordal

Now it really starts to get hard. The next climb is the Cobertoria http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/alto-de-la-cobertoria-desde-pola-de-lena-mi . It’s one of the hardest 10km I have ever ridden (granted I did it with a head wind). This climb is pretty unforgiving until the last km. It’s often in double figures with significant ramps of 14%. Although categorised as only a Cat 1 climb I think this climb will blow the peleton apart.

Things don’t get much better at the bottom either as the next climb is the San Lorenzo. I haven’t ridden it but went up it as a support vehicle for a friend of mine Mark, who climbed it in horrendous conditions. The climb is long and steep all the way (from both sides) and the grupetto will really be suffering on this climb.

So we come to the last climb, the Farrapona http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/la-farrapona-por-somiedo-sa . After the Cobertoria and San Lorenzo this climb will seem like a summer vacation for most of the riders. Although 18km long, it’s only the last 6 or 7km’s that are punishing. There are a few steep ramps on the way but nothing that will bother the riders. When I climbed it we were prevented from reaching the top because of the weather conditions (see video in above link) but it certainly gets tough, so should be a great finish at the top and could well decide the overall winner.

Road to Farrapona

Road to Farrapona

So that’s it! I hope to get to ride up the climbs to watch it myself but I’m sure the wife will have something to say about that. If you fancy watching it I’m sure it will be great from the top of most of the tougher climbs. If you need somewhere to stay check out the Bike Barn (http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/accommodation/the-bike-barn) which is still available for booking at the time of the Vuelta and offers great access to the routes.