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

The Sportive – Memorial Pedro Llorente

On Sunday 17th I took part in the First Edition of the Marcha Cicloturista Memorial Pedro Llorente. I usually ride for Nava2000 but on this occasion I rode with club Ciclos Teto – Peña Rocio Gamonal,  which I am also a member of. We were nine in total and Rocio also took part – although as she’s a World Champion and Spanish champion at MTB and Ciclocross, it will come as no surprise that I only saw her back, very briefly at the start.

Llanes start2

Llanes Rocio 2

 

 

 

 

 

There were just over 200 riders and the level of athlete was quite high (compared to me) so I knew I would have my work cut out to avoid the Broom wagon – Fortunately I managed to stay just ahead of it. The route was quite tough, covering 113kms and climbing around 2000m in total. This included many lumpy-bumpy bits plus the Vuelta climbs of La Torneria and El Torno.

Despite being quite a tough route I really enjoyed it and the atmosphere was great. We started and finished in Balmori, a quiet village not too far from Llanes. Fortunately the rain held off but the peaks of La Torneria and El Torno were blanked in thick fog so the best views were denied us. However, riding through the fog has its own attractions and at times it was very atmospheric.

Llanes Tornaria fog2

Llanes descent 1

 

 

 

 

4 hours 57 minutes after starting and after another 146 riders had already crossed the line I finally finished. Rocio won a trophy for 1st placed female rider and Ciclos Teto won a prize for the club with the most participants. It’s a shame they didn’t have a trophy for the best placed international rider as I think I was the only one, and it would and will always be the only way I will ever win anything.

 

It was a great day out and really good riding with the guys and gals from Ciclos Teto – Peña Rocio Gamonal.

For more information about the event visit their website here: http://www.memorialpedrollorente.es/

 

Here are a few pics the profile and the Route:

Pedro Llorente

Route:

https://www.strava.com/activities/306377853

Llanes cl1

Llanes mar

 

 

 

 

Group

Llanes Meta Torno

Balmori

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.

Alto la Torneria & ride summary

I’ve now added the climb of the Alto la Torneria to the climb section. It’s a climb often featured in the Vuelta a España and also featured in the Clasica Los Lagos de Covadonga. Here’s the link: http://wp.me/P2SWhh-nL

All things considered it hasn’t been a bad week back on the bike. I have ridden 250k up until today and the legs are feeling OK. I’ve climbed almost 3000m this week but haven’t pushed too hard and most of the climbs have been pretty easy ones.

I will probably ride again tomorrow but probably not with the club as I still need to take it easy. Next week the climbing training starts and I plan to do hill intervals and at the end of the week climb La Cobertoria, which is meant to be a bit of a brute and should be good preparation for my trip to the Pyrenees.

Route of the Alto del Torno and Los Lagos de Covadonga (108 kms)

Despite my friend Mark having a bad back and me still having leg problems, at 10:00am on 6th June we met up in Cangas de Onis to ride the Alto de Torno and Los Lagos de Covadonga. Also joining us was Geoff from San Francisco (who I met via my blog) who was visiting Asturias with his wife, so it was great he could ride with us.

I’d planned the route taking two main things into consideration; firstly the location was good for Geoff who was staying near-by and at the same time it wasn’t too far for Mark to get to. Secondly, it was good preparation for the Sportive Los Lagos de Covadonga that I would be riding the following weekend.

With a few well-chosen alterations by Mark – incorporating the final 50 kms of stage 15 of the 2014 Vuelta a España into the route  – we planned to climb the Alto del Torno and of course Los Lagos de Covadonga. A 108km route with 2500 metres of climbing.

Now I haven’t been riding well lately but on that particular Friday I knew I was in trouble from the very first turn of the pedal. I just had nothing in the legs and even the slightest rise in the road would see me struggling. Probably not the best sensation to have when you’re about to climb an HC mountain at the end of a ride. Still, I’m a believer in starting what you finish so I would try my best to get round.

My main concern wasn’t for me but rather that I would hold the other two up, which I certainly did. Geoff turned out to be a good cyclist and it was great to see Mark riding so well after his back problems, but it did mean they would set an impossible pace given my lack of form. Although I just said my main concern was about holding the guys up, which is true, I must admit by the time I started climbing Los Lagos, my concerns had become somewhat more selfish.

It proved to be a great route, with a great combination of very challenging climbs, really fun descents, great coastal flat sections and some stunning scenery. The weather was perfect. It was hot but bearable and for the most part sunny. Although there was a one minute rain shower atop Los Lagos which only proved to be somewhat of a relief from the sun.

tornogeoffLagos 5

The weather up Del Torno was perfect and the scenery spectacular. It’s a nice climb with a nice flat section in the middle before getting pretty tough to the top. The descent is also quite tough as there are three small climbs on the way down which will sap any energy you may have left after climbing el Torno.

Torno summit

After these three small climbs it’s all easy riding to Covadonga and the start of Los Lagos climb. After filling up the water bottles at a road side spring, I said my goodbye’s at the bottom, knowing that I would be dropped within a few pedal strokes. My legs felt terrible when I started the ride but now after 75kms of riding, they felt totally wasted. As I started the climb I began thinking of the best point to stop and turn round and wondered if Mark would check his phone if I sent him a message. I also wondered how often the buses went to the top as I could go back down and catch one of them. With all this thinking, I kind of forgot my legs and suddenly realised I had passed the Huesera, which is the toughest part of the climb (1km long and 15% all the way). It kind of seemed pointless turning round now so I just kept turning the pedals as slowly as I could. Over 1 hour and 30 minutes from the start, I reached the second lake of Los Lagos.

Mark had taken it easy due to his bad back and did great to get up there. Geoff did great, he had found the climb really tough and had suffered at several points on the way up but dug in and still made it ahead of me. It was a great feeling having made it to the top and seeing the other guys, and after a well deserved drink it was nice to head down hill for the ride back to the van.

Lagos 4

All in all a great route, a great ride and great company. I would certainly recommend it to anyone but it is a toughy. I have also  learnt a couple of things from the ride; men with bad backs can still ride damn fast; no matter how bad my legs feel, it seems I can still get up most things and finally I’ve learnt how Nibali felt always seeing the back of an American, because Geoff was quick.

Route Map and Stats: http://www.strava.com/activities/150194367

Los Lagos Stats: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/lagos-de-covadonga

Alto del Torno Stats: http://bikeasturias.wordpress.com/climbs/alto-del-torno-from-nueva

P.S. I completed the Sportive the Clasica Los Lagos the following week. I didn’t exactly fly round but I felt much better than I did on this ride…… Post and Video of the sportive to follow shortly.

The climbs of the Vuelta a España 2014 in Asturias

Having climbed L’Angliru and El Naranco in 2013, it’s all change for 2014 as the tour heads for the legendary Lagos de Covadonga and the lesser known La Farrapona. In total there are 7 significant climbs in the two stages (15 and 16) set in Asturias. The climbs are as follows :

Puerto del Torno – Stage 15, probably the easiest of the climbs and a warm up for Los Lagos 20km further up the road.

Los Lagos de Covadonga – Stage 15, A summit finish that will be significant in deciding the GC.

Alto de Colladiella – On the route map it’s not that clear which climb it is but I believe it to be Colladiella

Alto de Cordal

Alto de Cobertoria

Puerto de San Lorenzo

La Farrapona – Summit finish that like Los Lagos will help shape the final GC standings. Having already ridden up the previous 3 climbs which in themselves are pretty tough, this stage is bound to take it’s toll on some of the riders.

Details of all the climbs including profiles can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted names. El Cordal to be added soon

galeria68465-016 galeria68465-017

 

La Camperona in the Vuelta a España

According to the leaked route of the 2014 Vuelta a España, this year La Camperona will feature as one of the hill-top finishes. However, this is NOT the La Camperona in Asturias (which is not much of a climb) as various articles I have read suggest. I think it is the one in Leon. If so, here is a link to information about the climb: http://www.altimetrias.net/aspbk/verPerfilusu.asp?id=1228