Alto de Angliru

The Alto del Angliru was introduced by the organisers of Spain’s three-week grand tour, the Vuelta a España, with the aim of establishing an inconic climb to match the likes of Alpe d’Huez and Ventoux in the Tour de France or the Mortirolo in the Giro d’Italia.  First used in Spain's national grand tour in 1999, even by the standards of professional bicycle racing the Angliru is seen as a brutal climb and its inclusion in Vuelta routes has often provoked strong reactions from both riders and team managers.

Along with its increasing allure from its inclusion in the Vuelta, something that is rarely emphasised, but ought to be, is the Angliru’s smouldering, emerald beauty. While the former Swiss pro Tony Rominger rather cryptically said that: “climbing the Angliru is like looking out of the window of a plane”, the Spanish Tour de France star Samuel Sanchez could gaze out of another window, that of his house in Oviedo, and see the dark green saddle of the Angliru itself. Sanchez described it in 2011 as “the perfect climb.”

“It’s extremely beautiful,” Sanchez said. “I think that the view that the fans get up there is very good, and it also stands out because it’s very green. There’s lots of woodland up there, a lot of trees. I think it’s perfect. I’ve not ridden up the Zoncolan and the Mortirolo, but I can assure you that even though the Angliru might not be the toughest climb in the world, it is certainly one of them.”


The Climb in Detail

“What's the point of riding up a mountain that I'd be quicker to go up by foot?” - Marzio Bruseghin


The Ascents

The Alto del Angliru can be climbed from La Vega (Riosa), the route has a daunting average gradient of 10 % and you will ascend 1266 metres to the summit at 1573 metres over just 12.5-kilometres. The section known as Cueña les Cabres, which is two-and-a-half kilometres from the finish, and has ramps nudging 24 per cent has been described as one of the hardest sections of climbing in Europe.


The Blind Visionary 

In 1996, Prieto was the communications director of the Spanish charity for the blind, ONCE, which also happened to sponsor one of the best, if not the best, professional cycling team on the planet. That year Prieto, himself partially sighted but always on the look-out for new summits to spike his passion for the mountains, headed up the Angliru armed with his altimeter and a magnifying glass. When he reached the top, Prieto couldn’t enjoy the vistas of the Atlantic, the Alto de Naranco or Oviedo, but he did glimpse the future of Spain’s national tour, the Vuelta a España. Writing a report, he sent to the organisers of the Vuelta, it wasn’t long before the Vuelta’s mystery mountain was included in the presentation for the 1999 Vuelta in Madrid, since then it has been a staple for the 3rd cycling grand tour.

It’s place at the Vuelta a España

The long-awaited introduction of the Angliru to Spain’s grand tour was made in 1999 with the madcap Spanish climber José Maria Jiménez taking the win. It has since then created a spectacle that has split opinion, with the difficulty of the conditions plus the section known as Cueña les Cabres, which is two-and-a-half kilometres from the finish, and has ramps nudging 24 per cent some have said that the climb is too hard for a grand tour. It has though since its introduction become a staple mountain finish at the Vuelta a España and will surely delight fans, if not riders for years to come.

"What do they want? Blood? They ask us to stay clean and avoid doping and then they make the riders tackle this kind of barbarity!" - Kelme Team Manager 1999 

GCN race up the Angrilu

Take on this iconic climb, click or search below

Oviedo (OVD,SDR,VLL)
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