Lagos de Covadonga


Spain’s alternative to Alpe d’Huez, Lagos de Covadonga, is not very long but is challengingly steep and with two demanding ramps at point La Huesera and point Mirador de la Reina. The Lagos can also brag about something that the Alpe d’Huez doesn’t have: unspoiled, untouched natural beauty. The peak can boast with two pristine lakes just under the summit called the Enol and the Ercina, as well as breath-taking views over the Picos de Europa, a glorious mountain chain. 
When first used in 1983 the Vuelta a España also made its debut on live Spanish television. The beauty of Lagos de Covadonga would get the exposure it deserved, and a legendary Spanish climb was born.
 
Since then it has been a signature part of the Vuelta a España and to this day welcomes cyclists from all over the world looking to take in some of that beauty and also challenge themselves on the Alpe of Spain.

The Climb in Detail



“Spanish Cycling had acquired a new graveyard of champions" - Mountain High

The Ascents

The one ascent to the summit of Lagos de Covadonga starts in the village of Soto de Canges. Although only peaking at 1135 metres in elevation you will still be gaining nearly 1000 metres in the space of 19-kilometres (although the real climb begins 5km from Cangas). Around the middle of the climb you will find the hardest percentage gradient at La Huesera, 12-kilometres into the climb reaching a maximum gradient of 15%.

 

The Holy Cave of Covadonga

The Santa Cueva de Covadonga, the Holy Cave of Covadonga is hidden in the rocks above the church near the foot of the climb. The name Covadonga is derived from the Latin cova dominica – literally cave of the lady, in this case the Virgin of Covadonga, around whom assorted myths involving a hermit, a swarm of bees and local villains continue to be told.

It’s place at the Vuelta a España

World number one Bernard Hinault took the inaugural race up to the top of the Lagos in 1983. Wrongly named the Lagos de Enol before the race after the summit finish journalists also ladled it the Lagos de Hinault. Historic moments have since been a regular occurrence at Lagos de Covadonga, with likely Spain’s best and most highly valued rider in the 1980s, Pedro Delgado, who had laid out the foundations for the success in Vuelta in 1985 here, and also winning latter in 1992 at the Lagos. Furthermore, Lucho Herrera, a Colombian cyclist, was also victorious at the Lagos. Finally, the last spurt of victories was by the French Laurent Jalabert in 1994 and 1996 which confirmed his incredible transformation starting from a sprinter to a climber. 
The foot of the climb was also where legendary Miguel Indurain climbed off his bike competitively for the last time.

"Spains answer to Alpe d'Huez" - Mountain High

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