Lagos de Covadonga

Spain’s answer to Alpe d’Huez, Lagos de Covadonga is not long but devilishly steep and with two evil ramps at La Huesera and the Mirador de la Reina. The Lagos can also boast something with which the Alpe isn’t particularly blessed with: unspoilt natural beauty. With its two lakes beneath the summit, the Enol and the Ercina, and stunning views over the Picos de Europa.

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 Spain’s best and most cherished rider of the 1980s, Pedro Delgado, laying foundations to his 1985 Vuelta success here, and also winning again at the Lagos in 1992. The Colombian Lucho Herrera had also triumphed twice at the Lagos. And another brace of victories, from Laurent Jalabert in 1994 and 1996, confirmed the Frenchman’s remarkable metamorphosis from sprinter to 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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