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La Vuelta

Alto de L'Angliru

As Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador battle for supremacy at the Vuelta a España, we at Huez* were intrigued to dig a little deeper into the youngest of the Grand Tours.  First held in 1935 it has been held annually since 1955 and was inspired by the success of the Tour and Giro in France. Whilst the Vuelta has traditionally not had the publicity and following of the Tour and the Giro it has some of the most beautiful and striking scenery and some historical and ferocious climbs. Of these climbs perhaps the most fearsome and the one that strikes the fear into all cyclists is that of the Alto de L'Angliru. Whilst a similar length to some of the other great French and Italian climbs at 12.5km with an average of 10.13% it is the extreme gradients in it that strike fear into anyone over 40 kilos. At its steepest it is near 24%. Cars have been known to stall on it, for instance during the 2002 Vuelta during the rain many team cars stalled and were unable to restart due to the paint on the road causing their tires to spin on the extreme gradient. David Millar crashed on the way up 3 times that year and eventually threw in the towel in protest, his parting words were “"We’re not animals and this is inhuman.” Climbs like this make the Vuelta so interesting, and to watch the pro’s suffer and crack like the average weekend rider does on a climb like this is reassuring and brings a smile to my face. With great anticipation, we at Huez* wait for the drama to unfold, in every curve of the road and every turn of the crank, we feel your pain.

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