Lagos de Covadonga (Asturias)
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Lagos de Covadonga is a more challenging climb than it's statistics suggest. The average gradient may be less than 7%, but there are numerous sustained sections in excess of 10%. The most difficult of these is the dramatic La Huesera - a near straight slope in the middle of the climb with an average gradient of 14% over 700m.
The last two kilometres are the easiest part of the climb, with a couple of welcome downhill sections.
Roads & TrafficThe road surface is in generally good condition. There is a short section just before La Huesera where the tarmac is broken and slightly uneven - but it isn't really a problem either ascending or descending.
In the summer the climb can get very busy with traffic on the weekend and public holidays, mostly from hikers or people mere driving up for the outstanding views, so aim to climb it on a working day if you can. The exception to this is during the month of August when cars are banned from the climb - however, there are still buses, so take care on the descent.
Lagos de Covadonga is Spain's most cherished cycling climb. Angliru may be more infamous, but Lagos de Covadonga is the choice of the purists. It is long enough to launch a race winning attack, but not so long that all the action is left until the final couple of kilometres. It is steep enough that anyone having a bad day will lose big time, but not so steep that riders are merely looking to survive rather than attack.
The climb though is as much about the surrounding scenery as it is the road itself. Set in the Picos de Europa National Park, one of the most stunning natural sites in Europe, this is one of the most visually stunning climbs that you will ever ride. The coup de grace is the lakes at the top of Lagos de Covadonga - which give the climb their name.
If you only ever get the chance to do one climb in Spain - make sure that it is Lagos de Covadonga.
Although it is now the Vuelta's star turn, Lagos de Covadonga is a relative newcomer having been used for the first time in 1983. Since then it has made up for lost time, being featured in the majority of editions since then. Winners at Lagos have included Pedro Delgado, Robert Millar, Lucho Herrera and Laurent Jalabert. From a racing point of view the climb is highly thought of because of the action it provides. With inconsistent and steep gradients, it is not possible to just follow wheels and so it usually attacking riders and those with good tactics that prosper.
Nearby ClimbsJito de Escarandi
Mirador del Fito