Cycling's ultimate climbs: Alto de l'Angliru
The Angliru has a fearsome reputation that draws in cyclists from across the globe. Here’s everything you need to know about Spain’s famous climb
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Nothing inspires a mix of fear, motivation and inspiration in cyclists quite like an epic climb. They’re at the heart of the sport, retaining a mythical-like status on which some of cycling’s most historical moments have played out.
Some are so notorious that simply uttering their names is enough to catch a cyclist’s uninterrupted attention, wherever they are in the world - names like Alpe d’Huez, the Stelvio Pass and the Col du Tourmalet. While these are all epic and punishing ascents in their own right, even they can’t match the intimidating reputation of the Alto de l'Angliru, arguably the toughest climb used in professional cycling.
Read more: Cycling’s ultimate climbs: Col du Tourmalet
Since making its debut at the Vuelta a España in 1999, the Angliru has quickly built a fearsome reputation thanks to its relentless slopes which feature a 9.3% average gradient across its 13.2-kilometre length. There’s little respite over those kilometres and it takes every ounce of energy to toil to its peak, which tops out at a maximum 24% gradient.
Even pro riders, who usually fly up climbs at incomprehensibly quick speeds, aren’t immune from this fear and are susceptible to grinding to a halt. Its inclusion in the 2002 Vuelta a España sparked anger from David Millar, who raged that it was “inhuman”. In protest, the British rider pulled up 50 metres short of the finish line to quit the race. That never deterred the race organisers who have made it a regular fixture at the Spanish Grand Tour since, most recently in 2023 when Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard controversially dropped teammate Sepp Kuss.
Considering its infamous reputation, it’s no surprise that this Spanish behemoth has become a bucket list ride for everyday riders who make the pilgrimage to the north western Asturias region of Spain to not only take on one of cycling’s toughest challenges, but also to appreciate its stunning views.
Like any cycling holiday, visiting the Angliru takes careful planning and preparation. To help, GCN’s Conor Dunne has pulled together this in-depth guide, covering everything from logistics and equipment choices to, most importantly of all, the best coffee stops. Check out his full guide in the video at the top of this page.
Have you ever ridden the Angliru? Let us know how hard the climb was in the comments below.
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Tom is our Online Production Editor who creates tech content for the GCN website