At an area of 468 square kilometres, the Pyrenean mountain state of Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, still the Vuelta-organisation managed to cram in a complete stage. The ride between capitol Andorra la Vella and Cortals d’Encamp is ‘only’ 138 kilometres and what makes it really extraordinary are the 5,200 height-metres that are to be climbed.
Obviously, straight from the start is goes uphill and after 13 kilometres of climbing Collada de Beixalis is crested. The ascent is 1st category, just like the next two obstacles, Ordino and La Rabassa. We are the high mountains of the Pyrenees as all these summits peak at an elevation of between 1,800 metres and 2,000 metres.
On the Coll de la Rabassa the riders are halfway, and actually it’s only here the race really begins. With 90 kilometres done the riders are at the base of the Collada de la Gallina. In both 2012 and 2013 the mountain was in the Vuelta also, but on neither of these occasions the climb was to the highest point. At an elevation of 1,550 metres, the Gallina was the finish of stages 8 (win Alejandro Valverde) and 14 (win Daniele Ratto). It was a 10 kilometres slog with 15% and 20% sections, but this time the riders have to go higher on the mountain until it is crested at 1,910 metres after sections of 18%. Moreover, the Gallina is nasty and irregular, making it justly the first especial-category climb in the Vuelta of 2015.
After the descent the 2nd category ‘snack’ Alto de Comella is an appetizer for the closing climb. Alto Els Cortals d’Encam, at an elevation of 2,100 metres, is a 1st category ascent – 15 kilometres at 6.8%. The steepest kilometre of 11.4% is exactly halfway.
Results/race report stage 11, Vuelta 2015.
Vuelta 2015 stage 11: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom
Details Collada de Beixalis
Details Coll de Ordino
Details Coll de Rabassa
Details Collada de la Gallina
Details Cortals d’Encamp
Final kilometres 11th stage
Start and finish at Google Maps