Only twice before La Camperona served as a summit finish in the Vuelta a España, yet its reputation is that of a classic Grand Tour mountain climb. The ascent lies in the centre of León, about 100 kilometres from the wild coast of the Bay of Biscaye.
In 2014, Ryder Hesjedal climbed to victory at La Camperona. Two years ago Sergey Lagutin was the strongest rider of the early break, while Nairo Quintana took the red jersey that day.
Shortly after the start La Vuelta moves through Gijon and at kilometre 10 the riders tackle the first uphill stretches. A perfect place to initiate the breakaway. At kilometre 39 a similar climb is crested. Following the descent a sheer endless false flat runs to the foot of the Puerto de Tarna, which is a 16.8 kilometres climb at 4.9%. The second half is averaging around 6%, so the first half is a lot easier.
The Tarna is crested with almost 70 kilometres remaining. The riders fly down the mountain before the distance to the foot of the closing climb is as good as flat.
La Camperona amounts to 8.8 kilometres and the average gradient is 6.5%. It starts out quietly, yet in the village Olleros de Sabero the first ramps of horror appear. In this part of the ascent the riders face the steepest stretch of 25%, although that’s an exception in this section. Yet, two more kilometres up the mountain, in Sotillos de Sabero, the party really gets going when the riders turn right. The first kilometre rises at 10% and in the last 2.1 kilometres the route kicks it up a notch with an average gradient of 15%. The section from 2.1 kilometres to 800 metres before the line is 17% and then it ‘flattens out’. That is, the ultimate 800 metres on the mountain of horror are averaging 10%.
Let’s be fair, that’s a Wall – the Wall of Camperona. Power management will be the key to success. In 2014 Alejandro Valverde jumped too early as he was eager to take the red jersey and lost time to his opponents.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint (at kilometre 166.5) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 13: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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