With 20 kilometres done the route crosses the Alto de Santo Emiliano after a 6.9 kilometres climb at 4.2%. Following the descent the riders continue on a string of non-classified hills to the Mirador del Fito. This viewpoint is crested two times – first at kilometre 100.1 and again at kilometre 137.6. It is an irregular ascent with the last 4.4 kilometres averaging a whooping 9.3%. Mirador del Fito offers a wide view over both the Picos de Europa and the coastline of the Cantabrian Sea.
The second passage of the Mirador del Fito is with almost 41 kilometres remaining. The first 10 kilometres are on descent before a nasty unclassified climb appears. For 4.7 kilometres the route climbs to San Martín de Bada. The average slope is 4.3%, so it comes across as tolerable – yet, the climb is pepped up with ramps much harder than that. As if to prepare the riders for what’s in store…
A 5 kilometres drop leads to 10 kilometres on the flat before the riders tackle the final haul up to the line. Lagos de Covadonga did serve twenty times as a summit finish in the Vuelta a España. If you think of the first inclusion, in 1983, it’s clear that the ascent to the lakes has become one of the Spanish Grand Tour’s favourite climbs.
And rightly so. The scenery is spectacular and the same goes for the climb. The distance is 12.2 kilometres and the average gradient 7.2% – nothing special, one could argue. Yet, it is an average. Some 4 kilometres up the mountain the riders face a 800 metres stretch at 15% and along the way double digit sectors alternate with small drops. The last kilometre, for instance, starts on descent before the route ramps up to 7.5% in the last 200 metres.
There is only one side to ascend Lagos de Covadonga. Since the climb debuted in 1983 a string of renowned riders have won here, including Marino Lejaretta, Pedro Delgado, Laurent Jalabert and Luis Herrera. Two years ago Nairo Quintana climbed to victory on the beautiful slopes.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint (at kilometre 156.3) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 15: Route map, height profile, and more
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Details Mirador del Fito (1)
Details Mirador del Fito (2)
Details Lagos de Covadonga
Profile final kilometres
Video final 5 K
3D bird’s eye route
Scheduled times 15th stage
Ribera de Arriba and Lagos de Covadonga at Google Maps