By Bjorn Haake in Suances
The Angliru, with pitches of up to 23.5%, will present a formidable obstacle for the riders in Saturday's epic stage 13 of the Vuelta a España, and it will require some unusual measures on their behalf if they hope to ascend to the finish without walking. Several riders have admitted that they will use fairly extreme gearing to conquer the shocking grades. Tea saucer-sized inner chainrings in the front, just 34 teeth around, with pie-plate sized rear cogs with 28 or 29 teeth seem to be the popular gears.
It is an unusual choice for professionals, who prefer a 39 or 42 as their smallest chain ring, and rarely exceed 23 teeth in the rear cog. David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) and Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) all said they would be riding the tiny gears.
There was one rider who chose differently: Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), who lost the overall battle in the rain yesterday. He will put on a 36x29, trying to outfox his under-geared rivals. Saturday will show who has made the better choice.