Climbing into the known

EF Education-Easypost riders can now see the steepness of the road ahead at a glance thanks to Wahoo’s new Summit climbing feature

September 4, 2022

At this year’s Vuelta, our riders are climbing into the known.

Iconic cols like the Alto de l’Angliru and Lagos de Covadonga have been left off the race course. Instead, the organisers have gone to the most remote reaches of Spain to find the country’s steepest, hardest climbs. Many of them have no honour roll of previous winners. Some of them have never been climbed in a race. They were narrow, twisty dirt tracks that wound through the mountains and have now been paved just for the Vuelta. Much of the route of this year’s Tour of Spain is unfamiliar terrain for the whole peloton, but our riders always know at a glance what’s ahead, thanks to their Wahoo ELEMNT BOLTs.

Wahoo has recently added gradient colouring to routes with its Summit climbing feature. A quick look down at your Wahoo will show you the elevation profile of the course ahead, just like before, but the pitch of every ten metres of road is now coded green, yellow, orange, red, or brown. Green is for 0-3.9% slopes. Yellow is for 4-7.9% slopes. Orange is 8-11.9%. Red is 12-19.9%. And brown is for anything over 20%. At that point, it might be every rider for themselves , but knowing what’s coming up helps our riders measure their efforts and anticipate attacks.

“The new graph helps very much,” says EF Education-EasyPost climber Merhawi Kudus. “You can see the gradients coming up very well and always know how far you are above sea level. The colour gives you the information very quickly. See red, and you know it is going to be very steep.”

The Queen Stage of this year’s Vuelta comes this Sunday, on stage 15. The race-book provides basic information. The stage is 152.6 kilometres long with three categorised cols en route and over 4,000 metres of total climbing. First up is the third category Puerto del Castillo, 6.8-km at 4.5%. Then, there’s the Alto del Purche, a 9.1-km first category climb that rises to 1,490 metres. The finale of the race will come on the Alto Hoya de la Mora, Monachil, a breathtaking 19.3-km ascent which reaches its zenith at 2,512 metres. Although it has been used in the Vuelta once before, even the riders who were there don’t remember much. They were hypoxic, racing with all they’d got into the hot, thinning air.

On the road, race radios help. Our sports directors do their best to let our riders know what they can expect from the coming kilometres through their earpieces, but on a mountain stage, the peloton will often break into many groups and the riders will be left alone. Even when they are racing flat out, they can count on their Wahoos to give them the information they need quickly and easily. Their Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT head units know the course in more detail than they could ever remember when their hearts are hammering out of their chests.

“Today, we’ve got a lot of red and brown and orange. It’s going to be on fire."

- Merhawi Kudus

That’s especially important on a climb like the Alto Hoya de la Mora. The bottom kilometres are all orange, red, and brown, with sustained pitches over 20%. Hit those too hard, and you can easily blow up. The climb becomes less steep as it rises, but you will struggle to recover on those yellow and orange slopes, due to the altitude. The key to going fast up the Alto Hoya de la Mora is pacing it right.

“Today, we’ve got a lot of red and brown and orange,” Merhawi says. “It’s going to be on fire, but we’re going to fight for it.”

Wahoo’s Summit feature will be very useful during the lead up to the final climb too. There is hardly a metre of flat on the Vuelta’s mountainous course. For every col with KOM points at the top, there are dozens of climbs that have not been classed. A quick look down at their Wahoos will tell our riders what they can expect. It’s like having the information from an extra detailed recon right in front of them. At this year’s Vuelta, EF Education-Easypost is climbing into the known

Share this story

More from La Vuelta ciclista a España