After 13 years of documenting climbs to whet the appetites of all sorts of cyclists, Simon Warren has turned his attention to Spain. 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Spain follows a well-proven format in a country where the climbs just don't receive as much coverage as others in Europe.
The latest addition to Warren's on-going series is logical, timely, and familiar – and a bit later than expected, thanks to Covid restrictions.
> Buy now: 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Spain for £14.95 from 100 Climbs
It's logical because he's already covered climbs in the two other countries that host Grand Tours, France and Italy – so Spain is the logical next step.
The French book was restricted to Tour de France climbs, which was a bit of a limitation, whereas the Italian book went beyond the Giro d'Italia, opening it up to some more interesting content. This Spanish book is similarly free-ranging, but still has considerable overlap with La Vuelta a Espaňa routes.
Unfortunately, leaving it to last confirms the general perception that the Vuelta is the lowest priority of 'the big three' for most people. Fellow author Tim Moore did the same, for example. But at least he got round to it, unlike the Rapha 'series', which has stalled on Italy.
Warren was certainly excited by the unexpected gems that he found, but will his enthusiasm be enough to tempt more of us to go beyond the usual countries?
With this being the 15th title in the series, Warren has stayed true to his successful formula. This means the format is familiar and predictable – even if the roads themselves are not. As always, there is a full-colour image facing a climb profile, some limited mapping, and a few key statistics – all supported by the author's description of his own attempt on the climb (in which he continues to find new ways of describing how hard it was for him).
That all feeds into a subjective score out of 10. As Warren notes in his introduction (which you can read here), he needed to dig a bit deeper to find new superlatives for this book, because he 'usually singled out one climb that stands above all others and rewarded it with a Spinal Tap-esque 11/10, but in this book there are THREE!' (I won't give them away...)
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The timing is good because only a few weeks after publication Spain will be the main focus of cycle racing with the most serious Vuelta-associated race yet for women, La Vuelta Femenina, where they will be tackling some proper mountains several months before the much-hyped ascents of the Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmalet feature in le Tour de France Femmes.
The French ascents may have received the most attention, but people will be looking to the Spanish roads before then for the best (or possibly only) indication of who is on form. The challenges in question are the sole 1st category climb of La VF, Puerto de Navafria (scoring a 4/10) and the only 'beyond categorisation' ascent, Lagos de Covadonga (an 8/10).
In the absence of much other printed coverage, Warren relied on the excellent Dangerous Roads and Cycling Cols websites for much of his research, but it was Cycle Fiesta that provided the best local intelligence. Most informative, and now in my bookmarks.
As you would expect from a book about Spanish climbs, the Pyrenees are the single biggest contributor to the book. This means some overlap with Peter Cossins' more detailed work, although only the Spanish side is covered by Warren.
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Spain includes more than just the mainland, of course, with the Canary and Balearic Islands also involved. I suspect that, like me, much of his potential audience have ridden on Majorcan roads (from the latter archipelago) more than anywhere else in Spain, so it makes sense to give them disproportionate attention. Reminding us that there is more to Majorca than Sa Calobra (6/10) is a good thing, but I would struggle to justify all 16 entries. With three of them scoring only a one or a two, perhaps Warren agrees.
If Spain follows the same pattern as previous books, you should be able to download an associated app soon. Arguably an even more convenient format, and always cheaper, these apps provide broadly the same information but in a different way. Some might even prefer them.
Now that Warren has covered the main centres of European cycling, for both racing and training, what's next? If he manages to encourage cyclists to experience the less-frequented roads of Spain, perhaps he could have a crack at Austria or Switzerland, where there are plenty of worthwhile (but lesser-known) climbs.
Despite a change of publisher, the compact format of this book seems identical to previous publications. What has changed is the price, which in recent years has gone from £9.99, to £12.99, and now £14.95. That's still under 15p per climb though!
The official launch of the book is 6th April, but copies are already available direct from the 100 Climbs site, as linked above.
At last Spain benefits from the 100 Climbs format, providing yet more temptation...
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Make and model: 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Spain by Simon Warren
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From the publisher:
Having documented the famous cycling climbs of France and Italy, Simon Warren completes his trilogy on cycling's Grand Tour nations with the100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Spain.
Packed full of the legendary roads on the Spanish mainland which have found fame in the Vuelta a España, such as the Angliru, Puerto de Velefique, Lagos de Covadonga and the mighty Pico Veleta, the featured climbs travel the length and breadth of the country – from the Pyrenees, across the Basque Country to Asturias, around Madrid and down through Cataluña to Andalucía.
The book also travels out to sea to cover Mallorca and the Canary Islands. These perennially favoured destinations for cyclists searching for year-round sun are home to some extraordinary climbs, from Sa Calobra on Mallorca, to Teide on Tenerife, and the incomparable Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma.
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Title: 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Spain
Author: Simon Warren
Publisher: Vertebrate Publishing
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
By now we know what to expect from this series, and it delivers as promised.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Spanish climbs just don't receive as much coverage as others in Europe, so this helps to address the imbalance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Not surprisingly, it is the match of any of Simon Warren's previous works, justifying a comparable score; it has the added advantage of covering less well-documented territory, making it one of the more useful reference works in the series.
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Tomorrow night in the village hall. Bring cake.
Also drivers drive at a speed that feels right. Signs do bubbler all, it's all in road layout, width, furniture etc. signs are cheap however...
yeah, because what kind of a mother would risk a driving licence infraction whilst her child's life is at stake? Truly terrifying....
That would certainly be a good idea. It seems pretty crazy that we're saying we are committed to change yet still baking in motor vehicle...
Also, if you look on Michelin's website, they do not recommend using their 25s or 28s on 21mm internal rims (pretty common nowadays). I assume for...
pay up, whingers ...
Speedrockers for me and my pals on 42's
This is another of those "difference between Britain and America" things, isn't it?
I reckon they swerved to avoid the hi-viz cones