It’s the last of the summit finishes for this year’s Vuelta and the race organisers have gone for ‘crazy-ass steep’ as opposed to ‘gentle ride to the top’.
Monday 7th September: Stage 16 – Luarca to Ermita de Alba. Quirós, 185km, high mountain
As with the ‘epic’ stage 11, we have climbing from the get-go and throughout the entire stage until the HC finish. Let’s just hope it’s more exciting than stage 11 turned out to be. The riders tackle two cat 3s, and two cat 2s before the 140km mark – those four climbs are fairly well spaced out and there are some plateaus to catch back up if riders get dropped. So, again, it’s all about the ending. The riders have to tackle the cat 2 Alto del Cordal, the cat 1 Alto de la Cobertoria and the final HC climb of Alto Ermita de Alba in quick succession, so the final 35km or so are going to be hellish.
The riders have to tackle 5km of double-digit gradients in the midst of the penultimate climb of the Alto de la Cobertoria. This could be a good place to attack and get a gap to take them down the descent and hit the final suuuuuper steep climb before the rest of the pack.
This is the final big summit finish of this year’s Vuelta and it’s downright frightening. There is hardly a moment when the gradient isn’t double-digit and there are rumours of a small section at 30%! How does a person ride something like that? There are some nasty hairpins in there as well, so we might be missing the Angliru this year but this climb will more than make up for it.
I’m predicting an audacious solo victory from a non-GC contender and, looking at the rest of the stages to come, if Tom Dumoulin doesn’t limit his losses before Wednesday’s TT, the final podium could be decided today.
Link: Official race website
Header image: Ermita de Alba