Stage 16: Luarca - Ermita del Alba. Quirós
Today’s seven categorised climbs may not be as high as the half dozen tackled in Andorra but their severity, particularly the new finishing ascent of the Ermita de Alba, will make it just as tough.
Climbs such as the Cordal and Cobertoria are usually preludes to the Angliru. While it’s always slightly disappointing when the Vuelta skips that legendary test, the Ermita de Alba is a worthy alternative, for those watching at least. The first half of the 6.6km ascent averages 10 per cent. Above the hamlet of Salcedo, it ramps up to twice that before a series of precipitous hairpins and walls, including one at 30 per cent.
The second, and after this much-needed, rest day follows.
Javier Guillén (race director):
"Everyone is talking about the Andorra stage but I’d describe this one as the etapa reina – the ‘queen’ stage – because it comes in the third week of the race when the riders’ legs will be feeling the pace after having negotiated that Andorra test. Although it’s not long, the Ermita de Alba is very tough."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.
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