This stage linking the home cities of two of Spain's Tour de France winners, Carlos Sastre and Federico Bahamontes, won't suit the climbers hoping to emulate this illustrious pair by capturing a Grand Tour victory. Instead, it offers what is almost certainly a final chance of success to those teams who don't have a GC contender or an in-form sprinter to bag a stage win before the Vuelta finishes in Madrid in two days' time.
Beginning in the spectacular walled city of Ávila, where Sastre set up home having been brought up in nearby El Barraco, it heads south initially, crossing the only classified climb, the third-category Alto de la Paramera. Passing through El Barraco on the descent, the route drops down onto the huge plateau south of Madrid, the altitude barely changing as it heads through El Tiemblo and San Martín de Valdeiglesias.
Beyond Cenicientos, the route steps down again for the second half of the stage, remaining at an altitude of around 500 metres all the way into the finish in Toledo. Often by this point in the Vuelta, one sprinter will be dominating – last year it was Elia Viviani, the year before that Matteo Trentin – and the outcome of the stage will depend on how well disposed that rider and his team are to chasing the break. With no significant hurdles to negotiate and straight, wide roads all the way to the outskirts of Toledo, the pursuers should have an advantage over their quarry if they choose to commit.
Coming into the beautiful city of Toledo, things get more complicated as the route snakes around constantly, and particularly in the final two kilometres as it tracks the River Tagus and climbs into the old city, where there is a kilometre of cobbled road that twists and turns as it runs up to the finish.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
Latest on Cyclingnews
Blunk and Lange take titles at Chequamegon MTB on fifth stop of Life Time Grand PrixOff-road series leaders Haley Smith and Keegan Swenson each finish in top five of Wisconsin event with one race to go
Alison Jackson returns to EF Education-TIBCO-SVB in 2023Canadian takes on leadership role with a focus on the Spring Classics
Did Québec winner Cosnefroy finally decide to ride the World Championships?Former U23 World Champion reportedly travelling to Australia after initially opting out of French team
Analysing the Netherlands' men's and women's 2022 Road World Championships teamsDutch hopes rest with Van der Poel and a strong women's squad led by Van Vleuten