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Vuelta a España 2020: Stage 12 preview

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Stage 12 profile 2020 Vuelta a Espana

Stage 12 profile (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Stage 12 map 2020 Vuelta a Espana

Stage 12 map (Image credit: Unipublic)

Stage 12: La Pola Llaviana/Pola de Laviana to Alto de l'Angliru

Date: November 1, 2020

Distance: 109.4km

Stage start: 2:08 pm CEST

Stage finish: 5:05-5:30 pm

Stage type: Mountain

Back on the race route for the first time since 2017, when Alberto Contador claimed an emotional victory on what was the last summit finish of his career, the Alto de l’Angliru is sure to separate the definite contenders for the red jersey from the pretenders, who have been able to hang on this far.

The statistics suggest this is an easier day than the one before, with a mere 3,100 metres of vertical gain. However, at 109.4km long, the stage is a short one and is likely to be raced flat-out from the start, which is located in Pola de Laviana.

The opening 25km are flat or even slightly downhill, which should make the contest to get into the day’s break particularly intense and fast. Then comes the first of consecutive third-category hills, the Alto de Padrún. The riders will fly down its western side into Murias and begin the slightly longer, at six kilometres, ascent of the Alto de Santo Emiliano.

After a short drop into Sama de Langreo, the riders will quickly find themselves climbing again, this time on the first of consecutive category 1 climbs, the Alto de la Mozqueta. At 6.6km, it’s long, but its opening third is brutally steep, averaging 12 per cent. The only significant section of valley riding follows, leading onto the Alto de Cordal, the traditional stepping stone to the Angliru. Indeed, it’s an Angliru in miniature, short at 5.4km, but far from sweet.

It begins with half a kilometre at 14 per cent, and above that are several other long sections that are almost as abrupt. The steep and technical descent can be very treacherous too, particularly in the wet. The riders will fly down it into Riosa and straight onto the first ramps of the Angliru.

The first five kilometres aren’t too frightening, one short “wall” at 22 per cent apart. However, following a very brief descent, the final half-dozen kilometres are terrifyingly steep. Rising unrelentingly up open mountainside, and often into swirling clouds, the gradient stays well into double figures almost to the summit. The most brutal section arrives 2km below the crest at La Huesera, the bone yard, a 500-metre stretch where the gradient briefly touches 24 per cent. An easier kilometre – just 10 per cent – reaches the climb’s high point, from which there’s a short drop into the finish.

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