Stage 16: Salamanca - Ciudad Rodrigo
Stage 16: Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo
Date: November 6, 2020
Stage start: 1 pm CEST
Stage finish: 5-5:30 pm
Stage type: Hilly
This is another revamped stage, the start originally scheduled to take place in the Portuguese town of Viseu, but now set to begin in the beautiful university city of Salamanca. The riders will start to the south-west, through open terrain where the wind can often be a factor. The prevailing direction is from the west. If it’s blowing, the opening third of this stage could be extremely challenging.
The main climbing is packed into the day’s second half of the162 kilometres. The first test in the remote Sierra de Francia is the Puerto El Portillo, 13.8km long at 4.4 per cent gradient. The route drops away from this pass to Las Mestas in the valley beyond, then starts to rise again towards the first-category Puerto El Robledo. This is a little shorter at 11.7km, and, on the face of it, a good deal easier at a far-from-frightening 3.8 per cent rise.
But this figure conceals its severity, it yields most of the altitude gained with a 2km descent that leads to the foot of a kilometre-long “wall” at close to 11 per cent. Anyone slightly off their GC-contending form at this point could well cede significant ground on the easier kilometres to the summit, and then be forced into a helter-skelter chase over the 35 remaining kilometres into the finish at Ciudad Rodrigo, site of a famous victory by the Duke of Wellington over the French in 1812 during the Napoleonic Wars.
This is the Vuelta’s third finish in this historic town, Jan Ullrich winning here on his way to overall victory in 1999, and Alexandre Vinokourov emulating his then-teammate a year later.
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