Stage 16: Laredo - Santa Cruz de Bezana
Date: August 31, 2021
Stage timing: 13:00 - 17:30 CEST
Stage type: Flat
Vuelta a España stage 16 preview video
You can’t fail to be impressed with the planning that’s gone into stage 16 of the Vuelta a España - a 180-kilometre stage in the rugged northern region of Cantabria that features just one categorised climb and only rises above 100 metres in altitude a handful of times all day. Race director Fernando Escartín has set this up for a bunch finish, and any sprinters that are left in the field will be determined to take advantage, as it’s the last opportunity they’ll get in this race, which concludes with a time trial rather than the traditional road stage on a fast circuit in central Madrid.
After a transfer north on the rest day, this stage gets underway in eastern Cantabria at Laredo, tracking the Atlantic coast to begin with. At Noja, the route jags south through Beranga to Riaño, then turns again, this time to the west, skirting the Cabárceno Natural Park, where the Peña Cabarga climb that’s hosted four finishes in recent seasons is located.
The only ascent today, though, is the third-category Alto de Hijas, which arrives just beyond half-distance. After this little test, the route continues on its long loop to the south of Santander. At Villanueva de la Peña, in the western part of the region, the riders will turn north and east, heading towards Santander, although not going quite the whole way. They’ll pass through the intermediate sprint at Santillana del Mar and speed on to the finish at Santa Cruz de Bezana, just to the west of Santander, where the final two kilometres are pan flat.
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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).
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