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Vuelta a España 2021: Stage 20 preview

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Profile stage 20 of 2021 Vuelta a España

Profile stage 20 of 2021 Vuelta a España (Image credit: Unipublic)
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Map stage 20 of 2021 Vuelta a España

Map stage 20 of 2021 Vuelta a España (Image credit: Unipublic)

Stage 20: Sanxenxo - Mos

Date: September 4, 2021 

Distance: 202.2km 

Stage timing: 11:47 - 17:30 CEST

Stage type: Mountain

Vuelta a España stage 20 preview video

Traditionally, the Vuelta’s penultimate stage features a big day in the mountains, but this one is significantly different, although perhaps not any easier than it might have been. It’s been billed as a "mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège”, with around 3,000 metres of vertical gain in its second half, which is based on Mos, the hometown of 2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro, who’s the Vuelta’s ambassador and has designed this stage.

During a logistical visit to Mos on behalf of the Vuelta organisers, Pereiro said he was “proud because it’s the first time I’ve designed a stage in its entirety and what’s more it’s in my home region, on the roads where I’ve ridden so many kilometres”. It is, he added in Galician, a stage that’s “rompe pernas” – leg-breaking – and one that’s perfect for ambushes.

From the start in Sanxenxo, the route undulates from the start. It reaches Mos with a third of the 202.2km covered, then runs south through flatter countryside for 30km or so to reach Tebra, where the real action should start. Five classified climbs lie ahead, the first of them of the third-category Alto de Vilachán. The route drops into Loureza and then rises again, on the second-category Alto de Mabia.

Next up is the first-category Alto de Mougás, averaging 6.4 per cent over 9.8km, but significantly tougher than that first number suggests in its opening half. Pereiro describes these roads as “narrow and frequently steep”, and the Mougás backs this up. Once over it, there’s some respite in the valley beyond before the second-category Alto de Prado, the Vuelta’s final bonus point.

The route rolls on to its final test, above Mos, the Alto Castro de Herville. Extending to 9.7km, its average is an apparently benign 4.8 per cent. But there are two kilometres just before midway that are close to 12 per cent, with a longish section at 16. A short descent follows, then an easy approach to the line, where there’s one final ramp to conquer in the last 300 metres.

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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