In the penultimate stage the riders face 2 cols in category 3, 1 in category 2 and 1 in category 1, after which the finish line is drawn atop of a col in the highest category.
The race opens with a hill of 640 altimeters. Fair enough. The summit is reached after 17 kilometers and then it’s around 70 kilometers before the first categorized top is crested. This one is 955 altimeters and is called Alto do Vilaesteva. It is in category 2 – the whole climb is 6,4 kilometres in length, the average gradient is 5.4%.
After a descent of 10 kilometers the riders are at the base of Alto de O Lago. The climb in category 3 is 8.4 kilometers in length and the summit is located at 1.000 altimeters. In the downhill a vicious little climb is clogged.
At 129 kilometers the riders reach Navia de Suarma, a hamlet in the valley. Taking their time to stretch their legs is not one of their privileges, if any, because the ascent to Alto Folgueiras de Aigas starts in just in a few kilometres. It’s a col in category 1, blessed with an average gradient of 6.7%. The riders crest Alto Folgueiras de Aigas after 9.7 kilometers – or so it seems, since the short descent upon cresting is a feint and an uphill encore awaits the riders.
At last they speed downhill, heading for the very last climb in the 2014 Vuelta. As might be expected this is not your average Sunday ride. The whole climb is 12,7 kilometres and the closing 5 kilometres go up by an average grade of almost 12% – peaking to 17%! Puerto de Ancares is a familiar old friend. In the 2012 Vuelta Joaquim Rodríguez won the stage after a thrilling final, beating Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Daniel Moreno and Chris Froome.
The stage starts at 12:31 and the finish is expected around 17:40.
Vuelta 2014 stage 20: Images and more
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Route and profile Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas
Climb details Alto de Folgueiras de Aigas
Climb details Puerto de Ancares