Straight from the start it’s climb-time and that will be the story of the day. Every 30 to 40 kilometres a new peak is reached. Those intervals are getting smaller as the finale is approaching. The last 35 kilometres has three mountains on offer – 2nd category, 1st category to finish at hors category.
The first four climbs will fancy the adventurous types in the pack, but as of the Alto de Cordal the GC men will move to the fore. The climbs follow one after the other and at the top of the Cordal there are only 35 kilometres to go.
Alto de la Cobertoria is crested with 19 kilometres left. Last year, both climbs were in stage 16 in the same order and out of these two the Cobertoria is the real killer. The climb is 10 kilometres at 8.9% and in the section from 4 to 7 kilometres the gradient doesn’t get under 10%.
But the worst is yet to come. After a 12 kilometres descent the slog up to the Ermita del Alba lays waiting. During 6.8 kilometres the road goes by a 11 grade, but that’s not all. The steepest part – 21.67%! – is after 4 kilometres, while the kilometres to come offer average grades of 13%, 8% and almost 10% and they come with steepest sectors of 15.6% and 14.75%.
Let’s hope there’s not only absolution to be received in the chapel at the top, but that there are also oxygen devices.
Results/race report stage 16, Vuelta 2015.
Vuelta 2015 stage 16: Route maps, height profile, and more
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Details Alto de la Cobertoria
Details Alto Ermita de Alba
Final kilometres 16th stage