A lot of senior Europeans spend the winters in Benidorm, yet the seaside resort boasts cycling history also. Not that long ago, in 2011, the Vuelta started here with a 13.5 kilometres team time trial that was won by Fabian Cancellara’s squad Leopard Trek, 4 seconds ahead of Liquigas Cannondale featuring the likes of Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali.
When leaving Benidorm the Col de Rates lays waiting, a 2nd category climb at 13 kilometres. With an average grade of 6% the first 6 kilometres are steepest.
Following the drop, which is a lot steeper that the climb, the peloton heads for Alto de Ebo. The 2nd category ascent is tackled from the east, accounting for a 8 kilometres climb at 5.6% with steepest sections at 8.5%.
A short descent takes the riders to the foot of Alto de Tollos, a 2nd category climb at 4.1 kilometres. While the average gradient is 5.8% the harshest slopes at 14% are saved for last. Just before cresting the Tollos offers puncher’s material that would be brilliant for a stage finish. Not today though, as there are 110 kilometres left to race.
Following a 25 kilometres drop and an uncategorized climb (plus drop) the riders are in Benilloba. This means the Puerto de Tudons, one of the most popular climbs of the Costa Blanca, is not far away and that’s exactly where the pack is heading. In 2010 the climb was featured for the last time in the Vuelta a Espana. At 7.3 kilometres, it is a 2nd category climb with an average grade at 5.2% while the steepest slope is 7.5%.
That is, those statistics account for the first climb up the Puerto de Tudons. After the drop the 1,020 metres peak is to be crested again, yet this time from another side. Furthermore, the Vuelta-organisation brings something extra to the table. Via a road on a militairy site the climb goes on all the way to the top of Alto de Aitana, located at an elevation of 1,545 metres. This way the final climb of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana totals 21.2 kilometres at an average gradient of 5.9%.
Stage 8 in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana saw Damiano Cunego climb to victory at Alto de Aitana.
At the finish wait 10, 6 and 4 seconds for the first three riders, and 3, 2 and 1 seconds can be gained at the intermediate sprint after 121 kilometres.
Results /race report 20th stage, 2016 Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2016 Stage 20: Route maps, height profiles, etc
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