The riders face a total of six ascents in Andorra. The first one looms straight after the start and it goes on like that for the rest of the race. Climb – downhill – valley – climb – downhill – valley – climb, et cetera. In order of appearance the Vuelta’s last mountain stage offers the following: Coll de la Comella (4.7 kilometer at 6.8%), Coll de Beixalis (9.7 kilometer at 6.7%), Coll de Ordino (11.2 kilometer at 6.5%), Coll de Beixalis again (this time 6.5 kilometres at 8.3%), Coll de Comella again (this time 4 kilometres at 4.9%), and the final haul up the Coll de La Gallina (7.7 kilometres at 7.8%).
It is impossible to predict in advance where the GC battle begins. Obviously, it would be great if the GC contenders would strike on the first climb and cause the battle to rage from start to finish. This scenario is likely only as an all-or-nothing strategy. Much like Chris Froome did when he won this year’s Giro d’Italia. Most riders will not want to risk their position, so an all-or-nothing attack is suitable for those who have only one goal – winning La Vuelta. It would make sense for Nairo Quintana to strike early on and put pressure on Simon Yates. Then again, Movistar tried it this way in stage 19 and it didn’t work out.
Another, and possibly more likely scenario, is for a breakaway to take shape on the first or second climb. Are they given too much leash, the best climber could go for the stage win. If not, the GC guys will provoke the last uphill fight on the Coll de La Gallina.
Favourites 20th stage 2018 Vuelta a España
*** Miguel Ángel López, Steven Kruijswijk, Thibaut Pinot, Enric Mas
** Nairo Quintana, Simon Yates, Wilco Kelderman, Alejandro Valverde
* Bauke Mollema, Ilnur Zakarin, Rafal Majka, Sergio Henao, Ben King
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 20: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Video final 5 K
3D bird’s eye route
Escaldes-Engordany en Coll de la Gallina op Google Maps