Vuelta 2021 Favourites stage 14: Fight for the red jersey
image: Cor VosThe 14th stage at La Vuelta comes down to the 14.5 kilometres finish climb to the Pico Villuercas. The average gradient sits at 6.2%, the steepest section at 15% appears just inside the last kilometre.
Obviously, the 15% ramp is a perfect place to strike for a rider with enough juice in the legs and solo to victory in the last few hundred metres.
The route of stage 14 is energy sapping, although the first hour of racing points in another direction. But after the flat opening the riders enter a prolonged false flat that contineus into a mountainous middle section. The Puerto Berzocana is a climb of 7.7 kilometres at 5.2% with no ensuing decent. Instead, after a few flat kilometres the riders hit the Alto Collado de Ballesteros, which is a Wall on top of a mountain: 2.8 kilometres at 14%.
Would make a perfect spot for a stage finish, but no. The riders fly down into Guadalupe for a lumpy lap of almost 50 kilometres around the small town with the big Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Shortly after returning in Guadalupe the route goes up where it came down awhile ago.
So the riders climb back up to the Collado de Ballesteros, only to continue climbing at the top this time. The last 2.5 kilometres lead to the abandoned miltary base at the Pico Villuercas. This way the finish climb adds up to 14.5 kilometres, while the average gradient sits at 6.2%. The second half of the climb is the steepest part.
If the attackers are given a long enough leash, and if there are good climbers on board, it could be that the stage winner is part of the breakaway. But since the finish climb is so long and the route so hard, a more likely scenario is that the strongest GC riders go head to head on the Pico Villuercas.
Favourites 14th stage 2021 Vuelta a España
*** Primoz Roglic, Adam Yates, Enric Mas
** Romain Bardet, Miguel Ángel López, Aleksandr Vlasov
* Rafal Majka, Giulio Ciccone, Sepp Kuss, Kenny Elissonde
Another interesting read: route 14th stage of the 2021 Vuelta.
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