The route is straightforward. There are four climbs and they are evenly distributed over the course. First the Alto de Ortiguero, then a double ascent of the Collada Llomena and the final haul up to the lakes to round things out.
The Alto de Ortiguero is perfect to stretch the legs. With 5.3 kilometres at 4.7%, it’s the easiest uphill test of the day.
The Collada Llomena is something else entirely. The riders tackle the climb on the hardest side, which means it’s a 7.6 kilometres toil with an average gradient of 9.3%. The toughest section – 2 kilometres at over 11% – lies at the heart of the ascent.
A 23 kilometres descent – only the section from 1.5 kilometres to 5 kilometres from the top is steep – and a false flat of almost 10 kilometres before the riders are back where they were 42 kilometres ago. At the base of the Collada Llomena via the hardest side.
The second ascent is exactly the same as the first one. The riders reach the summit with 56 kilometres remaining. Most of it goes downhill and after approximately 10 kilometres of false flat the finish climb kicks in.
The scenery is spectacular and the same goes for the climb. The 12.5 kilometres ascent to the lakes comes with average gradient of 6.9%, which is really just a nugatory statistic. The first 7 kilometres rise at approximately 10% before the profile changes and short drops start playing leapfrog with 20% ramps.
The Lagos de Covadonga are at the end of the road, there is only one side to ascend to the lakes. Since the climb mades its first appearance on La Vuelta in 1983 a string of renowned riders have won here, including Marino Lejarreta, Pedro Delgado, Laurent Jalabert, Luis Herrera and Nairo Quintana. Three years ago Thibaut Pinot climbed to victory on the beautiful slopes.
The first three riders on the line gain time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds. Furthermore, 3, 2 and 1 seconds are available at the second ascent of the Collada Llomena.
Another interesting read: results 17th stage 2021 Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2021 stage 17: route, profiles, more
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