The final climb is the Pico del Buitre, or the Vulture’s Peak. In fact, the scavengers – who feed on fresh meat and rotting carcasses – are likely to be circling the skies in search of riders who are left behind on the brutal ascent. It’s 10.9 kilometres at 8%, which is not for the fainthearted to begin with, but the irregularity turns the ascent to the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre into a beast. The last 5 kilometres go up at roughly 10%, and often much more than that.
The run-up is not flat either, so chances are that the breakaway will feature several strong climbers. And when they reach the base of the Pico del Buitre with a big enough lead, the stage winner will emerge from the break. On the other hand, GC teams could give it a shot also. After all, it wouldn’t hurt to put time into World Champion time trialing Remco Evenepoel ahead of the chrono race on the tenth day of action.
To circle back to the run-up. The race climbs from the start on an unclassifed hill of 4.4 kilometres at 5%. Two more ascents stand out in the first 85 kilometres – Puerto de Arenillas (5.8 kilometres at 4.7%) and Alto Fuente de Rubielos (6.1 kilometres at 6.2%) – before the route continues for 90 kilometres on rolling terrain to the base of the Vulture’s Peak. So, on paper, it should be doable to control the breakaway.
However the race pans out, the GC riders are sure to put pressure on one another in the steep finale. As a result, we will have a better idea of the form of the pre-race favourites when they cross the line near the Javalambre Observatory.
Sneakily, Romain Bardet lost 5 minutes in the sprint stage on the fifth day. So, he is probably up to something.
Favourites 6th stage 2023 Vuelta a España
*** Lennard Kämna, Sergio Higuita, Marc Soler, Romain Bardet, Einer Rubio
** Remco Evenepoel, Aleksandr Vlasov, Juan Ayuso, Primoz Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard
* Bauke Mollema, Geoffrey Bouchard, Max Poole, Vadim Pronskiy, Lennert Van Eetvelt
Another interesting read: route 6th stage 2023 Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2023 stage 6: profiles & finish route
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