The stage Manzanares El Real-Guadarrama would make an interesting time trial – 22.5 kilometres long and featuring one climb, Collado del Portazgo, which is a 10.8 kilometres long test at 3.4%. The summit is situated between the two small towns to the north of Madrid.
But no, it’s not a time trial on the penultimate stage of La Vuelta, the riders face a long and exhausting day in the saddle, as they continue further south after moving through Guadarrama early in the race. Several hilly loops lay waiting to be exploited.
The Puerto de la Cruz Verde is the opener and will also be the closer of the loops. It’s 7 kilometres long and averaging 5% during the first meeting. When the riders reach the summit, they simultaneously enter the first lap. And on they go, following the downhill and a section in the valley La Escondida is next. The 9 kilometres climb averages 4.1%.
Until now it was all category 3 climbs, but La Paradilla throws in some unclassified climbing metres – 2.3 kilometres at 5,4%, to be precise. It’s the prelude to the Alto de Santa María de la Alameda, a 5 kilometres long climb with an average gradient of 5.6%. The downhill is just 3 kilometres and then the Alto de Robledondo rounds out the lap with 5.1 kilometres of climbing at 4.8%.
The riders fly down to Robledo de Chavela to do the round over La Escondida, La Paradilla, Alto de Santa María de la Alameda and Alto de Robledondo all over again. The second time at the Alto de Robledondo is with 60.4 kilometres remaining.
Again, the riders descend to Robledo de Chavela, but instead of the right turn to La Escondida the routes goes left for an eastern lap. This one is shorter and it ends at the base of the second climb of the day, Puerto de la Cruz Verde, only it’s tackled from another side this time. This way it’s a 7.2 kilometres long drag at 3.9%.
The riders descend the Cruz Verde on the side of the first ascent. The route returns on familiar roads towards Guadarrama, but climbing is no quite over yet, as the hardest climb of the day is saved for last. It’s the Alto San Lorenzo de El Escorial, which is not only a 4.6 kilometres climb at 6.6%, it’s also a wildly irregular test with several sections at over 10%.
The summit is situated 12.2 kilometres before the finish line. The first 5 are on descent, the rest is as good as flat.
The first three riders on the line gain time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint – at the summit of the last climb – comes with 6, 4 and 2 seconds.
Ride the route yourself? Download GPX 20th stage 2023 Vuelta.
Another interesting read: results 20th stage 2023 Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2023 stage 20: routes, profiles, more
Click on the images to zoom