Ponferrada is a town in Northwestern Spain, an area frequently featured in the Vuelta in recent years. The River Sil flows through Ponferrada. It lies in the Bierzo valley and is surrounded by mountains. Hikers en bikers heading for Santiago de Compostella are familiar with the place, since it’s the last major town before they reach their main goal. Long before Christ the region was populated. Around 20 BC the Romans arrived here and their aim was obvious: gold, other metals and minerals. It didn’t take long before the area was the largest mining center the Romans ever exploited. A lot of the mines are still visible today. A very special one is Las Médulas, a World Heritage Site since 1997.
Let’s go cycling. The road race is a criterium of 18.2 kilometres in length. The first 4 kilometres are flat, after which the start of the climb to Alto de Montearenas has an average gradient of 8%. After a few hundred meters the ascent flattens and the remaining 5.1 kilometres are 3.5% on average. Next is a descent, the steepest part is after 11 kilometres – at this point the riders are going downhill with a 16% negative gradient. Alto de Compostilla is a short climb of 1.1 kilometre. The average gradient is 6.5 % and some of the steepest parts are 11%. The remaining distance of 4.5 kilometres is almost completely going down, after which the finish is perfect for a bunch sprint. Only question being: is trail with 14 times those nasty climbs perfect for a bunch sprint as well? Looks like a group of escapees will take their chances and are going to decide who will be the next World Champion.
Details of the route
Circuit length: 18, 2 km
Total distance: 254, 8 km
Maximum altitude: 709 m
Minimum altitude: 509 m
Total ascent: 4.284 m
Maximum positive gradient: 11%
Maximum negative gradient: -16%
World Championships 2014 Ponferrada – Road race: images and more
Click on the images to zoom.