The Queen Stage of the 2015 Vuelta a España, 185km with seven marked climbs and a new and vicious summit finish.
- ALTO DE ARISTÉBANO, Km 14.6, 14.6 km at 3.4%
- ALTO DE PIEDRATECHA, Km 43.1, 10.6 km at 4.8%
- ALTO DE CABRUÑANA, Km 85.6, 4.8 km at 6.7%
- ALTO DEL TENEBREDO, Km 119.9, 3.7 km at 8.9%
- ALTO DEL CORDAL, Km 150, 8.5 km at 5.7%
- ALTO DE LA COBERTORIA, Km 166.5, 9.8 km at 8.7%
A lot of climbing but as you can see the hard slopes come later. However it all adds up to another stage with over 5,000 vertical metres.
The Finish: 6.8km at 11.1%. Look at the chart above and you’ll see the jagged edge to the profile. This is not a drawing mistake but illustrates the way this climb rises like a staircase with a steep rampón then a flatter moment before pitching up again. The steepest part is midway in the village of Salcedo with a 20% slope. It starts with a wide road but closer to the top it’s a rough road, surfaced but just and a very difficult road for anyone suffering the slightest weakness.
Queen Stage: yes, this offers as much elevation as Stage 11 in Andorra but it’s longer and ends with the Ermita de Alba, the high point of the 2015 Vuelta and the Cima Ferandez prize.
The Contenders: another good day for a big breakaway and the chance to score a lot of points for the mountains jersey, especially with the uphill start where some will jump away while others worry about tasting breakfast again. With this in mind and the hard nature of the stage it’ll suit strongmen like Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), already a stage winner and also the last to be left behind by Mikel Landa on the final climb in Andorra. Otherwise Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) is climbing well and could repeat again. Once you start to see who is in form and aggressive in the second half of a grand tour you start to see them again and again.
The same repeat pattern for the overall candidates. But yesterday Fabio Aru said the steep slopes suited Joaquim Rodriguez so today’s tricky finish looks like it’ll suit the Katusha captain too especially as Dani Moreno is there to offer support. Otherwise we look to Nairo Quintana and Rafał Majka which order will they finish in? Both look strong and perhaps Quintana is getting better and better after his virus?
|Nairo Quintana, Dani Moreno, Rafał Majka
|Oliveira, de Marchi, Landa, Chaves, Nieve, Valverde, Dombrowski,
Weather: sunshine and clouds and a top temperature of 21°C in the valleys and cooler at altitude.
TV: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm Euro time but tune in early to watch the climbs and descents which come in quick succession in the final hour. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.
Daily Díaz: One last stage in Asturias, time to say goodbye to Samuel Sánchez’s homeland. Three notes on the region. First, if you like architecture, you can’t miss the Asturian pre-Romanesque buildings (8th10th century): San Miguel de Lilloand Santa María del Naranco, near Oviedo, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Second, the Princess of Asturias Awards (sort of Nobel ala española) have a sports category. Regarding cycling, the winners have been Miguel Indurain (1992, first Giro-Tour double), Lance Armstrong (2000, no comment), and the Tour de France (2003, 100th anniversary). Third, one of the worst events in recent Spanish history happened in Asturias: the miners’ strike of 1934, a revolutionary uprising against the entry of a rightwing party into the government, which was crushed by the army (led by Francisco Franco and consisting of the Spanish Legion and the Moroccan colonial troops). Franco’s association with the Muslim North African population is shocking in a dictator who had a very close relationship with the Catholic Church.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel