Stage 16: Gijón — Cotobello
What is it? Now with more mountains!
Got Climbs? Four categorized climbs, including an uphill jaunt to the line.
Red Jersey Battle: It's getting down to the wire for the climbers, with only one more mountain stage to go after this one. Anyone with ambitions to wear Red in Madrid will need to ride well here.
Ideal Rider: It's a great day to be a climber. There should be a good battle among Ezekiel Mosquera, Vincenzo Nibali, Xavier Tondo, and Joaquím Rodríguez, who have been the on-form climbers of the race so far.
@Gavia: Three mountain passes? I think I need a cupcake. Also: I think it would be really really fun if Laurens ten Dam got a result in Cotobello.
The stage sets off from Gijón and it's all flat and mellow. Good times and laughter all around. The first climb arrives at kilometer 40, but really, who is afraid of a category 3? The Alto de la Cabruñana is 6.6 kilometers at 4.7%. Got that? Because there'll be a test later. The first 70 kilometers of this stage are deceptively easy, and all the hard climbing stacks up at the end.
At Belmonte, the terrain begins to tilt upward toward the base of the first of the big climbs, Puerto de San Lorenzo. The San Lorenzo is 10 kilometers of climbing of the mostly steep persuasion. There are distressingly lengthy sections in the 11% range. That'll leave a mark. A long descent follows this first climb, and it's about 30 kilometers of racing to the next climb of the day. The Alto de la Cobertoria climbs steadily for 8 kilometers. A rather uniform looking climb, the Cobertoria rises steadily around 8%. The descent looks quick, and the riders will have about 20 kilometers of relatively flat racing to prepare for the final climb to the finish.
Last climb! The Alto de Cotobello climbs steadily for 10 kilometers. It's not one of the monster climbs, the Zoncolan or the Angliru. Indeed, the gradient hangs around at a friendly 8%. The riders will have to race this one, as the terrain will not create the separations for them. After this stage, only one day in the mountains remains and a 45 kilometer time trial looms menacingly. Any climber who wants to win this Vuelta will need to attack on the road to Cotobello.
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Mikel Neive Wins at Cotobello, while Joaquím Rodríguez retakes the race leads. Oh Nibbles! Read the full story.