Race Design Thread

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While I'm usually much against the concept in a regular road stage and find it gimmicky, with that descent, it would make a pretty sweet double-ascent, actually. If the loop is deemed too short (I don't think it is), you could do the loop the Vuelta did. BTW, I don't think the descent is narrow, it's just steep and open (and with some rough edges).
 
Vuelta a España stage 6: Valencia - Alto del Campello (188 km)



Stage 6 of my Vuelta starts in Valencia, Spain's 3rd biggest city, and capital of the Provincia de Valencia. in terms of cycling this part of spain is probably mostly known for it's preperation race the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, which is the first relevant stage race in Europe of the season.


The first 60 kilometers of the stage are completely flat with an intermediate sprint in Alzira as the only highlight. The first real obstacle of the day is the 3rd category Alto de la Drova. After another flat section the riders face two passes directly after each other. First the hardest climb of the day, the Monte Safor, which is a 1st category climb and might therefore motivate some riders who hunt the mountain jersey to get into the break of the day. Especially the first half of this ascent is quite steep with long ramps of over 10%.
The Monte Safor is actually a very spectacular mountain a bit in the west of pass I use, but since I didn't find any name for my climb I just named it after this famous sight.


Directly after the descent the a lot flatter climb to Beniarres starts. If these two climbs came near the end of the stage they could have quite a big impact but since Beniarres tops out with over 60 kilometers to go the big showdown will start a bit later on the last two climbs of the day. Firstly the Alto de El Portillol, a relatively gentle but 8 kilometers long pass. Since the stage finishes with an uphill finish I wouldn't expect attacks out of the peloton at this point, but in the battle for the stage in the breakaway the first moves could happen here. On the descent the riders already come quite close to the finish but instead of going directly to the finish line they make a loop, use a different descent and then after a short flat section start the last climb of the day.

This last climb is a typical Vuelta murito. It's extremely irregular but still has an average gradient of around 12% for over 2, almost 3 kilometers. But that's only the average gradient, there are many ramps of over 15% and even one 21% ramp quite early on the climb. Despite its short length the time gaps on these kind of mountain top finishes can be pretty big so you gc riders should better try to be well positioned before the climb starts while guys like Purito (if he was still riding) would have to use the steep ramps to gain a lot of time on guys like Nibali who usually struggles on extremely high gradients on short climbs.
The stage doesn't finish on the highest point of the climb. There is a very short but steep descent followed by another very, very short flat section after which the stage finishes. That said, this isn't Xorret de Catí where you have a proper descent after the top of the climb. Whoever goes over the top of the murito first will most likely win the stage. Logistically this finish could be a bit complicated since the stage finishes shortly before a crossroad, so there is no real parking place. That said this has already been used as a finish for cycling races before and the Vuelta has shown a talent for making finishes at places where it should actually be impossible to finish.
The first 5 km of this profile show how the final looks like (a bit less than 5 km actually)


Contador tribute:
If you make a Contador tribute Vuelta that can easily be understood as a listing of great performances by Contador in the Vuelta. That would be the easiest thing to do but it would also be kinda boring since I would have to make a lot of stages like yesterday where I pay tribute to a stage where he only attacked but didn't win. I therefore decided to reduce the Vuelta tributes as well as possible and instead include a lot of climbs which should remind people of great performances by Contador in smaller races.
Beside the Vuelta there are a lot of small stage races taking place in spain, one of them the already mentioned Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Contador wasn't very successful in this small preperation race mostly because he used the Volta ao Algarve or the Ruta del Sol as his first race of the season in most years. He therefore never won the gc in Valencia but he won one single stage, which finished at the same place as my stage, on the Alto del Campello.
In 2007 Contador, back then only known as a huge talent but without any success in gt's so far due to a number of reasons, lost a lot of time in the first three stages of the race, but when the peloton tackled the brutal finishing climb on stage 4 he wanted to test his legs and pedaled away from everyone. And those guys were no amateurs. In the top 10 of the stage you'll find names like Valverde, Brajkovic, Frank Schleck, Luis Leon Sanchez and Samu Sanchez.
Here is a video of the final kilometers of that stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rptiI-d5g8&t=695s
 
I don't know, if this nordic series shouldn't be its own thread. It is race design, but i think the concept is different enough to be its own separate entity. Germany (& Austria) are very easy targets as these countries don't really have any prominent tours (or they're doing a rather lousy job *ekhm* Österreich-Rundfahrt *ekhm*).

Last stage: link

EDIT: Somewhat i missed to post stage 12, so i'm adding it here.

Coca is not the most fortunate name ever – coke, cocaine, kaka. However, Castillo de Coca is one of the most beautiful of Spanish castles and it deserves a stage.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181721
Vuelta a España – stage 12. Castillo de Cuéllar – Castillo de Coca, 39,2km, ITT, flat.



This time trial takes place in the flat region of Tierra de Pinares, just south of Valladolid. This region has an abundance of castles and historic towns. The original draft of this stage went from the capital of the region – Medina del Campo. Because now i'm approaching Coca from east, i've moved the start to Cuéllar – home to another castle.

This time trial is a typical oldschool Spanish test – 40km, flat, straight and open roads without any technial parts. Lately the trend had changed towards more hilly and more technical courses. It starts in the town of Cuéllar. The town was founded in XII c. In the middle ages it was a textile center. In 1256 Alfonso X elevated the town to a royal city. The town started declining in XVII c. after the government of Castilla moved to Madrid. From Cuéllar are Diego Velázquez – 1st governor of Cuba and Juan de Grijalva – one of the first conquistadors to land in Mexico.


Cuéllar seen from the city walls.


Strasbourg in Castilla.

The start is in the castle's courtyard on Calle Palacio. The stage then goes through one of the castle's gates and then via Carretera Valladolid towards Íscar. Between Cuéllar and Íscar are a couple of villages – Torregutiérrez, San Cristóbal de Cuéllar, Vallelado and Mata de Cuéllar.


Castillo de Cuéllar seen from the start.

Íscar is a town on the border of Segovia and Valladolid provinces. It's home to a small hilltop castle from XII c. However, this hill was populated since prehistoric. Other sigts include romanesque Iglesia de Santa María from XII c. and also romanesque Iglesia de San Miguel from late XI c.


Castillo de Íscar.

From Íscar the race goes straight to Coca through the villages of Villaverde de Íscar and Fuente el Olmo de Íscar. The roads are wide and mostly straight, occasionally covered with pine trees.

Coca started as a quite powerful town around 500 BC. Later it was a minor Roman town of Cauca, which was home to plenty of villas. Interestingly, Roman emperor Theodosius I was born here. In the middle ages Coca seemed to be a rather unsignificant village. I'm not sure, why the Archbishop of Seville – Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa in XVI c. decided that this village will be home to his castle – possibly one of the most lavish in entire Spain. Later it was the seat of the Fonseca family.

This castle is very large, mudéjar style and has sort of 3 tiers. I don't hink it's bigger than the Teutonic castle of Malbork, but that one is more of a fortified complex than a "real" castle. Other sights include the remains of XIII c. city walls with Puerta de la Villa, XII c. Torre de San Nicolás – the only remaining part of the old location of Ermita de San Nicolás, destroyed in XVIII c.


Castillo de Coca.


Puerta de la Villa, Coca.


Torre de San Nicolás, Coca.

Coca is located on the bank of Río Eresma, which is in a shallow valley. The last roughly 1,3km are slightly uphill with the hardest part at the bottom with the first 500m at 6-7%. I could be sneaky and include some of the narrow street roads, which are on quite ugly cobbles, but i decided to be a bit milder and only roughly 100m near Puerta de la Villa, 300m from the finish line are cobbled. The finish line is in front of the castle. I wanted it to be a classic test against the clock. Next is the only sprint stage of this week.

A transitional stage towards the more mountainous regions of northern Spain.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/181708
Vuelta a España – stage 13. Valladolid – León, 187km, Flat.



I wanted to have at least one sprint stage this week and i also wanted to move closer towards the more mountainous regions. This stage was actually created as a result of the next stage, which was sort of my version of a banter on a particular climb, but it changes since then. Because of this, i'm actually unsure of the next stage as i don't really have good options if i want to (and i do want to) leave the Sunday stage intact.

Both hosting cities – Valladolid and León are more than just well known, and their history is rich enough to fill whole encyclopedias. Both were once capitals of the kingdom of Castille during the middle ages, before the government moved to Madrid. The stage goes through the open, straight roads of Tierra de Campos – one of the main argicultural regions of Spain.


A perfect representation of Tierra de Campos.

Valladolid has more than plenty of sights to offer. Below is a small sample of them:


Valladolid.


Plaza Mayor and city hall, Valladolid.


Academia de Caballería, Valladolid.


XIII c. Iglesia de San Pablo, Valladolid.

The finish in León is borrowed from Vuelta a Castilla y León. It's on Avenida del Ingeniero Sáenz de Miera in front of Estadio Reino de León, on the west bank of Río Bernesga, at the end of a 1km straight. The run-in is on Avenida Facultad de Veterinaria (that's an interesting name) on the other side of Río Bernesga. I've just changed it from Avenida Lancia (on the map below), as the road is narrower, than i thought it was.



Finish in León.

A sample of the historical center of León:


XIII c. Catedral de Santa María de la Regla.


XI c. Basílica de San Isidoro de León – with tombs of various kings of the kingdom of León and (later) Castille.


Former town hall from XV c.


Casa Botines from the end of XIX c.

There are plenty of towns visited throughout the stage like Medina de Rioseco, Villalón de Campos, Villada, Sahagún, Cea, Almanza and Villarente. The last part of the stage, starting from Sahagún is in a hilly region of Los Oteros, which are the southern foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) in Cantabria and Asturia. There are a couple of hills to climb, but all of them are very easy. Alto de Rueda del Almirante (near Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada) is the only categorised climb of the day with 2km at 4,5%. It's there, so the breakaway can fight for something and maybe to help decide the combativity award.


XIII c. Puerta de San Sebastián, Medina de Rioseco.


X c. Monasterio Real de San Benito, Sahagún.


XV c. Castillo de Cea.


X c. Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada.

It will end either as a bunch sprint or a breakaway win. It depends on how strong the sprint field is and how many of them are willing to stay in the race. Tomorrow starts the 2nd mountain block of the race. Next stage is a borderline mountain/medium mountain affair in Asturias. Because i'm approaching them from north there will be no Cobertoria/San Lorenzo etc.

EDIT: I think Gigs_98 and i decided to post at the same time. Sorry for that. Here's Gigs_98's stage.
 
I had problems with this stage and i'm not the biggest fan of the outcome, but i need a transition towards the next stage, which i actually like.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/186880
Vuelta a España – stage 14. León – Cotobello, 179km, Mountain/Medium Mountain, MTF.



Climbs:
Alto de Santo Emiliano – 6,6km, 4,6%, cat. 3, 515m
Alto de la Mozqueta – 6,5km, 8,2%, cat. 1, 848m
Alto de la Espesura (la Bobia) – 3,5km, 7,7%, cat. 3, 577m
Alto de la Colladona – 6,8km, 6,7%, cat. 2, 850m
Alto de Cotobello – 10km, 8,4%, cat. 1, 1198m

Originally i had a finish on Cubilla, because i was baffled, why it was considered ESP. I decided to get rid of my frustrations here. Sadly, the Cubilla stage was in the middle of my Vuelta. Changing it for something entirely else would result in rebuilding a significant chunk of the race, which i didn't wanted to do. Cobertoria – Ermita de Alba would be a lazy option, which didn't really worked in 2015. There's also a bit forgotten Cotobello, which is not so popular on this forum and it was used only once by Vuelta in 2010. I thought, why not this one? It's not a bad climb – almost borderline 1/ESP.

The 2010 stage was way harder than this one with San Lorenzo and Cobertoria as run-up climbs. It was also at the end of a mountain block. The time splits were okay, but nothing out of this world. I doubt this stage will change this potential outcome. There are some minor run-up climbs on Valle del Nalón, which even include one cat. 1, but i don't think they're a replacement for San Lorenzo and Cobertoria.

While searching the profiles for the climbs of course i stumbled upon this bastard. I know, that sites like PRC and APM covered Spain to the point of complete ruination. Below is their version of this stage. I guess Faya los Lobos is AS-521.


...of course.

The stage starts in León. The first 55km to Pajares, which this time is an intermediate sprint, are slightly uphill with a small descent to the town of La Robla, where peloton will enter the Cantabrian Mountains, which was mainly a mining region. Many towns of this stage were founded as mining centers.

On Pajares riders will enter the region of Asturias. The modern Spain's roots are in the kingdom of Asturias, which was (with Navarra) the only Christian kingdom in early middle-ages' Spain. Kingdom of Asturias gave birth to the Kingdom of León, which then gave birth to the Kingdom of Castilla. The capital was i think Monte Naranco north of Oviedo. In XIX c. Asturias was an industrial and mining center. Many towns have preserved their industrial character. Nowadays Asturias is home to some beautiful gorges, countryside pre-romanesque chapels and carcasses of XIX c. industrialism.


IX c. Iglesia de Santa María del Naranco, Monte Naranco, Oviedo.

In the middle ages Pajares was one of the main mountain passes linking Asturias with León. On top of Pajares is a ski station of Valgrande-Pajares and the famous Cuitu Negru (in this case with a distracting shaky cam). While from north Pajares is a proper cat. 1, from south it's not even worth categorisation, so i decided to have the first intermediate sprint of the day at the top.


Puerto de Pajares.

The descent leads to Pola de Lena in the famous Lena valley, which is the traceur center of Spain with Ciutu Negru, Cobertoria/Gamoniteiro/Puerco (Cuchu Puercu?), Cubilla etc. Both Pola de Lena and Mieres further down the valley were coal mining centers. Nowadays they're home to various mining museums and manor homes from XIX c. Mieres is also a campus of the University of Oviedo.


Pola de Lena.


VII c. Ermita de Santa Cristina de Lena.


Plaza del Requejo, Mieres.

From Mieres the stage moves to Langreo in the Nalón valley (Valle del Nalón) via cat. 3 Alto de Santo Emiliano. It's a relatively easy and regular climb with 6,6km at 4,6%.


Profile of Santo Emiliano.


Valle del Nalón.

The Nalón valley is heavily urbanized, as some of coal mines are still operative. The modern Langreo was created in 1983 after combining a bunch of smaller towns like Ciaño, La Felguera, Riaño etc. Langreo was founded in XVIII c. as a mining and industrial center, mainly producing steel (Fábrica de La Felguera). There are plenty of post-industrial museums in the town, with the biggest one the Museo de la Siderurgia de Asturias in the former Fábrica de La Felguera.


Langreo.


Former Fábrica de La Felguera with an ugly structure of the museum.

From Langreo the race goes into the Samuño valley (Valle de Samuño) – another former mining center, where the next climb – Alto de la Mozqueta is. It's the first cat. 2 climb of the day with 6,5km at a fairly regular 8,2%. This climb is part of Alto de la Colladiella, which just 3km from Mozqueta. The descent back to the Nalón valley is quite steep, twisty and narrow.


Profile of Mozqueta.

The descent ends in the village of Santa Barbara, where another climb starts – Alto de la Espesura (or Alto de la Bobia). It's short, but quite irregular with plenty of over 10% sections and a small plateau at the top. The descent to San Martín del Rey Aurelio is also quite complicated. It's worth noting that it's a climb, that APM didn't used, so i'm more than happy about that.


Profile of Espesura (la Bobia).

After the descent to San Martín del Rey Aurelio there are roughly 10km of flat in the Samuño and Villoria valleys including an intermediate sprint in Pola de Laviana. Next climb is cat. 2 Alto de la Colladona, which is 6,8km at a fairly regular 6,7%. It's quite often used in the real Vuelta. A quite tricky descent leads to Cabañaquinta in the Aller valley.


Profile of Colladona.

Cabañaquinta is the main "district" of Aller, which is composed of various municipalities. It's home to the ruins of a XIII c. fort Castillo de Soto and two ancient chapels dating as far back as VIII c. Ermita de Miravalles and Ermita del Cristo. After a short flat in the valley the final climb of the day starts.


Castillo de Soto, Aller.


Ermita de Miravalles, Aller.

Cotobello is an Asturian sleeper, but it shouldn't be enough to generate any cosmic gaps. It's a very strong cat. 1 with 10km at a very stable 8,4% (max 13%). It's located in the heart of Sierra de Murias y Santibáñez (highest point – Pico los Pozos, 1563m). A the top of this climb is a local mirador. Interestingly, the official name seems to be Coto Bello, but Vuelta in 2010 used the form of Cotobello.


Profile of Cotobello.

Cotobello was used by Vuelta only once in 2010. The stage was won by Mikel Nieve from a breakaway. Apparently it was his first big win in his career, which is quite hard to believe. He seems to me like Rui Costa or Thomas Hitle... Voeckler – has this spider sense to find himself in the right breakaways. Way behind him Purito managed to put 35s on Nibali. Time gaps were generally quite big. However, it was not only at the end of a 3-day mountain block, but the stage also featured San Lorenzo and Cobertoria.


Profile of Vuelta 2010 stage 16.

I decided to use Cotobello mainly because it seems to be largely unused on this forum. I guess it's just not popular or this climb has some sort of a stigma, like Plateau de Beille.




Cotobello.

It's not a great stage, but i needed something to kick-off the next mountain block. Next stage is a borderline GC/transitional mountain stage, which also includes a not so popular combination.
 
Actually, I've been trying to find a way to get a Coto Bello finish onto a first day of a weekend for a while, but I've never been happy with a route I've included it in, and also as there are so many stage opportunities around the central mountains of Asturias and most of the unused terrain is to the west of the province, I've not yet really found a place for it. I quite liked the 2010 stage and thought they would have gone back by now.
 
So much quality lately in here. Rail, your Vuelta is amazing. LS, I've already given you enough praise, but I love these Nordic Series - a breath of fresh air here too. Gigs, looking forward to seeing more.
 
Thanks @jsem94.

Speaking of the west Asturias, this combination below is also not so often explored. It's not a GC killer, but i personally like this stage. It's sort of a cross between a transitional/GC stage, where technically nothing and everything can happen.

Last stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/168627
Vuelta a España – stage 15. León – Cotobello, 182km, Mountain.
(i'm leaving this because this mistake is just too horrid to not leave it :cool:. it's Oviedo - Grado, 182km, Mountain)



Climbs:
Puerto de Ventana – 13km, 7,1%, cat. 1, 1587m
Puerto de San Lorenzo – 10km, 8,5% (max 17%), cat. 1/ESP, 1347m
Puerto de Marabio (Maravio) – 6,3km, 9,2% (max 21%), cat. 1, 1078m
Alto de Yernes – 2km, 10%, cat. 2, 694m

This time PRC has it covered...


10 years... btw. I think Trobaniello is in a very awful state. The dirt doesn't look the best imo.

...gripping.

Ignoring (this time) PRC, the combination of San Lorenzo, Marabio, Yernes and Grado is not that popular. I guess it's because the top of Marabio is at least 30km from the finish line, which is not great. However, i never really did a similar stage to this and i'm really interested in the outcome of this contraption. It's a borderline GC/transitional affair from Oviedo to Grado. In straight line the distance between these places is roughly 20km... a very long transfer for what is technically a transitional stage.

The main difficulty of this stage are San Lorenzo, Marabio and punchy Yernes. All these climbs are not the longest in the world, but they're very steep and quite irregular. They're also quite nicely connected to each other.

The stage starts in Oviedo, capital of former Kingdom of Asturias, which is now Province of Asturias. Oviedo has a long and illustrious history, which is way too long for this post. It's a very popular cycling and traceur spot, as it's a perfectly connected to majority of Asturian climbs, which as renowned for their difficulty. It's also a popular finish in the real Vuelta, especially Monte Naranco. Oviedo is littered with pre-romanesque churches and chapels like IX c. Basílica de San Julián de los Prados, IX c. Iglesia de San Miguel de Lillo, VIII c. Monasterio de San Vicente, IX c. Iglesia de Santa María del Naranco and Cámara Santa from IX c. All of them are listed in the UNESCO WHS. There are also plenty of manor houses, pre-romanesque city walls and a IX c. fountain La Foncalada.


Oviedo.


Catedral de San Salvador, Oviedo.


Monasterio de San Vicente, Oviedo.

Sadly, i don't know the official names of local valleys. I hope they take their names from local rivers. It's sad, as Asturias is home to plenty of beautiful valleys/gorges. First 60km to Puerto de Ventana are on AS-228. It's a stunning route including the Teverga and Páramo gorges.


Desfiladero de Peñasjuntas (Peñas Juntas).




Teverga valley.





Páramo valley.

In the middle of it is a village of San Martín de Teverga. It's the only case in the race (not counting laps of the "parade" stage), where a small section of the stage will be repeated, making the Ventana-Somiedo detour a large loop. To commemorate that i decided to have two intermediate sprints in the village. Main sights are XI c. Colegiata de San Pedro de Teverga and a local prehistoric park, which houses examples of cave art from the likes of Altamira or Lascaux.


San Martín de Teverga.


Colegiata de San Pedro de Teverga.

The first difficulty of the day is Puerto de Ventana. It's possibly the hardest or the 2nd hardest (after Pajares) climb between Asturias and Castilla y León. It's a cat. 1 (not far from ESP), 13km at mostly regular 7,1%. I decided to exclude the first 7km in the Páramo gorge as they're mostly false-flat. A short and quite easy descent leads to the Babia valley in Castilla y León.


Profile of Ventana.

Ventana is linked with nearby Trobaniello. It's a significantly harder climb (with patches of over 15%) on a dirt road. However, i find this dirt to be in a rather poor state. If it's possible to clear it out or pave the road then it should be a way more attractive of Ventana, as it's nicely linked to Cobertoria and has a decent connection with San Lorenzo and Marabio.


Peña Ubiña (2411m) near Ventana.

Next 40km from Puerto de Ventana to Puerto de Somiedo are in Castilla y León, in a very rural Babia valley. The biggest village in the area is Piedrafita de Babia. From south Puerto de Somiedo is just a false-flat, so i decided to leave it uncategorised. The descent to the Somiedo valley is long and quite complicated. The main town in the valley is Pola de Somiedo.


Valle de Somiedo.

Soon after Pola de Somiedo starts the next climb of the day – Puerto de San Lorenzo. From west it's a borderline cat. 1/ESP climb. In Vuelta it's cat. 1, but i question their ESP categorisation process. I also have no idea, what ESP is and what's not, as there are way too many borderline 1/HC climbs in the country and not too many genuine HC climbs. Even Libertine's 21 ESP climbs thread has Cubilla for some reason, which i find baffling. Vuelta also had Fuente del Chivo as ESP a while ago for some reason. Hence, i decided that it depends on you, what kind of rating you want to give so this ESP mark on the profile is there to give the breakaway more point for the KOM competition.

San Lorenzo is a stairway-like climb composed of three 10-11% stairs and 2 false-flats. There are plenty of over 10% sections maxing out at 17%. The first stair to Las Morteras is 4km at 9%. After a 1km long false-flat is the 2nd stair, which is 3km at almost 11%. After another short false-flat the last stair is 1,5km at 9,5%. Overall, it's 10km at 8,5%. San Lorenzo was featured so many times in Vuelta that i'm not sure, when was the last time this side was used. I think it could be 2012 at the start to the Ciutu Negru stage, but there may be something i missed.


Profile of San Lorenzo.


Views from the top of San Lorenzo.

The descent, which includes a 5km at 11% wall, leads back to San Martín de Teverga. The road is wide and in good condition, but the sheer steepness combined with a number of harder turns can be tricky. Just after San Martín de Teverga the race enters the Taja valley. Taja is a small creek – tributary of Teverga. After 3km of false-flat the next climb start – Puerto de Marabio.

Puerto de Marabio (or Maravio) is a not-so-often used, but nicely linked with San Lorenzo pass to the Villabre valley. From south there are two sides – the main one to Ermita de Santa Ana, which is 6km at 8,5% with plenty of 10-15% sections. It's followed by a 6km long plateau ride. It was used once (from north) in 2002. Sadly, since then the road is in a state of decay.

There's a 2nd, less known side via Villamayor. It tops roughly 1km from the proper Puerto de Marabio on a local hill called Peña Cabrio. This side is cat. 1, 6,3km at an irregular 9,2%. Hidden in this ascent are a number of tiny false-flats and even a small descent followed by 15-20% walls (max 21%).


Profile of Marabio.

The ascent to Marabio is very complicated. First roughly 3,5km to Villamayor are on a quite narrow, but fine quality road. In the village starts a small, but very narrow and demanding section on hormigón, which includes very tough fragments reaching 20%.



A tough section of Puerto de Marabio in Villamayor.

This section is followed by a small descent on this time paved, but very narrow road. After the descent is one of the hardest fragments of the ascent, where the road reaches 21%. The surface is not in the best of conditions, but it looks better, than the Santa Ana side. After another series of walls followed by small flase-flat the last 1km is calmer, if constant 10% can be considered as calm. Interestingly, at the top the view is similar to a French-Basque climb.



Puerto de Marabio from Villamayor to the top.

The descent to the proper Puerto de Marabio is roughly 1km at 6,2%. It's quite easy, however the road is very narrow and the surface is not the best. It resembles something like Arnostegi or Artaburu/Errozate. After reaching Puerto de Marabio the road widens up, but it's in an abysmal state. The descent is not very steep nor technical, but there is a short section in the village of Villarbe, where it's over 10% (max 14%). This descent is sandwitched between two very picturesque mountain ranges of Sierra de Peña Gradura and Sierra de la Granda.


Descent of Marabio (only to the Yernes sign).


The descent is quite picturesque.

Roughly 8km from the top of Marabio stage leaves the main Grado road for a short, but demanding climb to the village of Yernes. It's a very tough 2km murito at roughly 10%. After San Lorenzo and Marabio it can be quite painful. The road is much wider and in better condition. This murito is followed by a very short, but quite narrow and technical descent in Yernes. Next 6km to Panicera (last intermediate sprint) are on a false-flat of Sierra de Muergos.


The very steep road to Yernes with Sierra de la Granda and the Marabio road in the background.


A plateau ride to Panicera.

The last descent to Grado starts in Panicera. It's 8,5km at roughly 6,5%. It's wide but also quite technical. The hardest part is near the bottom, where the road goes through a very dense forest. After that there's also a small 10-12% section in the village of Rañeces. The descent ends just outside of Grado, where the stage joins back the main road. The last roughly 3km to Grado are flat. The finish line is on Avenida los Deportes, in front of a local football stadium.


Grado.

Grado is located in the Nalón valley, roughly 20km west of Oviedo. Grado was found in XIII c. It was mainly a stop on a local Santiago de Compostela route and also a rural seat of various noblemans and manufacturers from Oviedo. Interestingly, Grado stayed as an agricultural town unlike other heavily industrialized towns in the region. There are plenty of manor houses from XVII-XIX c. like Palacio de Miranda-Valdecarzana or Palacio Velázquez.


Palacio de Miranda-Valdecarzana from XVIII c.

I don't know, what's a potential outcome of this stage. The top of Marabio is 30km, while Yernes 20km from the finish line, which includes a 6km false-flat. San Lorenzo, Marabio and Yernes are demanding, with plenty of over 10% sections and even small 20% features on Marabio. The descent from Marabio and Yernes are also quite tricky (mainly the road quality), but it's still 20km from the finish line.

I think this stage will be won by a breakaway. As for the favourites, i think it could be a 10-15-man group with relatively sizeable gaps behind but this stage is also designed with longer, more elaborate operations in mind unless Sky will decide to channel their inner Gewiss/US Postal.
 
I like the run-in there, I always had a tendency to try to link the Yernes-Grado finish to La Colledoria rather than Marabio, so it would be skipping Marabio and going over Cobertoria East and San Lorenzo East, or Bustellán north and Las Estacas west. I just always get tempted to go back to Oviedo from there, over La Degollada and El Violeo for a sawtooth stage if I'm not doing the double-borderline-ESP route over Cobertoria and San Lorenzo.

Here's the profile from 39x28 for Marabio the side you're descending including the Yernes climb, if you like:

 
Re:

Libertine Seguros said:
I like the run-in there, I always had a tendency to try to link the Yernes-Grado finish to La Colledoria rather than Marabio, so it would be skipping Marabio and going over Cobertoria East and San Lorenzo East, or Bustellán north and Las Estacas west. I just always get tempted to go back to Oviedo from there, over La Degollada and El Violeo for a sawtooth stage if I'm not doing the double-borderline-ESP route over Cobertoria and San Lorenzo.

Here's the profile from 39x28 for Marabio the side you're descending including the Yernes climb, if you like:

Yes, i've seen this profile. I doub't it's 19% in the village as 39x28altimetrias likes to exaggerate a bit, but it should be at least 15%. Also, i didn't uset it to not confuse the latter part of the descent, as this profile uses a different road.

I needed like 3 hours to find all the names you listed and it was tough. El Violeo i knew, but this Degollada is an interesting little ***. Asturias (and northern part of Galicia) has this advantage that it's like Italy, where muritos are everywhere. Sadly, Asturias is not as big as Italy, so it's still like 90% explored.

This stage below was created roughly a week ago and it's sort of an improvisation.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/188586
Vuelta a España – stage 16. Lloret de Mar. Costa Brava – Estación de Esquí Rasos de Peguera, 188km, Mountain, MTF.



Climbs:
Coll Sacreu (Collsacreu) – 7,8km, 4,5%, cat. 3, 353m
Coll de Santa Helena (Turó de l'Home) – 17,7km, 5,5%, cat. 1, 1233m
Coll Formic (Collformic) – 9,5km, 6,5%, cat. 1, 1145m
Collet de les Vaquez – 4,6km, 4,8%, cat. 3, 810m
Rasos de Peguera (Rassos de Peguera) – 20,3km, 6,9% (max 18%), cat. ESP, 1892

The last rest day is used to move the bunch from Asturias to Costa Brava.

I don't know why, but i wanted to have a genuine ESP MTF in the race and also use the Spanish/Catalonian side of Pyrenees. Sadly, the amount of (reasonable) proper ESP climbs in the area is very limited. Fumanya is a borderline 1/ESP, Fumanya & Pradell is only ESP because of the steepeness. Besides, both climbs were used extensively. Coll de Pall is also a borderline 1/ESP, and for the hype it gets, it's quite lacklustre. Not so popular Port-Ainé is theoretically as hard as Pall, but i guess Pall is sort of linked with Pradell.

Originally i had Port-Ainé as the MTF. I was also interested in borderline 1/ESP Rasos de Peguera, but the station was closed down in the 90's and used quite extensively on this forum... or i just imagined that. I know, that the search function here is not great. It's however weird, that Rasos (Rassos) de Peguera was only mentioned in passing in two LS posts. I guess he keeps it for the future.

Sadly, if i want to upgrade Peguera to ESP cat. i need to enter it from south (C-16), which means not much stuff before the climb. I prefer to have some climbing before the final test so i decided to at least put something in the middle of the stage. Thankfully Catalonia is a hilly region. I've consulted Sierra del Montseny, mainly known for Coll Formic and Turó de l'Home. The first half of Turó de l'Home – Coll de Santa Helena and Coll Formic should be ok to do the job.

The stage takes place in Catalonia – historically a mix between France and Spain. I know there are political tensions between Catalonia and Spain, but i hope they won't affect the race. I wanted to have at least one stage in Catalonia, because it's a very nice cycling spot with plenty of climbs, hills, technical roads and also a respectable amount of quality dirt tracks. This stage is based on a real stage from Vuelta 1984, which was won by Eric Caritoux. I decided to update that stage by adding in Coll de Santa Helena and slightly buffing up Rasos de Peguera.


Vuelta 1984's stage.

Originally this stage started in Lleida, but after changing the finish from Port-Ainé to Rasos de Peguera i needed a new place. After deciding on Santa Helena and Formic as warm-ups i decided on Costa Brava. I'm personally not the biggest fan of Costa Brava; i prefer Costa de la Luz. The most popular summer resort on this coast seems to be Lloret de Mar, last time used by Vuelta in 2005 as a finish to stage 8 won by Petacchi and ITT the next day won by Denis Menchov.


Lloret de Mar.

First 10km are quite technical, as they include a ride through nearby city of Blanes. It's one of the many towns of Costa Brava to be founded by Romans on then the main route to Barcelona. Nearby rock/islet Sa Palomera is marking the border of Costa Brava. The town is home to XI c. Castell de Sant Joan – one of the many coastal anti-pirate forts, two botanic gardens, water park and a firework festival.


Blanes.


Sa Palomera rock in Blanes.


XI c. Castell de Sant Joan, Blanes/Lloret de Mar.

The race continues alongside the coast up to Arenys de Mar, where peloton will leave the coast and move across Sierra del Montnegre to the Tordera valley (Vallès Occidental and Oriental) via cat. 3 Coll Sacreu. The coastal climbs in Catalonia are not very steep, but they're very technicall and some of them can be quite narrow. The descent from Coll Sacreu leads to Sant Celoni (or San Celoni).


Profile of Coll Sacreu (Collsacreu).


Sierra de Montnegre.


XI c. Castell de Santa Florentina, Canet de Mar.

Leaving Sant Celoni the race enters Sierra de Montseny (Massís del Montseny, highest peak – Turó de l'Home, 1706m). It's a quite popular region among cycling pundits with the likes of Coll de Santa Helena/Turó de l'Home, Coll Formic, Coll de Revell, Coll de Gomara etc. The climbs are long, quite shallow and very technical.


Sierra de Montseny.


Sant Celoni.

I decided to join the 1984's Coll Formic with new to the race Coll de Santa Helena. Both climbs are quite similar to each other – long, not steep and very technical. First is Santa Helena – sort of a longer verstion of Formic. It's 17,7km at 5,5% (max 12-14% near the summit). Santa Helena is of course the lower half of Turó de l'Home. The descent to the village of Montseny is difficult. It's technical, not that wide and in some places quite steep. The climb is mostly covered by foliege, but there are occasional gaps, where you can view as far as the Mediterranean coast.


Profile of Coll de Santa Helena.


One of many serpentines on the descent from Santa Helena.

Coll Formic (or Collformic) was used extensively in the 70's and 80's. However, since 1984 it seems to be out of Vuelta. Not like the road is in bad condition or it fell out of fashion as it's one of the main staples of Volta a Catalunya. Coll Formic is a borderline cat. 1/2 with 9,5km at 6,5% (max 10%). Like Coll de Santa Helena, Coll Formic has a quite technical, but this time shallow descent to Sant Miquel de Balenyà.


Profile of Coll Formic.

In Sant Miquel de Balenyà the race enters a large valley/plain Plana de Vic. In the center of this ancient sea bed is the city of Vic. Catalonia was heavily populated during the Roman Empire and Vic is one of the municipalities in the area to be found by Romans. It was then known as Ausa/Ausona. Vic was one of the first Spanish cities to have a bishopry (III c.), which was quite powerful througout the middle ages. Main sights include XI c. Catedral de Sant Pere Apòstol built upon a previous structure from at least V c. Templo Romano from II c. and Ermita de Sant Feliu de Savasona from X c.


Plana de Vic.


Roman temple of Vic.


Plaça Major (Plaza Mayor), Vic.

From Vic the race goes directly to Berga through a hilly region of Lluçanès. The main towns in the region are Olost and Prats de Lluçanès. After this 40km transition, which includes cat. 3 Collet de les Vaquez the race enters the Llobregat valley (part of the Bergadá region) and the town of Gironella.


Olost.


Gironella.

In XIX-XX c. the Llobregat valley was a quite large textile center. The towns in this valley – Gironella, Cal Rosal and Berga all were texite centers. The first major textile factory (now out of service) was founded in 1858 in Cal Rosal. The final climb of the day starts in the village. At the end of the valley is the town of Berga.

Berga was found in X c. In the middle ages it was a capital of a local county (Bergadá). Berga is probably most famous for a festival cultivated since the middle ages – La Patum, enlisted in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List. Berga extends to the north into Serra del Cadí, where you can find a bunch of castles and hermitages – XIII c. Santuario de Queralt (a quite popular HTF), X c. Ermita de San Quirico de Pedret (Sant Quirze de Pedret), remains of a Roman Castell de Sant Ferran or XIII c. Castell d'Espinalbet.


Serra del Cadí.

The classic route to Rasos de Peguera is a borderline cat. 1/ESP. To buff it up towards a genuine HC/ESP i decided to do some tweaks in Berga. Thankfully Berga has a number of steep roads. The climb theoretically starts in nearby Cal Rosal, but it's mostly 3-5%. The proper climb starts after the last intermediate sprint on Carretera Sant Llorenç. Rather than use the classic side via C-1411 i decided for Carrer de Cervantes followed by Carrer de Santa Joaquima de Vedruna interrupted by a small false-flat on Passeig de les Estaselles. This section is 1km at roughly 10% (max 16-18%). The race joins the classic route after an additional 600m part on Carrer Can Baster, which is at roughly 9%.


Bottom of Rasos de Peguera in Berga.


Carrer de Cervantes, Berga.


Carrer de Santa Joaquima de Vedruna, Berga.

Rasos de Peguera is sort of in between being regular and irregular. There are some 8-9% parts interrupted by easier ones and small false-flats but there are no dramatic changes in gradient. Not counting the section to Berga, it's roughly 15km at 7,2%. It's not bad – borderline 1/ESP. However, after adding in the part from Cal Rosal to Berga (with the aformentioned murito) it elevates to 20,3km at 6,9%, which not only leaves Aubisque quite a way behind, but also competes with both sides of Tourmalet, La Plagne, Pipay of Les-Sept-Laux or even the hardest side of Glandon. That would make it the hardest Spanish (non-obscure and non-Andorran) climb in the Pyrenees and a genuine ESP cat. I'm not sure, how to rate Turó de l'Home, which is much longer, but it's mostly a 5% grind with only last couple of kms being harder.



Finish in Rasos de Peguera.


Profile of Rasos de Peguera (w/o the Cal Rosal part).

Rasos (or Rassos) de Peguera is a former ski station, the only one in the province of Barcelona. It was closed in 1999 due to lack of snow and money. Apparently it was re-opened in 2010. It's the oldest ski station in Catalonia and one of the oldest in Pyrenees (opened in 1908). However, i find it more as a summer station – main hiking spot of Serra del Cadí. It's located in Serra del Cadí, on the southern edge of the Pyrenees, north of the Bergadá region. Just north of Rasos de Peguera is a very popular combo of Fumanya and Pradell. Rasos de Peguera was used twice by Vuelta in the 80's and then randomly in 1999 as Castellar Del Riu (won by Alex Zülle).


Views and the road to Rasos de Peguera.

It's the last and technically the hardest MTF of the race. 20km at not that regular 7% is quite demanding. In 1999 the gaps were... weird. Top 10 inside 50s, but 11th Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was 2:06 behind. Vuelta '99 was a bigger mess than Giro '10. It's also after a sizeable rest-day transfer from Oviedo to Costa Brava so it can be either helpful or not for the riders. I guess the first serious attempts at breaking up the GC group could come in Paso dels Llardes 4km from the finish line, where there's an entire 1km at 9% (max 10-11%) but the last 2km at 8% (max 12%) could also work.

It's the last stage of the 2nd mountain block. Next is a transitional stage ending on a HTF near an obscure but very picturesque Spanish town.
 
A transitional stage for a breakaway which exists only, because i really wanted to have a finish in Alquézar – the Aragonese Úbeda/Baeza. The closest town to Berga ,which i think is capable of hosting a Vuelta is Solsona. Solsona and Alquézar are roughly 170km from each other. The rest was very easy. Also, because of the abundance of long stages i'll try to keep this week's stages a bit shorter.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/188630
Vuelta a España – stage 17. Solsona - Alquézar, 174km, Hilly, HTF.



Climbs:
Collada de Clarà – 3,7km, 4,9%, cat. 3, 873m
Alto del Masucó – 2,7km, 5,8%, cat. 3, 621m
Alto de Alquézar – 3,5km, 6,5%, cat. 3, 680m

This stages goes alongside the border between the Pyrenees and Pla d'Urgell (later Aragon) and finishes in the region of Somontano (de Barbastro). The stage starts in Solsona, where the ascent of Collada de Clarà starts immediately. The descent leads to the Noguera valley (C-14) and the stage then follows the Lleida – Andorra road for a while. Near the town of Balaguer the race leaves Catalonia for Aragon. It then continues alongside the Tarragona – Huesca road up to Barbastro. The race finishes in Alquézar on smaller roads in the region of Somontano – one of the main wine regions of Aragon.


Somontano de Barbastro.

Solsona is a Roman town closely tied with the salt mines of nearby Cardona throughout the history. It was a capital of a local county and a major (mainly salt) trade center. The town is home to XII c. Catedral de Santa Maria de Solsona – former monastery, which became a cathedral in XVI c. after creating a bishopry in Solsona. Other sights include the remains of XIII-XIV c. city walls with 3 preserved gates – Pont, Llobera and Castell, XVIII c. Palau Episcopal – seat of local bishops, and a number of XV-XVI c. manor houses.


Historical center of Solsona.


Catedral de Santa Maria de Solsona.


Palau Episcopal, Solsona.

Biggest towns on this stage are Ponts, Artesa de Segre, Balaguer, Binéfar, Monzón and Barbastro. The majority of the towns in Pla d'Urgell and north Aragon was founded either by the Moors in VIII-X c. or after the XI c. Reconquista by the arangonese king Sancho Ramírez. Barbastro is also known for 51 Claretians being executed in the town during the Spanish Civil War.


XI c. Colegiata de Sant Pere de Ponts, Ponts.


XV c. Església (Iglesia) de Santa Maria, Balaguer.


XII c. Castillo de Monzón with Pyrenees in the background.


Barbastro.

The stage is quite hilly, but only 3 climbs are categorised – Clarà, Masucó, and the final dash to Alquézar. The toughest one is the last climb, which is 3,5km at 6,5% with the last 400m at 12-14%. It's a typical Valverde-sque murito.


Profile of Alquézar.

Why i wanted Alquézar to be in my Vuelta? Similar story to Úbeda and Baeza. It's a largely unknown, but picturesque town hidden in the Aragonese foothils of Pyrenees. Alquézar is located on a rocky outcrop over the Rio Vero gorge inside Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park, part of Sierra de Guara. North of the town is a set of over 60 limestone caves, which are home to prehistoric cave paintings.


Alquézar.

Alquézar was founded in IX c. by Moors on a border between Aragon and France (mainly the pyreneean kingdom of Sobrarbe), but in XI c. it fell into Christian hands. The stronghold lost its strategic importance and was accustomed as a church, which created this church-castle contraption of Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor. Thanks to being quite prosperous during the middle ages it's also home to plenty of gothic and reinassance manor houses from XV-XVII c.


Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, Alquézar.


Pasarelas del Vero, Alquézar.

For now the i put the finish on a new parking lot on top of a local hill, but it's possible to place it roughly 200m closer, at a crossroad between the parking road and the road to the town. I hope Alquézar will be more recognized as i find it to be a really nice place.


Finish in Alquézar.

Next is a sprint stage with a tiny potential of echelons before the final mountain block of the race.
 
In between the ongoing vueltas I have a new one day race.
In the parallel universe where our designs would be real races, more British regions than just Yorkshire are banking on the recent cycling successes of their compatriots. Some of them also understand that cycling can be a billboard for the touristic value of a region. Even the UK National Parks want to join the hype and do so in a most spectacular way by organising the inaugural

Lake District Classic (235 km)

The Lake District attracts over 15 million tourists every year, but there are no major settlements within the boundaries of the park. So, it was decided to start and finish the race in one of the bigger towns just outside the park, also to restrain the pressure on the environment within the park itself.
Kendal may not have the most attractive appearance, with its buildings of local grey limestone, which gave it the nickname "Auld grey town", but it serves its purpose well enough.



The course itself snakes through the hills and mountains of the park, while visiting the shores of some of the lakes which gave the park its name. There will be a mountains classification, with points to be scored on 11 categorized climbs, ranging from 3rd to 1st category.
1st category climbs will give 10-7-5-3-1 points to the first 5 at the top, 2nd cat climbs 6-4-2-1 and 3rd cat climbs 3-2-1 points.





The race heads north from Kendal, slowly gaining altitude and cresting the first categorized climb after about 15km. It goes on in more or less the same direction for another 25km before the course turns west and skirts the northern shore of Ullswater, the first lake.

Soon the picturesque lakeside is abandoned for the second climb of the day: Little Mell Fell


The peloton then heads for the A66, one of the two main arteries crossing the area. This will be followed for about 15km, meanwhile passing the Castlerigg stone circle.

In Keswick the course leaves the A66 and turns to Derwent Water, the second lake of the day.

The race will skirt its eastern shore and then follow the river Derwent upstream to the foor of the Honister Pass.





Its descent leads to the third lake: Buttermere.



Two flat but scenic kilometers on the lakeside are followed by the climb to Newlands Hause, also called Newlands Pass.


This climb, a bit under 2km at a bit more than 10%, leads the peloton back to the area of Derwent Water, without reaching it. Instead Whinlatter Pass is climbed.





Around the halfway point there are some easier roads, leading to Loweswater and the tiny Mockerkin Tarn. The road continues to go up and down, with the 3rd category Swarth Fell as 6th climb of the day.
After 150km, the course even comes with a mile or two from the Irish Sea, skirting the border of the park while riding on the A595.
With Wast Water and Scafell Pike on the left hand, the peloton nears the brutal Hardnot Pass, which is where the race will explode.





With 2.3km at 13.1% it has nothing to be shy of no matter which Italian murito, and being immediately followed by the long drag and steep dig up the Wrynose Pass, any gaps at the top won't be closed quickly.
The descent, very steep first, but easing later leads to Ambleside on the northernmost tip of Windermere, the biggest of the Lake District lakes.



Here the penultimate categorized climb of the day, the 1st category Kirkstone Pass kicks in. Its overall stats hide the irregular nature of the climb: a first steep ramp is followed by a short stretch of false flat before hitting double digit gradients again. After 2.5km there's about 1.5km flattish road before a final 300m long wall.


A sharp right hand turn marks the descent to the town of Windermere and the lake of the same name. The course will follow the road on the eastern shore for about 12km,to the southern point of the lake. There, with 20km to go, the final climb of the day will probably force the decision with its 1.6km @ 10.6%, before a final on rolling roads leads the remaining cyclists back home.
 
Lake district is a popular place to go for punchy races, as you have shown. You race looks quite similar to older versions of Classica San Sebastian. I guess it's a reduced bunch sprint, but it depends on the overall quality of the peloton. I was myself thinking about something similar, but i'm looking more into Ireland (preferably western part). Maybe an flattish echelon-based race could be interesting.

I need to finish my Vuelta and i'm still a couple of stages off. 21 stages is way too much, as it can get even an entire month to finish posting the race.

I'm not a specialist on the winds in Spain. This is sort of my try to include a very slim chance of echelons in the race that are not in Albacete. It's much easier to do these in Tour de France though.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/188952
Vuelta a España – stage 18. Huesca – Tudela, 152km, flat, potential echelons.



Climbs:
Puerto de Sierra Mayor – 13km, 3,9%, cat. 3, 944m

Originally, finish was in Olite. I've changed that as the plains of Navarra can be quite windy. The wind is mostly from N/NW. There's also not that much foliege to cover the roads. Changing the finish to Tudela means there might be a slight chance of echelons in the last 60km. However, it's not Aragon or Albacete. I doubt there'll be enough wind to do any trouble, but at least there's some sort of intrigue to this otherwise simple stage.

I decided to extend the stage a little bit from only 120km to 150km by including a detour around Sierra de Santo Domingo (part of Sierra de San Juan de la Peña), which is also the source of the only categorised climb of the day – Puerto de Sierra Mayor.


Sierra de Santo Domingo.

The stage starts in Huesca. It's here only because it's the only sizeable city near Alquézar. It just so happens that the very strategic placement of Huesca makes it very useful, when doing Spanish races. It's one of the main gates to the Pyrenees. The stages can go either deep into Pyrenees, Aragon, Catalonia or Navarra. This time i've chosen the last option.


Huesca.


XIII c. Catedral de la Transfiguración del Señor, Huesca.

From Huesca the stage goes to Ayerbe – former capital of a small medieval county. The town was founded by Moors in early IX c. as a stronghold between the Taifa of Zaragoza and Kingdom of Aragon. It was conquered by Arangonese king Sancho Ramírez in 1083. I'm mentioning him, as the majority of Reconquista in modern Aragon and Navarra was done during his reign. Main sights are XV c. Palacio de los Marqueses de Urriés – former seat of local lords and the remains of a Moorish hilltop fortress with the remains of a romanesque church from XII c. Not far north from the town is XI c. Castillo de Loarre.


Ayerbe.


Palacio de Ayerbe.


Castillo de Loarre.

Soon after Ayerbe the stage enters Sierra de Santo Domingo. The only categorised climb of the day, cat. 3 Puerto de Sierra Mayor, is 13km at quite irregular 3,9%. Sierra de Santo Domingo is largely uninhabited. The only sights of human life is in the villages of Fuencalderas and Biel.


Biel.

In Biel the race turns south into Luna and Erla. Next 30km of false-descent to the town of Luna are mostly in a forest. The history of Luna is similar to that of Ayerbe – a former Moorish fort turned in XI c. into a capital of a local county. The town is home to a number of castles/manor houses – XIV c. Castillo de los Luna, remains of XI c. Castillo de Villaverde and Castillo de Obano. On top of a nearby hill is XV-XVI c. Monasterio de Monlora. If anybody is planning on doing something like Vuelta a Aragón (i think it's discontinued since 2005?), then Monasterio de Monlora could be a potential HTF (4,3km at roughly 5%). From Luna the race leads to nearby hilltop town of Erla.


Plaza Mayor, Luna.


Castillo de Villaverde, Luna.

Starting from Erla the stage goes directly west for the next 40km. It seems in September the majority of winds come from N/NW and potentially also S. The road is 99% open with a small interruption of Ejea de los Caballeros. I used a site called weatherspark for this and in (let's say) 13th Sep (i guess this stage will be held around this date) the avg wind speed can be between 4-16 mph (5-25 km/h) with an avg of 8-12mph in the afternoon. It's not much, but there's at least a slim chance of wind affecting the race.



Openness of the plains of Navarra.

In the middle of the vast plains of Navarra is Ejea de los Caballeros, home to XI c. Iglesia de Santa María de la Corona, XIV c. Iglesia de San Salvador and XIII c. Iglesia de la Virgen de la Oliva. I thought, judging by the name, that the town was founded by the Knights Templar in XIII c but apparently it predates the Roman Empire as one of the main centers of an Iberian tribe called Suessetani and it remained as a relatively important town throughout the history. It may have been a Knights Templar estate in the middle ages.


Iglesia de Santa María, Ejea de los Caballeros.

The last 20-25km are in a small region of isolated hills called Las Bardenas Reales. The road is slightly more covered, but there are still many open sections left. This region has a fine amount of fine quality dirt tracks, which can be added in as an alternative. I decided to omit them as i already have a stage featuring dirt and i just don't want to have too much of it in the race.


Las Bardenas Reales de Navarra.


The road to Tudela in Las Bardenas Reales.

The run-in to Tudela is relatively straightfoward. However, in Tudela there are three 90deg turns in the last 1km (last one 450m from the finish line). For now i put the finish line on Avenida Zaragoza at the end of a 450m straight. Tudela lies in Las Bardenas Reales over the Ebro river, at the southern edge of the province of Navarra. Tudela exists since the Roman Empire. It was the last Navarrese city to fall into the Aragonese hands during the 1512 Aragonese (Spanish) invasion of Navarre. It was also place of 1808's Battle of Tudela during the Iberian War. Tudela is home to XII-XIII c. Catedral de Santa Maria, XII c. Iglesia de Santa María Magdalena and a number of XVI c. manor houses like Casa de los Ibáñez de Luna or Casa del Almirante. Tudela is the birthplace of a XIII c. poet Guilhem de Tudela.


Tudela.


Catedral de Santa Maria, Tudela.

After two calm stages it's finally time for the last mountain block of the race. Next stage is something very well explored but with a brand new finish option.
 
Vuelta a España stage 7: Ontinyent - Murcia (174 km)



After two medium mountain stages the sprinter get another chance before the climbers and stage hunters get their time to shine again on the 2nd weekend.
The stage starts in Ontinyent. The beginning of the day is quite hilly with two 3rd category climbs on the first 50 kilometers. Both the climb to the Ermita de Santa Barbara and the Puerto de Benifallim are rather flat but the uphill sections are quite long, in both cases clearly longer than the section that is categorized.
After these two ascents the stage completely flattens out. After a very gradual descent the riders arrive on sea level in Alicante where the first intermediate sprint takes place. The route leaves the coast but the stage remains pain flat while the riders pass the 2nd intermediate sprint in Eibar, as well as the cities Crevillent and Orihuela. The finish is located in Murcia, capital of the province with the same name and famous for its historical baroque buildings, like the cathedral of Murcia.


Contador tribute:
A rather small tribute this time. As I've already written, I tried to not only honor Contador's performances in the biggest cycling races but also in smaller spanish races, so as this stage finishes in Murcia it shouldn't come as a surprise that this stage is a tribute to the Vuelta a Murcia.
If you look at Contador's palmares you will see that he has actually never won this race, but that is only his official palmares, since his victory in the 2011 edition was later stripped from him due to his positive doping test from the 2010 tdf. Before making this vuelta I wasn't sure if I should only use his official wins for tributes or victories from 2011 as well, but since I had to make some tribute in this region I decided to make a stage dedicated to his Vuelta a Murcia win 2011. The race consisted of 3 stages of which he won two. One stage to the Sierra Espuña (who knows, maybe this climb will be used in another stage) and a time trial in Murcia, which was the last stage. He ended up winning the gc by only 11 seconds in front of Jerome Coppel and 53 seconds in front of Denis Menchov.
 
Disclaimer: Basque language is a horrible tongue-twister so some names are probably misspelled.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/183274
Vuelta a España – stage 19. Javier – Les Chalets d'Iraty. Chalet de Cize, 168km, Mountain.



Climbs:
Alto de Aibar – 5,8km, 4%, cat. 3, 704m
Col d'Elhursaro (Arnostegi) – 11,4km, 8,8% (max 18%), cat. ESP, 1197m
Col de Artaburu (Errozate) – 8,6km, 10% (max 22%), cat. ESP, 1158m

The first race posted in this thread was Tour du Pays-Basque Français (Iparraldeko Itzulia). Since 06.10.2011 Basque Pyrenees were already finished in my eyes. Since then the only (for me) major discoveries of the region were Urdanzia/Minhoa, Tonton's Pic de Beillurti, Mauléon-Licharre and Bosmendieta. If you wanted to have Arnostegi/Artaburu combo as the focal point of a stage, the closest confirmed finish was on top of Bagargi (Chalets d'Iraty), which from this side is mostly a 4% grind. Combined with Surzai it's roughly 18km (20-22km from Errozate) of what's basically a false-flat. With Chalet de Cize i'll try to limit this false-flat to just 8km and maybe add something new to this now stagnated region.

So, what is this Chalet de Cize finish? On the crossroads of Burun... Brundin... Brumbrum... Burdincurutcheta (da hell is this?), Bagargi and Surzai is a small lake Lac d'Iraty with two nearby chalets (i guess part of Chalets d'Iraty) – Chalet Pedro-Iraty and Chalet de Cize. Right on the crossroads is a relatively sizeable wild parking/camping spot. I decided to use this camping spot as the finish line. I know, it's not much, but the region is so extensively covered, that you really need to go out of your way to find anything new. Recently i decided to change the finish name from a much more Vuelta-esque elaborate one to a much simpler Les Chalets d'Iraty. Chalet de Cize.


Lac d'Iraty.

Because the full Errozate features an absolutely bonkers descent followed by a full Surzai grind i decided for (only) slightly shorter Artaburu, which has a slightly safer descent and a shorter Surzai. I know Surzai has some occasional 8-9% sections, but these are very short and the rest is a flase-flat. I hope this finish will help any potential pushes on Artaburu a bit more. This stage could be much tougher than it already is, but i decided to leave it as it is, to not kill the previous stages. I don't want to risk having any Giro 2014 scenarios.

I decided to move the finish line roughly 100km further as the previous spot was basically at the end of the descent from Surzai, which includes a very tight left turn near the finish. After the change this turn is at least 250m from the finish. Nearby are at least 3 half-wild parkings. The biggest one is right at the finish. Two other (smaller) ones are at Chalet de Cize and Chalet Pedro-Iraty.



Finish in Iraty.

There's a relatively fresh streetview from 2016, but it's only on the main Bagargi road. It seems the road to at least Chalet Pedro-Iraty was significantly widened. Also i think Arnostegi from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was slightly widened. Sadly, the satelite images and streetview for the region are outdated. There are some sparse youtube videos, mainly from (i think) Irati Xtrem race which shows, that not much has changed in the last 10 years.


Profile of Irari Xtrem 2016.

First 120km are quite bumpy, but only Alto de Aibar made the categorisation cut. 3 spikes after Villaveta are only tunnels. Ibañeta south is easy enough to be only an intermediate sprint. The descent to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is long and quite technical. The first real climb of the day – Arnostegi, starts in the village of Saint-Michel, 5km from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I expect the group will be quite large at the bottom of this climb.


Arnostegi.

Arnostegi (Elhursaro) is an octopi. Most of its sides are typical french-basque affair with 5km at 10-11% on a narrow road with large backdrops on its side and a plateau at the top. The only different side is Pic de Beillurti, which is more comparable to Mortirolo (i don't think it's as bonkers as Zoncolan or Punta Veleno).

Even with many, many sides Arnostegi has only two genuine HC/ESP options – Pic de Beillurti and Saint Michel. Because Pic de Beillurti was used quite extensively (by Tonton for example) i decided for the Saint-Michel side. It's basically the classic northern side from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, but wth different first 5km. They are on a narrow sideroad (comparable with Pic de Beillurti) at roughly 12% (max 16-18%) with the middle 3km at roughly 13,5%. Combined with a narrow road this can do quite a lot of damage even with a moderate pace.




Arnostegi from Saint Michel.

The last 100-150m are on either a broken asphalt or dirt, but that's how it was 10 years ago. I don't know if the road is finished or not. The last 500m also include 5 very steep and tight serpentines. It joins the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port road in a place called Kayola (near Refuge d'Orisson).


Last meters of the Saint Michel side of Arnostegi.

The last 11km to the top of Arnostegi (7 to Elhursaro) are on the classic Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port side. It's a well known scenic ride on top of a local mountain ridge. At the top there's a roughly 10km long plateau, which ends near an obscure French-Spanish border cross at the top of Col d'Orgambidé. The descent is very trecherous – narrow road and plenty of tight turns (4 serpentines).


Arnostegi from Saint Michel.


One of many serpentines on the descent from Arnostegi.

The descent leads to a small hut called Ottarrenea, where the next ESP climb – Artaburu (90% of Errozate) starts immediately. This climb is the staple of this thread, so it doesn't need any introduction. According to the 39x28altimetrias profile it reaches the heights of 22% (debatable, knowing this side) with an entire 5km at over 11%. The top is roughly 10km from the finish line.


Profile of Artaburu.


Views from the top of Artaburu.

The descent is only 2km long but it's also very trecherous, as the road is narrow and twisty (5 serpentines). The region also tends to be foggy, which should add in to the overall difficulty of this stage's descents.


The weaving descent from Artaburu.

After that it's mostly flat with some minor irregularities – Col d'Irau and one 9-10% part on Surzai. The top of Surzai is roughly 7km from the top of Artaburu and only 3km from the finish line. The descent to the finish is a bit steeper. It's easier than both descents from Arnostegi and Artaburu, but the road is still quite narrow and there are some tricky turns, like the aformentioned left hander 250m from the finish line.


Profile of Surzai (starts from the Artaburu sign).


Surzai.

I guess removing the 7km grind of Bagargi's west side should at least slightly help the chances of any Artaburu attacks surviving to the finish. Arnostegi and Artaburu should be hard enough to generate good selection even with a moderate pace. There's not much besides both climbs as i don't want do make it too hard and potentialy kill the racing on previous stages. I think even with only Arnostegi and Artaburu the gaps can be quite large, especially as it's one of the last chances to do any significant damage in GC.

Not many entries mentioned this, but with these climbs the main difficulty doesn't lie in the gradients (yep, talking about constant 10-12%) but in the technical descents, which are borderline unraceable. The weather also isn't helpful as the region is often foggy. I guess it could be Savoldelli's (i call him "ondulato" because of his derpy hairstyle) heaven, but that depends on how well could he survive the climbs.

The only Montagne Basque (Montes Vascos) climbs, that were used in either Tour or Vuelta were Sudet, Larrau, Bagargi and that Brumbrum one (add in recent Inharpu). I guess the north side of Arnostegi and Artaburu west could be potentialy useable (Pic de Noire is in this year's TdF and Inharpu in last year's Vuelta), but the time will tell as lately these big races are less shy with their mountains. The rest of the climbs (with maybe the exception of Landerre) is unuseable for a big race.

And i think i'll stop here, as this post is already long. As a short mention – Puerto de Ibañeta (Roncevaux) was one of the main French entrances of the Way of Saint James (Camino de Santiago) and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was one of the main stops and strongholds on the route (Vauban citadelle). The classic north side of Arnostegi was an alt route for the pilgrims as the Arnéguy valley was often attacked by thiefs. From these times are the remains of Château Pignon near Col d'Elhursaro. Javier is home to a quite nice and historically important Navarrese castle (birthplace of St. Francis Xavier). Nearby Sangüesa was once a capital of the kingdom of Navarre.


XI c. Castillo de Javier/Xabierko Gaztelua, Javier.


XII c. Iglesia de Santa María la Real, Sangüesa.


Citadelle de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The stage also ventures into the picturesque Irati valley (Foz de Iñarbe) from Nagore to Garralda (NA-2040). Here's a small sample of the valley:



Foz de Iñarbe.

I assume there will be more than plenty of fans on this stage (it's the Basque country) and on Artaburu it can be a bit crowded. Interestingly, both Arnostegi and Artaburu have a relatively wide roadsides (which means it's technically possible to widen the roads), so there should be plenty of space for the fans. There's still two stages left and the next stage is the last, where GC can be changed.
 
This may be something even APM and PRC didn't come up with. If that's true then play any outdated "Turn down for what" meme. It's also the only stage of this Vuelta that has 6 or more categorised climbs.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/179432
Vuelta a España – stage 20. Biarritz – Tolosa, 211km, Medium Mountain.



Climbs:
Alto de Jaizkibel – 8,3km, 5,2%, cat. 2, 455m
Alto de Igeldo – 7km, 4,9%, cat. 3, 350m
Alto de Azurki – 5,8km, 7,5% (max 18%), cat. 2, 672m
Alto de Karabieta – 6,7km, 6,5%, cat. 2, 565m
Alto de Elosua – 7km, 7,7%, cat. 1, 681m
Alto de Urraki – 8,5km, 7%, cat. 1, 679m

I decided to start this last GC stage in Biarritz rather than more popular Bayonne just to be a bit different. Biarritz is one of the main seaside resorts on Bay of Biscay (Golfo de Vizcaya/Bizkaiko Golkoa) which marks the only time this Vuelta visits the Atlantic coast. This city is just outside of Bayonne – historic capital of the Basque country. Biarritz started to gain prominence in XIX c. when it started (with some help from Victor Hugo) to promote itself as a seaside resort. Soon it became a popular spot for the important dudes like Queen Vicotria, Edward VII, Alfonso XIII or Eugénie de Montijo (the wife of Napoleon III), who commissioned to build the Hôtel du Palais. Since the '50s Biarritz is one of the main surfing spots in Europe.


Biarritz.


Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz.

Rather than go straight to Spain alongside the coast i decided to take a detour through the province of Labourd (Lapurdi), which i think partly includes the route of 2018 Tour de France ITT. The stage goes through Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Senpere), Sare (Sara), Ascain (Azkaine) and non-categorised Col de Saint-Ignace, home to Train de La Rhune – a Swiss-style narrow gauge line to the top of Larrun/La Rhune peak. Larrun is one fo the more important peaks in Basque folklore, considered to be a sacred mountain with a number of prehistoric dolmens and stone circles.


Labourdine-style home in Ascain.


Train de La Rhune.

After this detour the stage comes back to the Atlantic coast in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Next roughly 75km from Saint-Jean-de-Luz to Getaria are alongside this coast. The Basque coast resembles west Ireland with the ocean eroding relatively high and naked cliffs. The main coastal road often goes on top of these cliffs creating a very picturesque ride. Many towns (nowadays mainly summer resorts) on this coast were either into fishing or ship building.


Basque coast near Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

Throughout the history Saint-Jean-de-Luz was a fishing center, also (in)famous as a pirates hideout. In 1659 a marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa was finalized in the town as a result of the Treaty of the Pyrenees. This treaty was signed on a small Pheasant Island (Isla de los Faisanes/Île des Faisans/Konpantzia) near modern Hendaye, close to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. This island is located in the Bidasoa river, right on the border of France and Spain. This treaty finished the Franco-Spanish War, part of the Thirty Years' War.


Treaty of the Pyrenees, copy by Jacques Laumosnier of a tapestry by Charles Le Brun.


XVI c. town hall and short lived residence of Louis XIV, Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

The race leaves France in Hendaye (Hendaia), mainly known for the beautiful XIX c. Château d'Abbadie – former residence of a french explorer (mainly modern Ethiopia) Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie. Hendaye is also home to the aformentioned Pheasant Island. The status of this island is very peculiar as since the Treaty of the Pyrenees it switches nationality between France and Spain every 6 months. Hendaye was also the place, where in 1940 a meeting between Hitler and Franco took place to discuss Spain's participation in WW2. The main sights include the aformentioned Château d'Abbadie, XVII c. Croix d'Hendaye – a stone cross with alchemical symbols on it and the remains of a Vauban citadelle from XVII c.


Château d'Abbadie, Hendaye.

On the other side of the border are the towns of Irun (Irún) and Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía) – a former border and seaside stronghold, which saw many battles throughout the history (1476, 1521, 1638, 1719 and 1794). Main sights are XV-XVI c. Iglesia del Manzano, XVI c. city walls with plenty of preserved gates and bastions, and XVI c. Castillo de Carlos V.


Hondarribia.


City walls of Hondarribia.


Castillo de Carlos V, Hondarribia.

Both Irun and Hondarribia are known from Clásica de San Sebastián and the first categorised climb of the day – Jaizkibel is a staple of this race. Compared to other climbs of the region Jaizkibel is decent, but nothing special. From Hondarribia it's cat. 2 with 8,3km at 5,2%. It's a two-stepped climb with a false-flat in the middle (XVII c. Santuario de Guadalupe). The hardest part (10%) is right after the false-flat.


Profile of Jaizkibel.

Jaizkibel is also the name of the small mountain range this climb is in. Becasue of its strategic location right on the Atlantic coast and the French-Spanish border it's littered with former forts and bunkers from XVI-XIX c. Sadly, the road up to Jaizkibel is mostly in a forest, but when it opens up it can provide very good view of the ocean. A relatively long and sweeping descent leads to Donostia-San Sebastián.


Jaizkibel.

About the rest of the Gipuzkoa province, consider this post as a DVD feature. I'm continuing alongside the coast, which includes similar to Jaizkibel cat. 3 Igeldo (or whatever it's called, had trouble fiding the name). Similar to Jaizkibel the road is mostly in a forest, but when it opens up it can provide very good view of the ocean. A quite steep and technical descent leads to the town of Orio.


XVIII c. lighthouse Torreón de Igeldo.

Orio is closely tied with neighboring Zarautz. Both towns are former fishing turned tourist towns at the mouth of the Oria river. Zarautz is home to XVII c. beachside Palacio de Narros, which sometimes was used as a summer residence of many "important dudes", also royalties.


Orio and river Oria.

Not far from Zarautz is Getaria – a medieval ship building center, sailors academy and home to Juan Sebastián Elcano – capitan of Victoria, the only ship (with only 16 people) to survive the Magellan's circumnavigation voyage of 1519-1522. Technically Magellan was in Philippines before (where he later died), but Victoria was the first one to do the circumnavigation in one swoop. Getaria is also (with Bayonne and San Sebastián) one of the oldest towns in the province, founded in XII c. as the Cantabrian ports of the Kingdom of Asturias were too grabby, and Navarra wanted to secure it's share of Atlantic Ocean.


Getaria.

The race leaves the Atlantic coast in Zumaia (home to the Itzurun beach/sedimentary rock formation), where soon starts the climb up to Azurki. Previously i've used one of its southern faces, which is on hormigón. This time it's the north side. It's a short, but steep climb with the middle 3km at 10%, reaching the heights of 17-19% in some places. The descent to Elgoibar is quite long and technical.


Profile of Azurki starting from the Lastur sign.


Zumaia.


Itzurun beach, Zumaia.

From Elgoibar follows a 10km valley ride to Eibar. Rather than tackle Arrate i'm going south up to Karabieta. In contrast to Azurki, Karabieta is not as dramatic with only a couple of parts reaching 9-10%. A quite steep descent leads to the hilltop town of Elgeta and then Bergara.


Profile of Karabieta.

Roughly 4km from the bottom of Karabieta, after a ride through Bergara the next climb starts – Elosua (Elosa). Both Karabieta and Elosua were used in the Vuelta 2011 stage to Vitoria-Gasteiz, but they were way far out from the finish. Elosua is technically the hardest and possibly the highest climb (or tied with the nex climb) of the day with 7km at a very regular 7,7% (max 10-11%), which is one of the two cat. 1 climbs of the day. A quite technical descent (over the Urola valley) leads to the town of Azkoitia. From Azkoitia there are roughly 7km of valley ride through Azkoitia, Loiola (home to the eponymous sanctuary) and Azpeitia. In Azpeitia starts the final climb of the day – Urraki.


Profile of Elosua.


Basilica de Loiola.

At first i was thinking of Santa Ageda east, which is quite demanding – roughly 7,5km at 7,8% including a small descent from Bidania. However, i had problems linking it with anything else, as east of Tolosa there's not much. Urraki west is only slightly easier, while having fine tie-ins with Elosua and Azurki.

Urraki starts quite tough with 2km at 9% (max 11%). Then it continues with 7% for a while, but the higher it is, the easier it gets. Last 2km are mostly a 5% grind. Overall, it's the 2nd cat. 1 climb of the day with 8,5km at 7%. This can either invite early action on the climb or kill it with easier last kms. Considering that it's the last possible chance of a GC shake-up it should be ridden very hard.


Profile of Urraki.

The descent to Tolosa (including a small bump of Bidania) is quite steep, mostly at 8-10%. It's wide and not technical, but there are a bunch of sweepers and false-turns, so it's not a 100% power descent. Last 2,5km in the Oria valley are flat. The finish line is on San Frantzisko Pasealekua Ibilbidea at the end of a 320m straight. I've chosen Tolosa not only because it's nicely linked to Urraki, but also because it's one of the prettiest towns of the Basque valeys of Gipuzkoa with a number of XVII c. "basque baroque" monuments like Iglesia de Santa Maria, town hall, Aramburu, Atodo and Idiáquez palaces. Tolosa was a stage finish at least twice in pre-1970 Vuelta and i thought at least once in the 70's, but i couldn't find it.



Finish in Tolosa.


Tolosa.

I assume Elosua and Urraki will be pretty crowded knowing the Basque fans, especially if somebody from their home turf like Landa is in podium/winning contention. The roads are thankfully wide, so there should be plenty of space for the crowds. The only narrower bit is the climb to Azurki.

Because it's the last stage, where anything regarding GC can happed, i wonder if there might be some potential moves allready on Elosua, as it's technically harder than Urraki. However, for it to work the attacker will need some help ("satelites") in the 7km valley ride between the climbs. The breakaway should be relatively big, as it's highly probable it's their last chance to win a stage and also there are plenty of points to the KOM competition if it's still unresolved. I expect the time splits between the groups to be relatively large.

The last stags is probably a sprint fanfare, but there's a small but quite steep bump near the finish line. Also, it's not in Madrid.
 
It was the 2nd stage borrowed from my first draft of Vuelta, but i included a harder version of Castillo de Burgos than i previously used. For now i decided to stay with onle 3 laps, but that's changeable.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/191235
Vuelta a España – stage 21. Vitoria-Gasteiz – Burgos, 147km, Flat/Hilly.



Climbs:
Puerto de Zaldiaran – 5,6km, 4,3%, cat. 3, 806m
Puerto de la Brújula – 5km, 3%, no puntable, 981m
Castillo de Burgos (x3) – 0,6km, 9,2% (max ~20%), no puntable, 931m

Laps:
Burgos – 3x6,5km

I decided to finish the Vuelta in Burgos just to be a bit different. Actually, none of my two Giris finishes in Milan and my Tour de France finished in Versailles so i guess it's just me.

I guess Vitoria-Gasteiz will be the best place to start this stage. Thanks LS for doing a recap of Vitoria-Gasteiz. The stage then goes through the very elaborate border system between the Basque country, La Rioja and Castilla y León, which also includes the Castillian exclave of Condado de Treviño. At one point the race is as close to La Rioja as 1-2km, but it never visits the province.

The exclave of Treviño is one of many Castillian exclaves in either Basque country (Álava region) or La Rioja. There is even a small exclave of i think one house near the village of Villaseca west of Haro. Most of these exclaves were created after a set of turbulences between the Kingdom of Castilla and Kingdom of Navarra in XII-XIII c. However, Condado de Treviño (afaik) prefers to be part of Álava region (via referendum a while ago).


Treviño.

The majority of the stage is on N-I between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Burgos. A significant part of the stage between Miranda de Ebro and Burgos (the region of La Bureba) is quite open and windy. I'm taking a small detour just outside of Burgos to include an archaelogical site of Atapuerca and to keep clear of city's airport. However, that means i'm using a fair bit of the Barcelona – La Coruña N-120 road.


Miranda de Ebro.

The highlights of this stage are the aformentioned Castillian exclaves of Álava, Miranda de Ebro, Desfiladero de Pancorbo (a small gorge of Río Oroncillo near the village of Pancorbo) and the archaelogical site of Atapuerca, which houses major remains of various human ancestors (also includes one of the oldest examples of Homo Erectus in western Europe) from around 1 million ago to the Bronze Age.


Desfiladero de Pancorbo.

Burgos was (if i'm not mistaken) the last capital of Spain before Madrid. It's home to the famous XIII c. cathedral. It's also heavily associated with El Cid – a Spanish national hero from the Reconquista period. Interestingly, it's not a big city with only roughly 200k inhabitants. Burgos is often seen in Vuelta, mostly as an ITT, because then you can finish in front of the cathedral. Last time Burgos was a sprint finish in 2013. The stage was won by Bauke Mollema from a reduced (35-men) group after a 1km dash to the finish. Burgos is also home to a local race called Vuelta a Burgos held in August. Last edition was won by Mikel Landa on an 8km wall of Picón Blanco.


Burgos.

There are 3 laps in Burgos. The laps are different from the route Vuelta a España and Burgos take. I'm going through Cerro de Castillo, but not via Carretera del Castillo, but a much shorter and tougher ascent via Travesía de las Corazas. The race joins Carretera del Castillo on a bridge over Travesía de las Corazas. This climb is 0,9km at 7,8% and in some places it cracks 15%. There's a roughly 40-50m part to the bridge which is very steep, maybe even over 20%. This section ends with a very tight and narrow left hand turn. The whole climb is generally narrow, so positioning is the key. The top is roughly 4km from the finish line.




Climb to Castillo de Burgos.

Each passage at the top of this climb is rewarded with small time bonuses from the intermediate sprints, so if there's a case of small time split(s) then the GC guys can try to fight on these narrow 10% gradients. I don't remember if i mentioned that, but in this race intermediate sprints give you 5, 2, 1s and stage finishes 10, 5, 2s. It can be bumped up to 10s per sprint and 20s per finish, that depends on your preference.


The remaining walls of the Burgos castle.

The descent from Cerro de Castillo is 2km long. It's quite complicated with at least 7 90deg or more turns. First 600m on Carretera del Castillo are quite narrow, with one serpentine. Next 400m, after another 180deg turn, are on a wider Calle de Fernán González. Next 180deg turn just outside of the city walls (Arco de San Martin) leads into Calle Santa Águeda. After roughly 350m is a 90deg turn into very short Calle Barrantes, which is followed by another 90deg turn and a 400m ride on Paseo de los Cubos alongside the city walls. The descent ends on Paseo de la Isla after a short transition on Calle Lavadores including two additional 90deg turns.


Map of the ascent and descent of Castillo de Burgos.


Paseo de los Cubos and the city walls of Burgos.

From the bottom of Castillo de Burgos there are 2,1km left. They're mostly alongside the Arlanzón river, which includes Paseo de la Isla, Puente de Castilla, Carretera de Logroño (Museo de Burgos and Museo de la Evolución Humana), Puente de San Pablo (statue of El Cid) and Calle de Vitoria. It's a relatively straightfoward route with four 90deg turns (two of them on roundabouts). The finish line is on Calle de Vitoria at the end of a 630m straight. To end this lap the peloton goes via Calle de Segovia and then Avenida de la Paz to start the climb to the castle once again.



Finish in Burgos.


Estatua del Cid, Burgos.

For now i decided on only 3 laps as i want to give some chances to any remaining sprinters, so there's some suspence as i guess it might end in a sprinter/puncher/gc mixed bunch sprint. If there's a Vinokurov, Garzelli or Valverde, who wants to gain some seconds he will need to do some work. With more laps i feel it would be too hard for the sprinters and easier for more punchy (also GC) guys. Of course that's only my own flawed reasoning. The number of laps is variable. It depends on your personal preferences, how many of them are.
 
Sorry for waiting, but i forgot to write a recap.

Vuelta a España – recap.
https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/tours/view/7931

I'm really happy with this race, even with my frustrations with PRC and APM. I managed to include a good amount of places that i liked. I also managed to include a respectable amount of ESP climbs – 5-6 comparable to 1-2 the real Vuelta has, fair amount of sprint stages – 5-6, 4 hilltop finishes (5 if La Pinilla is included), 4 mountaintop finishes (3 if La Pinilla is excluded) and 4 descent finishes (including Chalet de Cize). There are two stages with some amount of different surfaces – 14,2km of dirt on stage 7 and 2,5km of cobbles on the time trial to Úbeda. There are also two stages with a slim chance of echelons – stage 1 to Mérida and stage 18 to Tudela.

The only country in this race other than Spain is France. Combining both stages 19 and 20 there are roughly 110km outside of Spain. The race omits a number of Spanish regions – Galicia, La Rioja, Valencia and Murcia. Castilla y León has the largest number of stages with 5. Other regions with more than 2 stages are Castilla-La Mancha with 4, Andalucia with 3 and Extremadura, also with 3.

With this race i wasn't going for optimalization. I actually wanted to have a more climbers friendly race without the excessive usage of short, garage HTFs. The main objective however was just to use places in Spain that i liked. I tried to restrain from any long day-to-day transfers. The longest are roughly 100km long. The result of this approach is the length of the race. The race is also (intentionally) a bit backloaded to maybe attract some names from Tour de France. I assume this edition of the race would be fine with a relatively flattish WC course.

The length of this Vuelta wasn't intentional. I don't really mind it, as Vuelta is normally very short and one edition with longer stages than normally shouldn't be the end of the world. I personally don't think in this day and age the length of the stage does really matter besides a shorter time for acclimatization after transfers, hence i tried to keep the transfers short (below 100km) for Vuelta's standards. The 1st week has the longest stages but with each day i tried to keep the stages shorter, to keep the route somewhat humanly possible to finish.

While i used more obscure finishes, i tried to not use any random villages in the middle of nowhere. If i have chosen a more obscure finish it's becasue this particular place has something that i liked (Vélez-Blanco, Alquézar, Cuéllar, Coca), i found historically important (Campo de Criptana, Parador de Gredos, partly Pastrana) or was just perfectly placed for me (Chalet de Cize, Tolosa, Albuñol, partly Pastrana). I also tried to include some places or combination that went somewhat unused or not so popular on this forum - Mezquita, Cotobello, Chalet de Cize, San Lorenzo with Marabio and Rasos de Peguera.

Race stats:
Overall length: 3623km
Flat stages: 5
Hilly stages: 3
Medium mountain stages: 5
Mountain stages: 6
Time trials: 2 (overall: 62,6km)
MTFs: 4
HTFs: 4

Because of sheer amount of stages i decided to omit posting every profile. Below is the stage list.

Stage list:
1. Mérida – Mérida, 195km
2. Medellín – Guadalupe, 232km
3. Navalmoral de la Mata – Alto del Risquillo. Parador de Gredos, 165km
4. Talavera de la Reina – Campo de Criptana, 193km
5. Argamasilla de Alba – Linares, 185km
6. Baeza – Úbeda, 23,5km
7. Cazorla – Vélez-Blanco, 223km
8. Huércal-Overa – Sierra Cabrera. La Mezquita, 148km
9. Almería – Albuñol, 219km
10. Cuenca – Cuenca. Castillo de Cuenca, 224km
11. Pastrana – Estación de Esquí La Pinilla, 187km
12. Cuéllar – Coca, 39,2km
13. Valladolid – León, 187km
14. León – Cotobello, 179km
15. Oviedo – Grado, 182km
16. Lloret de Mar. Costa Brava – Estación de Esquí Rasos de Peguera, 188km
17. Solsona – Alquézar, 174km
18. Huesca – Tudela, 152km
19. Javier – Les Chalets d'Iraty. Chalet de Cize, 168km
20. Biarritz – Tolosa, 211km
21.Vitoria-Gasteiz – Burgos, 147km

List of cat. 1 & ESP (bolded) climbs per stage:
3. Puerto del Pico
8. Cerro de la Mezquita (debatable ESP)
9. Alto El Marchal, Puerto de Haza del Lino, Alto Loma de la Señora
14. Alto de la Mozqueta, Alto de Cotobello
15. Puerto de Ventana, Puerto de San Lorenzo (debatable ESP), Puerto de Marabio
16. Coll de Santa Helena, Coll Formic, Rasos de Peguera
19. Col d'Elhursaro, Col de Artaburu
20. Alto de Elosua, Alto de Urraki

I don't know, what will be my next race. I'm looking at the Appalachian Mountains (mainly Mt. Washington Austrian-like garage MTF), Ireland (hills and wind), Hungary (great country) or finally do a race in former Chechoslovakia. For now i'm out. Cheers.
 
Congrats, it's a really nice Vuelta. Really, really nice.

One minus: as you mentioned, not all of Spain is covered. Nit-picking on my part, but that's my pet-peeve, and the reason why my Vuelta is still not coming together :eek: .

Many pluses: really clean how the stages link, some awesome stage designs, and the conclusion is quite interesting, stage 20 in particular. Shorter climbs in succession, seeming to go crescendo, that one I looooove. Not falling into the new short stage fad, but rather a Marvin Hagler beat-down opportunity. Original.

A really, really nice Vuelta.

Props.
 
I wasn't expecting to come back so soon. LFR lately had an update on Belgian cobbles, which also included my region of interest. Originally i was planning on a west Flanders race to Brugge including parts of the Dutch Flanders (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen). However, after the update it seens there are way more cobbled sectors in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen that i missed (mainly the eastern part) and it helped me in creating a one-day race dedicated to the region.

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/192709
Ronde de Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Terneuzen – Terneuzen, 183km, Flat



Cobbles (length, location, difficulty):
1. Heidedijk – 200m, 43,6km, *
2. Waterhuis – 800m, 54km, ***
3. Plattedijk – 1400m, 59,6km, *
4. Braakmanlaan – 500m, 78,4km, *
5. Noordstraat – 1200m, 80,8km, *
6. Schorerweg – 900m, 84,4km, **
7. Ijzendijke – 1000m, 86,1km, *
8. Graaf Jansdijk (Belgium) – 2400m, 112km, **
9. Heilleweg – 800m, 133,3km, *
10. Kerkweg – 500m, 141,8km, ***
11. Casteleynstraat (Belgium) – 1200m, 152,2km, **
12. Kasseiweg – 700m, 156km, **
13. Smokkelweg – 2100m, 164km, ***
14. Bolderweg – 1000m, 168,4km, ***/****

I think this could be a fine continental race. I thought of either placing it somewhere before Paris-Roubaix (as a prep race) or maybe as a prep before Eneco/BinckBank Tour or European Champs, roughly week after Tour de France. It would be a race mainly for continental teams from Benelux, Germany and maybe France with maybe Lotto and Quickstep also getting invitations. Of course it's not as hard as Paris-Roubaix is but the region hasn't the ability to have such race and i also wasn't loking for anything like that.

The race takes place in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen – a geographically interesting, but otherwise dull region (not to be harsh, but like most) of Netherlands. This very flat region is separated from "mainland" Netherlands by Belgium (Antwerp) and the Westerschelde estuary. The region is technically connected to Netherlands by the N62 tunnel under the Westerschelde estuary. The main and only bigger town of the region is Terneuzen – mainly a harbor and industrial (chemical) center.


Terneuzen.

The main difficulty of the race are cobbles. There are no hills or climbs, the stage doesn't go more than 5m above the sea level. The race has a figure 8 shape. To gain some distance and add in two cobbled sectors i decided to have small parts in Belgium, which also includes the harbor city of Knokke-Heist on the North Sea's coast. The aformentioned Belgian cobbled sectors are Graaf Jansdijk – the longest sector and Casteleynstraat – one of the hardest sectors. The race also includes a relatively big amount of narrow roads, which in cobination with flat and mostly open surroundings can be prone to some echelons.

While there are 14 cobbled sectors, i would only count the last 8 as significant. Most of the early stuff is quite easy and is there to warm up the legs. The first sector, which may provide some initial selection is Graaf Jansdijk – the longest (2,4km) but not overly difficult sector of the stage. The main part of the stage starts in the last 30km with Casteleynstraat. In a relatively quick succession it's followed by Kasseiweg, Smokkelweg and Bolderweg of which the last two are the hardest sectors of the stage. Bolderweg is roughly 13km from the finish line, which is in Terneuzen on Zuiderparklaan (Zuidersportpark) at the end of a 370m straight.


Casteleynstraat.


Kasseiweg.


Smokkelweg.


Bolderweg.

I assume the main chunk of the action will take on Smokkelweg and Bolderweg (borderline 3/4-star IMO). I'm not expecting any monster gaps. I guess it'll be 10-20-man groups separated by 30-50s.

Sorry for this rather bland entry, it was unexpected and not overly prepared beforehand. Besides the interesting geographical background it seems to be a rather bland and dull region. However, i liked this race enough to post it here.
 
railxmig said:
Cobbles (length, location, difficulty):
1. Heidedijk – 200m, 43,6km, *
2. Waterhuis – 800m, 54km, ***
3. Plattedijk – 1400m, 59,6km, *
4. Braakmanlaan – 500m, 78,4km, *
5. Noordstraat – 1200m, 80,8km, *
6. Schorerweg – 900m, 84,4km, **
7. Ijzendijke – 1000m, 86,1km, *
8. Graaf Jansdijk (Belgium) – 2400m, 112km, **
9. Heilleweg – 800m, 133,3km, *
10. Kerkweg – 500m, 141,8km, ***
11. Casteleynstraat (Belgium) – 1200m, 152,2km, **
12. Kasseiweg – 700m, 156km, **
13. Smokkelweg – 2100m, 164km, ***
14. Bolderweg – 1000m, 168,4km, ***/****
They must've been desperate for inspiration when they called it Kasseiweg
 
railxmig said:
This may be something even APM and PRC didn't come up with. If that's true then play any outdated "Turn down for what" meme. It's also the only stage of this Vuelta that has 6 or more categorised climbs.

Previous stage: link

https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/viewtrack/179432
Vuelta a España – stage 20. Biarritz – Tolosa, 211km, Medium Mountain.



Climbs:
Alto de Jaizkibel – 8,3km, 5,2%, cat. 2, 455m
Alto de Igeldo – 7km, 4,9%, cat. 3, 350m
Alto de Azurki – 5,8km, 7,5% (max 18%), cat. 2, 672m
Alto de Karabieta – 6,7km, 6,5%, cat. 2, 565m
Alto de Elosua – 7km, 7,7%, cat. 1, 681m
Alto de Urraki – 8,5km, 7%, cat. 1, 679m

I decided to start this last GC stage in Biarritz rather than more popular Bayonne just to be a bit different. Biarritz is one of the main seaside resorts on Bay of Biscay (Golfo de Vizcaya/Bizkaiko Golkoa) which marks the only time this Vuelta visits the Atlantic coast. This city is just outside of Bayonne – historic capital of the Basque country. Biarritz started to gain prominence in XIX c. when it started (with some help from Victor Hugo) to promote itself as a seaside resort. Soon it became a popular spot for the important dudes like Queen Vicotria, Edward VII, Alfonso XIII or Eugénie de Montijo (the wife of Napoleon III), who commissioned to build the Hôtel du Palais. Since the '50s Biarritz is one of the main surfing spots in Europe.


Biarritz.


Hôtel du Palais, Biarritz.

Rather than go straight to Spain alongside the coast i decided to take a detour through the province of Labourd (Lapurdi), which i think partly includes the route of 2018 Tour de France ITT. The stage goes through Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Senpere), Sare (Sara), Ascain (Azkaine) and non-categorised Col de Saint-Ignace, home to Train de La Rhune – a Swiss-style narrow gauge line to the top of Larrun/La Rhune peak. Larrun is one fo the more important peaks in Basque folklore, considered to be a sacred mountain with a number of prehistoric dolmens and stone circles.


Labourdine-style home in Ascain.


Train de La Rhune.

After this detour the stage comes back to the Atlantic coast in Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Next roughly 75km from Saint-Jean-de-Luz to Getaria are alongside this coast. The Basque coast resembles west Ireland with the ocean eroding relatively high and naked cliffs. The main coastal road often goes on top of these cliffs creating a very picturesque ride. Many towns (nowadays mainly summer resorts) on this coast were either into fishing or ship building.


Basque coast near Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

Throughout the history Saint-Jean-de-Luz was a fishing center, also (in)famous as a pirates hideout. In 1659 a marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa was finalized in the town as a result of the Treaty of the Pyrenees. This treaty was signed on a small Pheasant Island (Isla de los Faisanes/Île des Faisans/Konpantzia) near modern Hendaye, close to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. This island is located in the Bidasoa river, right on the border of France and Spain. This treaty finished the Franco-Spanish War, part of the Thirty Years' War.


Treaty of the Pyrenees, copy by Jacques Laumosnier of a tapestry by Charles Le Brun.


XVI c. town hall and short lived residence of Louis XIV, Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

The race leaves France in Hendaye (Hendaia), mainly known for the beautiful XIX c. Château d'Abbadie – former residence of a french explorer (mainly modern Ethiopia) Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie. Hendaye is also home to the aformentioned Pheasant Island. The status of this island is very peculiar as since the Treaty of the Pyrenees it switches nationality between France and Spain every 6 months. Hendaye was also the place, where in 1940 a meeting between Hitler and Franco took place to discuss Spain's participation in WW2. The main sights include the aformentioned Château d'Abbadie, XVII c. Croix d'Hendaye – a stone cross with alchemical symbols on it and the remains of a Vauban citadelle from XVII c.


Château d'Abbadie, Hendaye.

On the other side of the border are the towns of Irun (Irún) and Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía) – a former border and seaside stronghold, which saw many battles throughout the history (1476, 1521, 1638, 1719 and 1794). Main sights are XV-XVI c. Iglesia del Manzano, XVI c. city walls with plenty of preserved gates and bastions, and XVI c. Castillo de Carlos V.


Hondarribia.


City walls of Hondarribia.


Castillo de Carlos V, Hondarribia.

Both Irun and Hondarribia are known from Clásica de San Sebastián and the first categorised climb of the day – Jaizkibel is a staple of this race. Compared to other climbs of the region Jaizkibel is decent, but nothing special. From Hondarribia it's cat. 2 with 8,3km at 5,2%. It's a two-stepped climb with a false-flat in the middle (XVII c. Santuario de Guadalupe). The hardest part (10%) is right after the false-flat.


Profile of Jaizkibel.

Jaizkibel is also the name of the small mountain range this climb is in. Becasue of its strategic location right on the Atlantic coast and the French-Spanish border it's littered with former forts and bunkers from XVI-XIX c. Sadly, the road up to Jaizkibel is mostly in a forest, but when it opens up it can provide very good view of the ocean. A relatively long and sweeping descent leads to Donostia-San Sebastián.


Jaizkibel.

About the rest of the Gipuzkoa province, consider this post as a DVD feature. I'm continuing alongside the coast, which includes similar to Jaizkibel cat. 3 Igeldo (or whatever it's called, had trouble fiding the name). Similar to Jaizkibel the road is mostly in a forest, but when it opens up it can provide very good view of the ocean. A quite steep and technical descent leads to the town of Orio.


XVIII c. lighthouse Torreón de Igeldo.

Orio is closely tied with neighboring Zarautz. Both towns are former fishing turned tourist towns at the mouth of the Oria river. Zarautz is home to XVII c. beachside Palacio de Narros, which sometimes was used as a summer residence of many "important dudes", also royalties.


Orio and river Oria.

Not far from Zarautz is Getaria – a medieval ship building center, sailors academy and home to Juan Sebastián Elcano – capitan of Victoria, the only ship (with only 16 people) to survive the Magellan's circumnavigation voyage of 1519-1522. Technically Magellan was in Philippines before (where he later died), but Victoria was the first one to do the circumnavigation in one swoop. Getaria is also (with Bayonne and San Sebastián) one of the oldest towns in the province, founded in XII c. as the Cantabrian ports of the Kingdom of Asturias were too grabby, and Navarra wanted to secure it's share of Atlantic Ocean.


Getaria.

The race leaves the Atlantic coast in Zumaia (home to the Itzurun beach/sedimentary rock formation), where soon starts the climb up to Azurki. Previously i've used one of its southern faces, which is on hormigón. This time it's the north side. It's a short, but steep climb with the middle 3km at 10%, reaching the heights of 17-19% in some places. The descent to Elgoibar is quite long and technical.


Profile of Azurki starting from the Lastur sign.


Zumaia.


Itzurun beach, Zumaia.

From Elgoibar follows a 10km valley ride to Eibar. Rather than tackle Arrate i'm going south up to Karabieta. In contrast to Azurki, Karabieta is not as dramatic with only a couple of parts reaching 9-10%. A quite steep descent leads to the hilltop town of Elgeta and then Bergara.


Profile of Karabieta.

Roughly 4km from the bottom of Karabieta, after a ride through Bergara the next climb starts – Elosua (Elosa). Both Karabieta and Elosua were used in the Vuelta 2011 stage to Vitoria-Gasteiz, but they were way far out from the finish. Elosua is technically the hardest and possibly the highest climb (or tied with the nex climb) of the day with 7km at a very regular 7,7% (max 10-11%), which is one of the two cat. 1 climbs of the day. A quite technical descent (over the Urola valley) leads to the town of Azkoitia. From Azkoitia there are roughly 7km of valley ride through Azkoitia, Loiola (home to the eponymous sanctuary) and Azpeitia. In Azpeitia starts the final climb of the day – Urraki.


Profile of Elosua.


Basilica de Loiola.

At first i was thinking of Santa Ageda east, which is quite demanding – roughly 7,5km at 7,8% including a small descent from Bidania. However, i had problems linking it with anything else, as east of Tolosa there's not much. Urraki west is only slightly easier, while having fine tie-ins with Elosua and Azurki.

Urraki starts quite tough with 2km at 9% (max 11%). Then it continues with 7% for a while, but the higher it is, the easier it gets. Last 2km are mostly a 5% grind. Overall, it's the 2nd cat. 1 climb of the day with 8,5km at 7%. This can either invite early action on the climb or kill it with easier last kms. Considering that it's the last possible chance of a GC shake-up it should be ridden very hard.


Profile of Urraki.

The descent to Tolosa (including a small bump of Bidania) is quite steep, mostly at 8-10%. It's wide and not technical, but there are a bunch of sweepers and false-turns, so it's not a 100% power descent. Last 2,5km in the Oria valley are flat. The finish line is on San Frantzisko Pasealekua Ibilbidea at the end of a 320m straight. I've chosen Tolosa not only because it's nicely linked to Urraki, but also because it's one of the prettiest towns of the Basque valeys of Gipuzkoa with a number of XVII c. "basque baroque" monuments like Iglesia de Santa Maria, town hall, Aramburu, Atodo and Idiáquez palaces. Tolosa was a stage finish at least twice in pre-1970 Vuelta and i thought at least once in the 70's, but i couldn't find it.



Finish in Tolosa.


Tolosa.

I assume Elosua and Urraki will be pretty crowded knowing the Basque fans, especially if somebody from their home turf like Landa is in podium/winning contention. The roads are thankfully wide, so there should be plenty of space for the crowds. The only narrower bit is the climb to Azurki.

Because it's the last stage, where anything regarding GC can happed, i wonder if there might be some potential moves allready on Elosua, as it's technically harder than Urraki. However, for it to work the attacker will need some help ("satelites") in the 7km valley ride between the climbs. The breakaway should be relatively big, as it's highly probable it's their last chance to win a stage and also there are plenty of points to the KOM competition if it's still unresolved. I expect the time splits between the groups to be relatively large.

The last stags is probably a sprint fanfare, but there's a small but quite steep bump near the finish line. Also, it's not in Madrid.
Great Job, nice route!
 

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