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Vuelta a España Vuelta a España 2023, stage 16: Liencres Playa - Bejes, 120.1k

After Jumbo making the Vuelta look like a race of men against boys on a mountain stage designed for men, here we have a mountain stage that feels like it's designed for boys. That being said, we do have a scenic route and a solid MTF, so it isn't all bad.

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There are two ways of getting from the start in Liencres Playa to the bottom of the MTF: through the mid-mountains (the descent of Collado de la Hoz, the climb immortalised by Contador in 2012, ends literally at the crossroads where the MTF starts), or along the coast through easy terrain. Because climbs before the MTF are clearly overrated, we got the latter option.

And so, it's a slightly rolling trek through coastal towns, many of which may seem familiar. Torrelavega is the hometown of Óscar Freire which hosted the main TT in 2018, Suances saw an uphill sprint won by Roglic in 2020, Santillana del Mar is located right next to the famous Altamira caves and was the start of the aforementioned TT, the Gaudí town of Comillas hosted the start of the Sotres MTF stage in 2015, San Vicente de la Barquera was the start of a stage into Oviedo in 2019, and Unquera was the departure point of the epic Covadonga stage of 2021. In other words, this is very frequently-used terrain for the race.

In Unquera, which is also the intermediate sprint location, we turn away from the coast to head towards the La Hermida gorge. Midway through said gorge, in the tiny eponymous village, two roads join the gorge road: one from Hoz, one towards Bejes, and it is the latter that this stage is all about. This climb features some pretty serious ramps. As you can see from the profile below, the full climb is a (perhaps logistically infeasible) monster, however here we only get to see its first 4.9 kilometres (at an 8.4% average, but that includes over a kilometre of false flat), stopping some way short of Bejes itself in between the junction to La Quintana and the bridge over the Rio de Corvera. This means that we have a 1.6k ramp at a little over 11% ending just 400 metres from the line, before the gradient tails off to about 8% from there until the line. In other words, still pretty suitable for legitimate GC action even though they've made the stage as easy as possible.
SaltoDeLaCabra.gif
 
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There are two ways of getting from the start in Liencres Playa to the bottom of the MTF: through the mid-mountains (the descent of Collado de la Hoz, the climb immortalised by Contador in 2012, ends literally at the crossroads where the MTF starts), or along the coast through easy terrain. Because climbs before the MTF are clearly overrated, we got the latter option.
Unipublic was a big fan of the three-consecutive-hard-mountain-stages formula, but year after year they saw that this did not deliver any good.
That's why they removed San Miguel de Aralar from stage 15.
Stage 16, coming before the two Asturian stages, was expected to be as flat as you can get in Cantabria. However, the politician paying the bill wanted a MTF, so Unipublic had to concede and "flat" unipuerto we have.

The start of the climb comes at a 180º turn, so we will probably see a full speed fight for position followed by a traffic jam.
 
This means that we have a 1.6k ramp at a little over 11% ending just 400 metres from the line, before the gradient tails off to about 8% from there until the line. In other words, still pretty suitable for legitimate GC action even though they've made the stage as easy as possible.
SaltoDeLaCabra.gif
the Climbfinder profile doesn't have that steep stretch in the end, or at least not this long:

hc64akJ.png


But no idea which one is more accurate..
 
So the decisive part of the race is almost underway! I wouldn't expect fireworks tomorrow but some super short-lasting Ayuso attack is possible. After 5 seconds he will turn back, see Rogla and say "f**k it, I can't even pee without this guy behind".

Big plus: the great scenery of Picos de Europa! It's also a nice hiking area.
 
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the Climbfinder profile doesn't have that steep stretch in the end, or at least not this long:

hc64akJ.png


But no idea which one is more accurate..
whoa, breathtaking scenery! Cant wait
 
the Climbfinder profile doesn't have that steep stretch in the end, or at least not this long:

hc64akJ.png


But no idea which one is more accurate..
Climbfinder has quite a few automatically generated profiles based on elevation data, the bumpiness of this one suggests this is one such example and those are never that accurate.

And just to make sure - the APM profile does have the sustained steep stretch.
SaltoCabra.gif


The same appears to be true for the RCC one.
Salto%20de%20la%20Cabra%20perfil.jpg
 
Unipublic was a big fan of the three-consecutive-hard-mountain-stages formula, but year after year they saw that this did not deliver any good.
That's why they removed San Miguel de Aralar from stage 15.
Stage 16, coming before the two Asturian stages, was expected to be as flat as you can get in Cantabria. However, the politician paying the bill wanted a MTF, so Unipublic had to concede and "flat" unipuerto we have.

The start of the climb comes at a 180º turn, so we will probably see a full speed fight for position followed by a traffic jam.
I would have sacrificed the third stage, with the finish in Oviedo after Cruz de Linares (opposite side) - Tenebredo - Piedramuelle.
 
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Climbfinder has quite a few automatically generated profiles based on elevation data, the bumpiness of this one suggests this is one such example and those are never that accurate.
could very well be the case, yeah. And having another look, even on their profile, the ~250m before and after seem to be the steeper parts of the 500m stretches. So that would probably add up to 1k at >10% as well.