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Vuelta a España Vuelta a España 2023, stage 20: Manzanares El Real - Guadarrama, 207.8k

The most experimental final mountain stage in the Vuelta where it’s going to matter the least.

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The stage is as sawtooth as you’ll ever see in a GT, with no fewer than ten categorised climbs. The first of these teeth, Collado del Portazgo, is the easiest, and comprises the first 11.6k of the profile below.
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After the only longer valley section of the day (about 15k), it’s time for the northeastern side of Puerto de La Cruz Verde.
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Next up is a circuit that is repeated twice. It takes the riders over La Escondida…
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…the uncategorised Alto de La Paradilla (the first 2.5k of the profile below)…
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…Santa Maria de la Alameda…
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…and Alto de Robledondo.
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After the circuit, it’s a trek over the uncategorised Alto de San Antonio (steeper than any of the eight preceding categorised climbs)…
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…and Puerto de La Cruz Verde, this time from its southeastern side (first 11.4k of the profile below)…
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…before the final, and hardest, climb of the day: Alto San Lorenzo de El Escorial. This can be seen as an extended version of the 2011 Vuelta HTF, or the first part of the 00s Abantos MTFs.
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All that remains after that is a short descent and an equally-short flat.
 
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Discarding everything that's happened in this Vuelta so far (all the drama, the performances, the whole lot), if someone asked before the race "which two stages on paper look the worst for Sepp Kuss?", I'd have said the ITT &... this one. Stage 20. Aka the classics stage.

It's punchy. It's up & down constantly. It's long. Now I'm 99% sure he'll be fine, but... I think Kuss & Jumbo would have preferred a 200km mountain stage with two or 3 cat 1 cols over what we have here.
 
Really hate how it’s the good decisions that Unipublic have made in this route design being the ones that are not working out due to them coming late in the race. Probably means we’re going to get a much more typical, and therefore worse, route next year, sadly.
I believe that even numbered years have worse routes than odd ones regardless of the racing. So we're in for a worse route next year.
 
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I honestly dont believe that much in racing quality affecting route design as early ss one year later
There are many examples that go against your theory. AdH 2011, as frequently and extensively documented by Libertine, kickstarted the ongoing flurry of short mountain stages. The 2012 Vuelta led Unipublic to design a series of ridiculously MTF-centric routes. RCS learned all the right lessons from the awful MTF-centric 2014 Giro route producing awful racing in designing the beautiful, no-HC-MTFs 2015 Giro route. The Tour did two stage 20 TTs in a row after PdBF 2020 when the 2015-2019 period had only one such TT. And so on.
 
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The Vuelta for all its many, many route design flaws (and let's face it, there are LOTS), has finally stopped just going "ANGLIRU AT THE END OMG" and produced some pretty good stage 20s in recent years in terms of courses that allow for good potential action while not neutering earlier action. 2021's Galician climb with the Supermán tantrum, 2019's long range baiting Gredos stage and 2015's medium mountains in the Sistema Central, and now this.

Sadly due to the circumstances of the race, I'm really not interested in watching.
 
There are many examples that go against your theory. AdH 2011, as frequently and extensively documented by Libertine, kickstarted the ongoing flurry of short mountain stages. The 2012 Vuelta led Unipublic to design a series of ridiculously MTF-centric routes. RCS learned all the right lessons from the awful MTF-centric 2014 Giro route producing awful racing in designing the beautiful, no-HC-MTFs 2015 Giro route. The Tour did two stage 20 TTs in a row after PdBF 2020 when the 2015-2019 period had only one such TT. And so on.
Thanks for ending one of the few non negative takes I had left about route designs. I have a reputation to maintain after all
 
Unipublic should have placed this stage before so the Angliru would have been the decisive final stage..... even when the GC is already decided, at least it would have provided a better final show....

I mean, what can we expect when Prudhomme is behind the scenes laying out "balanced Grand Tours" ?

Anyways, I bet Remco is going for the stage win while everyone else is sitting behind JVT setting the tempo & escorting Sepp to the finish line.
 
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I think Remco can do a job on the whole peloton here.
Predicting Remco to win the stage by 2mins from the GC group.

Beating the GC group by 2 minutes might not be enough for the stage win though.

I think even Bora/UAE/Bahrain (to name the 3 strongest non-Jumbo teams) would just look for riders in the break instead of controlling the main group as I think too many riders from other teams would want to be in the break.
 
I’m not confident that Landa, Mas, and Ayuso care that much about which of them gets 4th place on GC. But if they do care this would be a nice stage for battling each since only 30’ separates the three of them.

Maybe we need a jersey and podium presentation for best non-Jumbo rider? ;)
 
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Remco and Rogla ride clear and are a minute ahead by the finish. Rogla wins the sprint (no gifts, remember) and with the 10 second bonus, wins the Vuelta by a couple of seconds. He shrugs, and says…

”That’s what I do, eh?”

With the current mood Jumbo is in, I wouldn't put it past them to go all Rabobank on Rogla & fire him tomorrow evening before Madrid if that scenario actually happened.

Nah, I think he just wants to get this one finished & over with.
 
With the current mood Jumbo is in, I wouldn't put it past them to go all Rabobank on Rogla & fire him tomorrow evening before Madrid if that scenario actually happened.

Nah, I think he just wants to get this one finished & over with.
This would be best timeline. Rogla goes haywire on the hills in a two man break with Remco, wins the stage and takes the red jersey as a final massive FU to Niermann and co, Jumbo hold a crisis meeting after the stage where Niermann is forced to consult his PR guru (the comments section under Benji Naesen's tweets) and the course of action is to fire Primož on the spot, so he is unable to start stage 21. Kuss gets to win his GT, Rogla gets to show he's the strongest, Jumbo get an easier job managing their leaders going forward, Rogla goes and signs with somebody random like Movistar or Intermarché or something where he gets to lead anything he likes (he's an older rider who can win GCs in short stage races but mostly likes to sit on until the final kilometre on uphill finishes, Unzué would love him like a son), and the 2023 Vuelta finally has something worth remembering. Unipublic recall the absolute chaos of the 2021 and 2023 penultimate stages and start to deliver lots of difficult hilly and medium mountain stages that are difficult to control, improving the variety and quality of the race no end.

The internet explodes because all of the elements of chaos are in place: Jumbo failing to control their riders (and then overreacting afterward), Remco playing kingmaker in the José Recio role creating 8000 pages of discussion all of itself, and all the accompanying chaos à la Rasmussen or Supermán.

Maybe, just maybe, Kuss will be too upset to let Rogla get the front seat of the car and prove he's not too good for this world once and for all.
 

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