Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucía - Ruta del Sol 2022 (February 16-20)

The ultimate mid-mountain race, done wrong. Not a single flat stage, and aside from El Purche just after one of the starts, no big climbs either.


Stage 1

The combination of final climb and uncategorised ascent to the finish line is identical to the 2020 stage, won by Gonzalo Serrano.

Puerto de El Boyar:

Puerto de Algámitas:

Alto La Parrilla + finish (1.3k at 7.2%) - steepest part comes just before the line

Stage 2

This finish is unfortunately not the same as last year's, they finish at the bottom of the fortress rather than on top of it. Still a difficult one, though.

Alto del Higueral:

Puerto Sierra Cristina

Puerto Salto del Caballo

Alto de las Grajeras

Puerto del Castillo

Final climb: 3 km at 5.9% with the final 600 metres at 11.1%, the final 200 metres are on cobbles.

Stage 3

Alto del Higueral (inconveniently 3 kilometres from the eponymous climb used the day before)

Puerto del Morrón: the first 6.9k of the profile below (up to the junction to Montefrio), then another 1.5 km at 3.6% to the summit

Puerto de Tocon

Alto de Cacín: 4.0 km at 3.0% followed by the final 3.7k of the profile below

Alto de Ochíchar (this is the climb just before the intermediate sprint)

The final kilometres are rolling and, at times, very narrow and/or technical. We have 1.1 km at 3.3% ending with 700 metres to go, this is followed by a slight downhill, then finally turning right at just over 250 metres to go onto the wide final stretch, which averages 4.2%.

(stages 4 and 5 in a separate post due to image limit)
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Stage 4

Alto de el Purche (KOM at the first of the two summits):

Puerto de Blancares:

Puerto de Gorafe:

The remainder of the stage is rolling, the last bit of uphill ending at 4.8k from the line where the road turns to a gradual descent. The finish looks extremely messy once again. The downhill continues into false-flat to about a kilometre from the line, where they hit the first of three roundabouts in quick succession. They turn somewhat to the right here, then 90 degrees to the right at the second roundabout 300 metres further. The final roundabout, at 600 metres to go, will only be a 30-degree (but somewhat tight) left-hander onto a narrower road assuming they remove the traffic furniture (if not, it's a death trap). The road turns into a slight false-flat uphill right near the end (only at 1-2% though), turning a little to the left again at about 200 metres to go.

Stage 5

Puerto Fuente del Gallo + Puerto de Tíscar:

The uncategorised climb to La Iruela (the one in between the first and second intermediate sprint) is very hard. It's 2.2 km at 9.3%, but that's only half the story. With Google, I get the following numbers...
  • 410 metres at 5.6% on the main road
  • 560 metres at 12.5% turning into town - and even that section is irregular, based on Streetview - steepest pitch maybe at 20%?
  • 280 flat metres, through the centre of the town on a narrow road with urban cobbles, then a sharp turn left onto...
  • another 215 metres on cobbles at 11.6%, now narrow enough that two riders next to each other is already a tight squeeze
  • another 180 metres on an equally narrow road that is no longer cobbled, at 11.0%
  • the final 590 metres back on a wider road but still at 11.5%
Either way, next is the climb to Iznatoraf, the first 14.3 km of the profile below (up to the 1001 m marker):

And then finally the climb to Chiclana de Segura, the first 7.4k of the profile below:
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this route is utterly disappointing
They are bypassing so many good climbs in the second halves of stages... it's now completely reliant on racing from a long way out.

Some examples of what could have been (road surface permitting):

El Jaramillo (summit about 11 kilometres from the finish on Stage 1)

Hoya de Charilla-Collados de Frailes (summit is about 20 kilometres from the finish on stage 2)

And then Stage 5 is a travesty in general. There's a bunch of options, all of them starting after La Iruela. Even an alternative that follows most of the original route would be a major improvement, this starts with the following climb in between La Iruela and Iznatoraf...

...then takes the direct route from Iznatoraf to the start of the final climb. You can cut the distance from Iznatoraf by 11 kilometres by taking the J-6220, this adds the easy climb to Sorihuela del Guadalimar (4.6 km at 4.1%) to the route as well. This variant starts after Villanueva de Arzobispo, so it has the added bonus of replacing mostly flat with mostly hilly terrain.
Reactions: Sandisfan
Well, in a second or third week of a grand tour, every one of these stages would be a breakaway stage.

GC wise one can say that the last km of stage 2 and perhaps also stage 5 will create small differences.

Important will be, how the first hours of racing will be ridden. If we will see the standard procedure: Weak break goes, peleton rides a slow tempo, but enough to catch them in the end, all will come down to the last kms of stage 2 and stage 5. But if strong riders and teams will also ride pretty agressive in the beginning of the stages, then things can get interesting..
Reactions: Sandisfan