Well, yet again Purito follows Bertie. The battle between them is truly hotting up now. We're running out of stages. No!
Froome loses major time again, now at 2.16' to Valverde's 1.41' The expectations have lowered again, i think he's safe in 4th
22' Bertie will fight to the death, but it looks like Purito will do too. The attacks won't stop...
“At the start of the stage, I wasn't feeling very well so I told the guys not to make the race as hard as yeterday but then I saw when we started to push that people seemed a little tired so we decided to give it a go anyway. You can rest assure that I'll try at every chance I get from now on.
You never know when people have a bad day. Joaquin is riding stronger than ever while I might not be as strong as I could be because of my long break from racing. But I simply enjoy being here after too long time away from racing. It's amazing to feel the love and support from the crowd every day. Tomorrow, the goal is simple. I have to attack and keep attacking
so I hope to recover and be stronger than today,”
Stage 16. The last of these 3 major mountain stages before the rest day tomorrow, and the last before Bola, stage 20.
A snaggle-toothed stage that will go a long way towards consolidating the final top ten in the general classification. After an initial Cat 3 climb, the boys have to go over two punishing Cat 1s – the Puerto de San Lorenzo (10km, 8.5%) and Alto de la Cobertoria (8km, 8.6%) – before tackling the HC summit finish of Cuitu Negru (all 19.4km of it). This is the queen stage of this year’s Vuelta, the hardest stage of the race – in a race full of hard stages – that comes after two consecutive killer stages.
The final 3km may make grown men cry. In what has been a feature of this Vuelta, the stage winner has to take a deep breath and climb to the finish on gradients in the mid to high-teens with pitches of up to 25% in places. But of course! We know who loves gradients like that: Joaquim Rodriguez. If he can counter the inevitable attacks of Alberto Contador the way he has over the past two days then the Vuelta will be almost within his grasp.
Highest point: 1,850m
Category: High mountains
Third consecutive summit finish
After one of the Vuelta’s classic climbs comes the race’s latest epic ascent, the Cuitu Negru. It’s been dubbed ‘the Asturian Bola del Mundo’ as, in common with that climb north of Madrid, it’s a short but very steep extension to a road accessing a ski station, in this case Valgrande Pajares. With the tough San Lorenzo and Cobertoria passes to soften up the riders beforehand, this is rightly seen as the race’s queen stage. The final ascent gets harder from Brañillin, 3km from the top. The road, which is being resurfaced, then rises at an average of 13.5 per cent with pitches of 25 per cent. It’s a gruelling test suited to pure climbers.
Igor Anton: "The queen stage. This is the third consecutive mountain stage with a summit finish. It’s the hardest of the race and the last 3km on the Cuitu Negru average 14 per cent, after climbing three cat 1 passes that are as tough as any in Asturias."