Stage 17: Unquera–Lagos de Covadonga
It’s probable that a breakaway group of decent climbers will form in the opening two hours before they reach the heart of the stage.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Up to the Picos de Europa
This is the first of two extremely mountainous stages, this one in the Picos de Europa above the Cantabrian coast, the second in the Asturias. Together, they will decide who’s going to finish on the final podium. The chances are that the favorites will be content to mark each other on this stage, knowing that tomorrow is the really big day. With that in mind, it’s probable that a breakaway group of decent climbers will form in the opening two hours before they reach the heart of the stage: two laps of a 42-kilometer circuit that includes the massive climb of La Collada Llomena. This Cat. 1 ascent is only 7.6 kilometers long, but it averages over 9 percent and has more than 2 kilometers of grades as high as 14 percent.
The second lap will see just the strongest survive in the break, while severely thinning out the peloton. Then comes a 30-kilometer downhill approach to the stage’s classic finale up to the Lagos de Covadonga—that’s 12.5 kilometers long with an erratic collection of gradients from below 4 percent to over 10 percent. It’s a stage that could well favor climbers who are out of contention on GC, perhaps Mark Padun of Bahrain-Victorious, Jay Vine of Alpecin-Fenix, or Aleksandr Vlasov of Astana-Premier Tech.