After ten stages through the south and south-central part of Spain, the Vuelta de España finally arrived in Galicia. And what a difference it made. Viewers of the race on Eurosport must have been a bit weary of endless days watching cyclists travel through barren landscapes. Because of the climate, much of the southern part of Spain is arid. All the commentators mentioned the extreme heat of 40+ centigrade every day. The cyclists themselves in social media spoke of little else, just the need to constantly hydrate.
So cycling in Galicia came as a welcome change to everybody. Temperatures were constant around 25 Celsius, and the day had every type of weather possible. This included a lovely short sharp shower just 5km from the finish. The day was listed as medium mountains, but included 3200m of vertical gain in 207km, with just 11km of flat road. The first 73km taking the cyclists form Mombuey on the Castilla y Leon border to A Gudiña was on one road the N-525. 73km of rolling terrain with hardly any flat at all. The peloton covered it in just 90 minutes, an astonishing 48.3 km/h average, with no crashes and no punctures.
Vuelta de España – Cabeza de Manzaneda
As the raced turned inland, it skirted around the Cabeza de Manzeneda , Galicia´s highest summit climb. The route included the first 5km of the climb, and just this section was given a second degree category. At the finish line yesterday, the talk from the organisation was that Galicia could host up to five stage in next year´s Vuelta de España. And that one could finish at the Cabeza summit , last conquered by David Moncutié in 2011. The route then passed by the spectacular Cañones of the River Sil, possibly the most beautiful river valley in Spain. The helicopter shots were incredible. The finish in Luintra, a small town of just 1250 inhabitants, and estimates yesterday were of 10000 spectators at the finish. Oscar Pereiro, Galicia´s most famous cyclist oversees podium presentations at the Vuelta de España. It felt like the whole of Galicia had turned out at the finish to welcome him home.
Stage 12 Estaca de Bares
Today´s stage is in the extreme north Galicia. The finish at the Estaca de Bares lighthouse is Spain´s most northerly point. The forecast is for a 30km/h wind from the coast, and some light rain. With 2300m of climbing too, it could prove to be a tough stage for the riders. So, Galicia hosts two days of the race, and hopefully in next year´s Vuelta de España more than double that amount. The pros love the terrain, comparing it to the Ardennes classics such as Liege Bastogne Liege. That is a good comparison. So, come and see for yourselves. Try a cycling holiday in Galica and see what the pros are all raving about.