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Preview La Vuelta España Femenina: Stage 8

News and racing

The final stage of La Vuelta is short, less than 90km, but includes two Category 1 climbs that will decide the classification.

Abby Mickey

Stage 8: Distrito Telefónica to Valdesquí Comunidad de Madrid (89.5 km)

When: Sunday May 5

Where to watch: 🇬🇧🇪🇺 Discovery +/Eurosport, 🇺🇸 Peacock, 🇨🇦 FloBikes, 🇦🇺 SBS

When to watch: 🇬🇧 11am BST, 🇪🇺 12pm CEST, 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 6am EDT, 🇦🇺 9pm AEST

Phase type: Big mountains

What to expect: A final battle for red.

Summary stage:

The Vuelta ends on Sunday, but not before the peloton climbs a few more mountains. The final stage of the race is short, just 89.5km, but features two Category 1 climbs, so it won’t be the old Madrid Criteria.

After leaving the headquarters of Spanish telecom company Telefónica (talk about product placement), the peloton will race 18km for the first uncategorized climb of the day. The 8km climb is gradual, with a peak of 7% but an average of 1.6% and a few dips, so it’s not a challenge but rather a chance to attack before the big climbs later.

The road leading to the first categorized climb of the day involves a 7km descent and then levels out near the base of the climb, so the run-up will be quick.

Puerto de la Morcuera is the first category 1 climb – 9.1 km average 6.8%. It was a large group that we saw coming over the top of the Category 2 climb on stage 5, a stage with a similar profile but this one being considerably more difficult. As they reach the top, the roads begin to climb to almost 11%.

The peloton then descends for about 12 km on a two-lane technical road before almost immediately starting to climb again. On Thursday we saw groups coming back together between climbs, but that won’t happen on Sunday. The circulation between the climbs is limited and with a harder climb preceding it, it will be a smaller group that arrives together at the base of the final climb.

There will certainly be fireworks on the first climb, think of Kasia Niewiadoma’s attack during stage 7 of the Tour de France last year. Anyone hoping to gain a lead on the final climb should try to get away from the entire first climb, or even the descent.

The final climb to Valdesqui is 12.8 km long and averages 4.8%, including the flat part to the line after the top of the climb. It is undoubtedly the less challenging of the two, but coming second on the day, the legs will be tired as soon as they reach the first slopes. The most challenging route starts 9 km from the finish and lasts approximately 7 km. That one sector scores an average of 7% with pitches above 10%.

Overall, the final stage will be the toughest of this year’s Vuelta – with two brutal climbs and many riders looking to change their rankings in the general classification, this stage is a must watch.

My choice: After her impressive performance in Stage 5, I can’t choose anyone other than Vollering. She will want to consolidate her victory with another stage win after missing stage 6, and project her authority in the race she just lost to Annemiek van Vleuten in 2023.

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