03/09 - Stage 12 - Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra to Lleida - 173 km
The sprinters haven’t had many chances in this year’s Vuelta a España. Today, however, is one of the rare days where a bunch sprint seems inevitable. From the start, the first 35 km are downhill. Even though this stage should end in a sprint, we can expect lots of attacks. If a break hasn’t been established on the downhill section, it will happen on Coll de Bóixols. This category 2 climb is 15.8 km long and has an average gradient of 5 %. The steepest parts are at the bottom and on the final kilometers towards the top.
After a long descent of nearly 60 km - only interrupted by a few short uphill parts - the riders take on an uncategorized climb, which has it tops about 50 km from the finishing line. There are a few steep parts but it’s nothing that should ruin the sprinter’s chances. The intermediate sprint is located in Gerb with just 29.7 km left to go. From here, the peloton continues southwest towards Lleida.
As you can see below, the run-in is mostly straight-out on good roads. The last roundabout comes just as the riders enter the last kilometer. Soon after, it’s slightly uphill over the railroads before a short descent leads the peloton to the final stretch towards the finishing line. Here, it’s very important to time your sprint perfectly. As the riders will discover, the last 600 meters are actually uphill with about 3-4 %. If you start your sprint too early, you can easily end up paying for it at end.