Puebla de Sanabria and Salamanca will take over from Porto. Mastosinhos and Viseu as the hosts of stages 15 and 16 of La Vuelta 20, respectively. Puebla de Sanabria will be the finish-line of stage 15, with a departure from Mos. Salamanca will host the departure of stage 16, with the finish-line in Ciudad Rodrigo and the entire day taking place within the Province of Salamanca.
Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 global health crisis and, following the impossibility of hosting La Vuelta 20 in Portugal under the best possible conditions, Unipublic has reconfigured the race’s route, replacing the two Portuguese host cities by Spanish ones.
Stage 15 (5/11) will depart from the Galician town of Mos and will find its finish-line in the Zamoran municipality of Puebla de Sanabria, replacing Porto. Matosinhos. On the other hand, Salamanca will be the departure point for stage 16 (6/11), replacing the Portuguese locality of Viseu, in a stage that will maintain its finish-line in Ciudad Rodrigo.
Puebla de Sanabria and Salamanca already have La Vuelta experience. The Zamoran locality was the finish-line for stage 7 in La Vuelta 16, where victory went to Belgian rider Jonas van Genechten. Salamanca has hosted 21 La Vuelta stage departures, the most recent one being in 2018 (stage 10), leaving from its Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza), and providing an iconic image in the history of La Vuelta.
Two very demanding stages
These changes will not only affect the host cities but also the stage profiles. Stage 15 will now become the edition’s longest stage, spanning over 234,6 km. “Judging by the type of route and by the length of the stage, it will be a favourable day for escapes to take place”, explained Fernando Escartín, Technical Director of La Vuelta. “It is a winding terrain and it’ll be difficult for the peloton to control those breakaways. Besides, contrary to what happened in 2016, this time Puebla de Sanabria will feature in the final week of the race, meaning teams will have much less energy”.
In the 16th stage, the third-last day of racing, Escartín focuses on the climb of El Robledo (Casares): “A 1st category climb 30 km from the finish-line will create a natural selection of the peloton. It is likely that a reduced group, made up of 30-40 riders, will arrive together. The riders fighting for GC will have to really concentrate, as a mistake so close to the end could cost them dearly”, he warns.