Vuelta a España 2012, Stage 14 profile
Today´s route leaves Galicia for El Bierzo in León, and ends with a perch on the Leonese-Asturian border at Puerto de Ancares.
The five categorized climbs will be the first trial by fire for the favorites in the fateful triduum of mountain stages that begins today.
Bierzo is a world apart with its own language, the dialecto berciano, a form of Galician. Historically, the land was a crossroads for Celtic and Roman cultures, the influences of which can be seen today , for instance, in distinctive round houses known as pallozas, of pre-Roman Celtic orgin, in the macabre silouettes of the Roman gold mines at Las Médulas, and in place names like the nearby city of Astorga (Asturica Augusta).
The region also figures in a book by Robert Graves, The Islands of Unwisdom, a story of the explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neirato who discovered the Solomon Islands in 1568. Contemporary Berciano author Eugenio González Nuñez, who shares a birthplace (Congosto) with the explorer, has also written a beautiful account of the explorer: Álvaro de Mendaña y Neyra: Berciano, Hidalgo y soñador.
All eyes were turned to Bierzo when Alberto Contador won the 2010 edition of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Contador clinched the overall victory over Igor Antón in the time trial at Ponferrada, possibly an auspicious win, since Ponferrada will be the scene of the World Championships in 2014. The course for both the ITT and road race in 2014 will favor climbers.
Neutral start of today´s stage is at 13:20. Racing begins at 13:32.
Atlas index to Vuelta a España stages: