Vuelta a España 2012, Stage 15 profile
From La Robla, a new start town for La Vuelta, today the riders will cover what is one of the longest stage routes of this edition, to Lagos de Covadonga at 186.5 km.
Contador and his Asturian gregarios, Navarro and Noval, have commented that the day’s work will be somewhat less difficult than yesterday at Puerto de Ancares, or certainly tomorrow at Cuitu Negru. Nevertheless, the route slopes up steadily in the last 30 kilometers, with the final 13.5 km devoted to the hors categorie climb to the Lakes.
Today’s route is steeped in significance for Asturias, historically- and cultually-speaking. At Km 164.3, the riders will pass Cangas de Onis, the first royal seat of Spain, where Pelayo set up court after he and a ragged cohort of soldiers routed the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga, the epic 8th-century fight that initiated the Reconquista, on the mountain above.
After passing the Roman bridge, hung with a replica of the iconic Cruz de la Victoria – Pelayo’s battle standard – in Cangas de Onis, the historic battleground will become the scene of a crucial fight for the Vuelta 2012 victory. The Shrine to the Virgin of Covadona, the Virgin of the Cave who is the patron saint of Asturias and who helped Pelayo by causing the enemy’s arrows to reverse direction, killing the archers who had fired them, is located on the lower slopes of the climb proper, at Km 174.3.
Asturian rider Carlos Barredo scored one for God and country at Lagos in 2010. If another Asturian rider were to do that again today, it would have to be Navarro or Noval, since the noble Asturian peloton has shrunken to only four riders in WorldTour ranks, and neither Barredo nor Samuel Sánchez are participating in this Vuelta.
Contador has the advantage of Asturian patriotic fervor on his team however, as well as the know-how, so perhaps the magic of Covadonga will favor him.
Atlas index to Vuelta a España stages: