Vuelta a España 2022, stage 17
Distance: 162.3 kilometres
Start location: Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Finish location: Monasterio de Tentudía
Start time: 12.05 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.18 BST
The race moves further north and west into the more verdant province of Huelva for Stage 17, which begins in the town of Aracena, the largest town within the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche natural park, home to a wide range of species and lauded for its biodiversity
Interestingly, with its visit to the Huelva province, the 2022 Vuelta becomes the first in the race’s history to ride through all 8 provinces of Andalucia. Aracena itself is a small town with a prominent hilltop castle and a church its focal points, along with a spectacular underground cave complex. It makes its debut appearance at the race.
After a day on the flats, the race returns to the more familiar undulating terrain of La Vuelta, with a stage that is defined as flat with an uphill finish. Reading the description in the roadbook though, the riders may feel somewhat hard done by as they traverse repeated ups and downs and encounter almost no flat roads throughout the day.
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 17 map and profile
The route heads north at first, leaving Andalucia and entering the rugged and rural province of Bajadoz, with the peloton travelling downhill for the first 25km or so, which could lead to a chaotic start and a real battle for the breakaway on what could be a day for the baroudeurs.
With the race entering the region of Extremadura, the climate could prove as challenging as the parcours, with the dream of coastal breezes a distant memory. The route moves east before turning south towards the town of Calera de León, via an intermediate sprint in Segura de León.
From Calera de León, a town with a multitude of religious monuments, the route turns south as the stage heads to its final destination, the monastery of Tentudía. The ascent up to the monastery is classified as second category, but its vital statistics don’t really explain the reality of the climb. Listed as a 10.3km climb with a 5% average gradient, the effort doesn’t sound too daunting. However, with a short flat and even a downhill section in the middle of the climb, it’s the beginning and the end that will prove the most challenging, and with the non-climbing segments skewing the overall average. The final 4.3km averages just over 7%, and with ramps of up to 12%, it will be a real test for the legs of those looking to contest for the stage win.
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 17 prediction and contenders
The stage marks a golden opportunity for a breakaway. With few chances remaining, and arguably too many altitude metres for the pure sprinters, especially with the steep finish, a valuable win is up for grabs. Expect a major scrap for the early break, and a punchy final charge up to the monastery.
This kind of finish would have been ideal for Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but the former Vuelta winner was forced to retire from the race after his unfortunate crash on stage 16. If the breakaway aren’t able to get away, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) may look at it as a chance to secure a stage win in his final season of racing.
Valverde's teammate, Enric Mas, is also suited to the finish here, as is Quentin Pacher of Groupama-FDJ. Ben O'Connor of AG2R Citroën Team is another rider who could fancy his chances, and Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) could be a strong bet if he makes it to the breakaway. Jesús Herrada of Cofidis has won a stage at this Vuelta already and could go for a second one today and Daryl Impey of Israel - Premier Tech is another rider who could challenge for the win. Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers) could be released from domestique duties today and also have a chance at going for a stage victory as could Marc Soler of UAE Team Emirates.
Prediction: We're betting on Marc Soler to get in the right breakaway and take the win on today's summit finish.