Vuelta a España 2022, stage 16
Distance: 189.4 kilometres
Start location: Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Start time: 11.45 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.30 BST
Following a desperately needed rest day, the Vuelta a España 2022 begins again with a flat stage that will likely be contested as a bunch sprint, between any fast men who have managed to make it over the challenging climbs of the previous weekend.
Remaining in southern Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalucía, the final week starts further west, with a stage that travels around the city of Sevilla. The race begins in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the province of Cádiz, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. Historically significant as the landing site for the first person to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1522, the Vuelta visits the town for the first time.
Leaving the coast, the route takes the peloton inland into the province of Sevilla, travelling north-west for 40km and then pretty much straight north for the next 100km. There is next to nothing in the way of climbing which will come as a welcome relief following the exertions on the Sierra Nevada.
The route turns south towards Sevilla with around 40km left to race, with an intermediate sprint and bonus seconds available in the town of Alcalá del Rio, before heading towards the finish town of Tomares, a suburb west of Sevilla separated from the city by the Guadalquivir. Sevilla itself is the largest city in the Andalucía region, and offers a slice of quintessential Spain, famous for its flamenco dancing, impressive architecture and traditional Spanish cuisine.
Tomares hosts a stage finish for the second time. Matteo Trentin sprinted to victory there in 2017, and the finish suits the style of sprinter who can handle a few lumps and bumps, as with 10km to go there are a couple of climbs which, while uncategorised, could pose a few problems for those with tired legs.
The first of these is 1.5km in length, rising at a 6.1% average gradient. The second arrives just before 3km to go, and is a short, punchy kicker, leading into the home straight which continues to travel slightly uphill on a false flat.
It could be one of those finely poised peloton versus breakaway days, but with the right group up the road, it could be a chance for a wily escape artist to claim a precious Grand Tour stage win to add to their palmarès. Relatively speaking it’s late in the day for the sprinters, who will be carrying tired legs from the rigours of the previous 15 days of racing.
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 16 map and profile
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 16 profile
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 16 map
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 16 predictions and contenders
Recognised as the least sprinter-friendly of the Grand Tours, the Vuelta has this year made the final week more appealing than previous editions by including two fast finishes, including the final stage in Madrid. Whether this will be enough to entice the fast men to stick around is uncertain.
With Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Gerben Thijssen (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) all out of the race, the field has already been significantly reduced, and with the green jersey looking set to go home to Denmark with Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen, the question will be over whether there is enough firepower left in the few remaining sprinters’ teams to hold back a determined breakaway. Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Bora Hansgrohe’s lead-out deluxe Danny Van Poppel may also fancy their chances. Belgian champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will hope to finally take his chance after tough Vuelta for him so far.
Prediction: After his impressive sprint victory on stage 11, we think Kaden Groves will emerge victorious from the remaining sprinters.