The second week of the Vuelta a España closed out with another relentless day of climbing in the Asturias region, this time culminating atop the daunting Alto de la Cubilla climb.
Dubbed the ‘Galiber of the Asturias,’ the Cubilla grinds up for 17.8km, with an average gradient of 6.2 per cent to an altitude of 1,700 metres, where the mist and cold welcomed riders at the finish of stage 16.
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The stage was won by Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang, breaking clear near the top of the climb and riding alone to the line to a hugely impressive win, as a the general classification battle played out further down the road.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) further cemented his position as race leader and the favourite for the overall, as Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Tadej Pogačar continued to fight for a podium spot and the young rider’s classification.
But it was UAE Team Emirates rider Pogačar who put in the most impressive performance on Strava.
The emerging Slovenian star claimed the Strava King of the Mountain on the full climb, riding the full 17km in 41-41, at an average speed of 25.3km/h.
Pogačar’s power data is also pretty staggering, as he held 357 watts for the duration of the climbing, hitting a maximum effort of 926w, which carried him to 14th on the stage, the first of the GC riders, but wasn’t enough to distance López.
The second fastest rider, according to the social media for athletes, was world champion Alejandro Valverde, who rose to the top in 42-06 with an average speed of 25km/h.
Movistar’s Valverde also put out a higher average power than his young rival, holding 365w to the summit.
The Spaniard struggled on the climb as Roglič rode away from him, eventually finishing 18th on the stage and losing just over seconds to the red jersey.
British rider James Knox also put in a memorable ride on the Cubilla, having made it into a powerful breakaway group early in the day.
Knox (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was the 11th fastest rider on the Strava segment in 45-04, with an average speed of 23.4km/h and an average power of 319w.
Unfortunately, the 23-year-old was unable to fight for stage victory, eventually finishing fourth on the stage, but his best result in a Grand Tour.
Breakaway artist Thomas De Gendt was also there in the final, but didn’t have the legs to steal another famous victory.
His Strava stats reveal the Belgian Lotto-Soudal rider climbed in 46-33, making him 13th on the leaderboard.
De Gendt also averaged 359w on the climb, which carried him up the ascent at 22.6km/h and put him sixth on the stage.