Volta a Portugal would not be the same thing without the ascent to Torre! This Thursday, the only hors category of the Volta a Portugal will be awaiting the peloton to arrive, just two days after having faced Senhora da Graça. The candidates to the overall classification must not make any mistake. And it is the moment for a rider to make history on the race, in one of those stages that climbers dream of winning.
Guarda welcomes the start of this stage that is the shortest of this Special Edition of the race, with 148 kilometers. The riders may start with a descend, but the second category in Penhas Douradas will be a first test to their physical condition. However, the most important attacks are likely to be taken during the last 20 km, through Covilhã, the most difficult side of the ascent to Torre.
With four stages still to go, it cannot be said that Serra da Estrela will decide the winner, but it may put out of the list of candidates a cyclist who does not present himself in the best condition, which we already witnessed. Gustavo Veloso, for example, knows well how Serra da Estrela can be tricky. He, despite having his teammate from W52-FC Porto as leader of the Volta, is still in a good position, being a major weapon for the team, from a tactical point of view.
Amaro Antunes even knows how it is like to win a stage in Serra da Estrela. However, in 2017, the stage went by but did not end at the highest point, in Torre. The rider from Algarve will have the opportunity to try to win the two most important climbs in the history of the Volta a Portugal, but Frederico Figueiredo (Atum General-Tavira-Maria Nova Hotel) will have a word to say, he who likes this kind of ascents.
But it will be a very important day for Efapel. Senhora da Graça did not go the right way for Joni Brandão and his teammates, who must win back the 1m20s minute they have lost to get back into the fight for the yellow jersey. The same thing happens for Vicente García de Mateos, with Aviludo-Louletano having to show much better performance if he wants to put the Spaniard back on the final podium. He is 1m25s away from the leader.
João Benta will be one of the biggest concerns of Rádio Popular-Boavista, as he has his eyes on the podium. However, the team still has Hugo Nunes as mountain leader, a jersey that they will want to try to keep on their side.
However, Serra da Estrela is not only for the riders fighting for the yellow jersey. There will be those who will go after the stage victory. Henrique Casimiro (Kelly-Simoldes-UDO), Ricardo Vilela, or maybe his teammate from Burgos-BH, José Neves, (somewhat discreet until now), are possible options.
A bit of history
In the peloton, there is only one cyclist who won in Torre, because, have in mind, not always the stage of Serra da Estrela has finished there at the top. In 2019 João Rodrigues started to show he was a candidate to win a stage at the Volta that he would eventually conquer. In 2008 and 2014 Rui Sousa was the winner. Going back to 2000, was a remarkable year for Vítor Gamito, as not only he won in the Tower but he would finally conquer the Volta.
Among the international riders, we have well-known names from other times, such as the Spanish David Blanco (2010) and Santiago Pérez (2001), Claus Moller (2002), and the Italian Wladimir Belli (1998).
1997 was a very special year. They did not finish only once in Torre, as there were two consecutive finishes there. It was a 14 stages race and in the seventh (start at Portalegre, 186.6 kilometers) and eighth (start at Belmonte, 113.8) the peloton had to climb to the highest point in mainland Portugal. The Italians Francesco Secchiari and Michele Laddomada were the winners of the two stages.
This Thursday, the start will take place at Parque Urbano do Rio Diz, in Guarda, at 12h55, with the finish in Torre expected to happen between 17h15 and 17h30.