Senhora da Graça. If there is a mythical climb in Volta a Portugal it is this one, of course along with the Serra da Estrela. But there was always something special about Monte Farinha and the cyclists feel it too. This year it comes up a little earlier in the Volta a Portugal. Quite early, right on the third day. It may not be decicive, but it has the potential for those who have a bad day, to lose time that will be difficult to recover. Whether you are a candidate for the general classification or not, everyone wants to win there. This could definitely make the second stage of the Volta a very lively day.
The final eight kilometres or so, with maximum percentages of almost 10% and minimum of six, are “just” the culmination of a very complicated stage that will leave cyclists already a bit tired when they get to Mondim de Basto and look up there, with the sanctuary looking so far away.
Paredes, the place that recently hosted the cycling Nationals, will be the perfect stage for the start of the 167 km. Shortly after, Rebordosa will present a fourth category climb. But this will only be the warm up. Serra do Marão and Barreiro are two of the first category climbs, as is Senhora da Graça. Half-way through the stage, another fourth category clim, at Velão. In Barreiro there is also the pavée, at the start of another climb. Fortunately, the weather will be nice.
This Tuesday’s stage will be the first opportunity to define the general classification a little better. Gustavo Veloso will have a test of leadership, he who won there in 2016, in the first of four consecutive W52-FC Porto victories: Raúl Alarcón won in 2017 and 2018 and António Carvalho last year, who now is in team Efapel, where Joni Brandão has seven seconds to make up for lost time in Fafe’s prologue. But Carvalho is also only six. There are two teams that at this mountain stage will want to start establishing themselves.
And Efapel also has good memories of Senhora da Graça. In 2015, Filipe Cardoso – who retired at the end of 2019 – achieved one of the best moments of his career by breaking away and reaching the finish line before being catched by his opponents. Behind him was Joni Brandão, who, as a good team mate, did not take his victory. His fight was for the general classification.
Back to 2020, Vicente García de Mateos (Aviludo-Louletano) is 12 seconds away from a long dreamed leadership. Whereas at Senhora da Graça, Frederico Figueiredo (Tuna General-Tavira-Maria Nova Hotel) will himself in a place that he enjoys more, after having lost 23 seconds in the prologue.
However, if there is something good in Senhora da Graça, from the perspective of those who watch, it is that being a candidate does not guarantee anything. Surprises happen and there are many cyclists who can get in the way of a stage victory, especially in teams that are in the Volta with these goals instead of the general classification.
And Hernâni Brôco can try to lead one of his LA Alumínios-LA Sport cyclists to victory. After all, he knows well what it is like to win in Senhora da Graça.
The peloton leaves at 12:30 from Paredes, and is scheduled to arrive at Senhora da Graça between 17:25 and 17:45.