Stage 14 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana is required viewing. Even if you’re not a cycling fan — maybe stumbling upon this page while you were trying to google something like velvet, or velveeta or valeur sofas or something — tune in, because a stage like Saturday’s rarely ever gets this big.
Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, cycling’s two biggest stars, are having the duel many were hoping to see at the Tour de France in July. On Saturday, they tackle the Vuelta’s queen stage, a 196.1-kilometer ride from Urdax-Dantxarinea to Aubisque/Gourette that tackles three Category 1 climbs before finishing at the top of an Especial climb that is beyond categorization.
Subscribers to NBC Sports Gold can watch the stage from start to finish, beginning at 6 a.m. ET. A subscription also gives access to live tracking and commentary. Universal HD will show a replay of the stage from 7-9 p.m.
Stage 14 is primarily in France. Riders will cross the border after just a couple kilometer, then at the 50k mark start their first climb up the Col Inharpu. The second climb of the day up Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin is the longest. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same climb on which Froome throttled the 2015 Tour de France field and solidified the yellow jersey.
On Saturday, Col d’Aubisque is the main attraction at 17 kilometers at a roughly seven percent gradient. There are no flats or downhills to ease riders’ legs. In fact, the road inclines to 10 percent gradient at times.
Quintana is wearing the yellow jersey for now, and is riding as well in a grand tour as perhaps he ever has. Froome stole back seconds by beating him at Peña Cabarga during Stage 11, however, proving he too is in form. Quintana needs to keep a healthy lead on Froome, currently at 54 seconds, to mitigate the damage done during the Stage 19 time trial, which Froome is sure to dominate.
Vuelta a Espana Stage 14 profile
Profile courtesy of the Vuelta’s official site.
Vuelta a Espana coverage for Stage 14 on Saturday
Start time: 6:04 a.m. ET
Route: 196.1 kilometers from Urdax-Dantxarinea (Spain) to Aubisque/Gourette (France)
Live Streaming: NBC Sports Gold (subscription required), beginning at 6 a.m. ET
TV: Universal HD, 7-9 p.m. (replay)