Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease A Bike), Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and the other top contenders in the upcoming O Gran Camiño stage race will face a toughened-up route this year including a double ascent of the daunting Monte Aloia.
The early season four-day Galician race in NW Spain revealed its race route this week, with a short technical time trial on February 22 through the streets of A Coruña kicking off the action, and some very hilly challenges on stage 2. But it is the showdown finale on stage 4 and the ascent of the seven-kilometre cat. 1 Aloia climb which particularly catches the eye.
Often used in the now-defunct Vuelta a Galicia, the predecessor of O Gran Camiño, Monte Aloia in the Tui National Park was once the scene of victories for riders of the calibre of 1990s Italian star Claudio Chiappucci, Swiss allrounder Fabian Jeker and Spanish Tour de France stage winner Marcos Serrano.
This year, Vingegaard returns to defend his 2023 overall title, which he won along with all three stages last February.
Apart from Aloia, the other significant change compared to the first two editions of the race is the shift in position of Camiño’s individual time trial, from the last day to the first.
The stage 1 race against the clock runs entirely along the seafront in the city of A Coruña, with some technical segments, a small climb mid-way through and a finish outside the Torre de Hercules lighthouse.
With over 3,000 metres of climbing, stage 2 takes O Gran Camiño deep inland to the province of Lugo. The double ascent of the cat. 2 Alto de San Pedro de Lincora, the second time around peaking out just a handful of kilometres away from the finish in Chantada, could make this another major GC day.
Stage 3 while hilly, has most of its climbing difficulties early on. Only the Cat. 3 climb of Alto de Couso, around 15 kilometres to go, could prevent the fastmen from having their turn to shine in the finish Castelo de Ribadavia.
Stage 4 is a very different story, with everything to play for in the last 100 kilometres. Running entirely through the mountains of southwest Galicia, the Cat. 2 of Alto de San Cosme acts as an appetizer for the double ascent of the cat. 1 climb of Monte Aloia. Never dropping below 9.5% in the final three kilometres, four ramps of between 18% and 20% should provide a blastoff point for what is set to be one of the toughest early season events in Europe this spring. And as Jonas Vingegaard’s first summit finish of 2024, how the final battle of the 2024 O Gran Camiño develops on the slopes of Mount Aloia will be of even greater interest.
O Gran Camiño 2024 – route
- Thursday February 22: Stage 1: A Coruña-Torre de Hercules – A Coruña-Torre de Hercules 14.8 km (ITT)
- Friday February 23: Stage 2: Taboada – Chantada 151.7km
- Saturday February 24: Stage 3: Xinzo de Limia – Castelo de Ribadavia 173.1km
- Sunday February 25: Ponteaereas – Monte Aloia 162.2km