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Stage 746 – Pueblade la Calzada to Merida

746 is an uphill stage that continues the journey east/north east away from the Portuguese border through Merida. The northern aspect of the route is important because at some point in the coming stages, the route will turn more purposefully north east towards Toledo and onwards towards Madrid. Although the stage is a climber, it’s one of those annoying stages that saves the worst of its payload for the second half: whereas the first half is a continuation of the constant slog that characterised the latter stages of stage 745, the second half of this stage drops three big climbs in the way. It will be a difficult end to a challenging stage.

The rollout east of Puebla de la Calzada crosses through a roundabout immediately after the start then continues on east to Torremayor at four miles. Those four miles are probably the flattest of the stage. The road loops around the south of the town, hanging a right/left/left/left/right set of bends before resuming a north easterly tack that crosses the Canal de Montijo at seven miles before rolling into La Garrovilla a mile later at the start of the first proper climb.

From La Garrovilla, the road rises almost a hundred and fifty feet to Esparragalejo two miles up the road. It then descends to cross the Rio Aljucen close to where it flows into the Guidana river but that merely sets a light under the second climb which begins immediately afterwards. On the eastern side of the crossing lies the town of Estacion de Aljucen and as the road heads east from there, it bends left before curving back right/left to cross the A-5 highway on the approach to the northern districts of Merida.

The road passes through Montealto and San Juan before hanging a sharp right/left/left after the Parque de Maria Auxiliadora at the foot of the second descent after seventeen miles. That leaves one more climb on a relatively straight north easterly run to the finish. With the Arroyo Albarregas river flowing in the opposite direction on the left, the road passes by El Vivero on the right before snaking right/left to avoid the river before rolling into the finish at a service station next to the main A-5 highway at the top of the climb. In terms of ascent, the highest elevation gong goes to the penultimate climb which shades the finishing line by a mere five feet in the race to burn your legs to a cinder.

Distance: 19 miles / 30 kilometres

Ascent: 627 feet / 191 metres

RGT Magic Road: dV0j5cZl23zM

Total distance: 19.49 mi
Max elevation: 768 ft
Min elevation: 546 ft
Total climbing: 619 ft
Total descent: -393 ft

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