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Stage 771 – Valverde de Agreda to Castejon

As if the big downhill on stage 770 wasn’t enough, the one on this stage is even better, because once it starts, it never lets go. This is a stage that you’ve cycled 770 stages round the world for, and it’s an absolute ripper. Tacking north east past the mountains on the left that threatened to slow your progress just a few stages ago, you can be thankful now that the journey took an extra day to head out east and allow an easier run north on flatter terrain (or even consistently descending terrain). It always helps of course, to end a stage that’s coming out of the hills, at a proper river crossing and this one does not disappoint. Fifty feet up and fifteen hundred feet down in close on twenty one miles: what ‘s not to like about that?

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first: the highest elevation of the stage is at the start and the lowest’s at the end. The rollout lasts for twenty one miles basically.

Actually, the rollout is north for two miles to the meeting of three administrative districts: Castile and Leon, which the route in currently in, Aragon, which lies fifty metres to the right, and La Rioja, which is north and where the route is ultimately heading. You need to pay attention at this point because here’s the craic between two miles and six miles: Castile and Leon, then La Rioja, then Aragon, then La Rioja again, then Aragon again, then La Rioja again. The road twists and turns but not half as much as those district boundaries.

Once the route finally settles on La Rioja, it’s pretty much straightish and north eastish to the Balsa de la Eastanquillas reservoir a mile to the right after eight miles. The road swings left/right there and begins heading north but that changes back to a north easterly tack once the N-113 swings by the eastern side of Cintruenigo after eleven miles.

By now the rivers and streams are back in business and they dominate the landscape around Cintruenigo. Barranco de la Nava is the first companion from eight miles and it flows into the Pantano de la Nava lake a mile later. Then it’s the turn of the Acaaequia de la Nava which flows out of the lake at the top end. After that, the Rio Llano flows under the road from left to right at eleven miles and beyond that it’s the Acequia de las Callejas after twelve miles as the road’s heading north out of town, followed by the Rio Corella at thirteen miles. Once the Corella’s out of the way, there’s the Rio Bajo flowing alongside the highway on the left and the Rio de Berdin on the right. Not to be outdone, the Rio de la Garrabera gets in on the act at fourteen miles, crossing right to left, then by sixteen miles the left and right waterways have swapped identities again and are now the Rio del Carasol on the left and the Rio Tambarria on the right.

There hasn’t been any action on the district boundary front for a few miles, but that gets attended to at seventeen miles as soon as the N-113 has crossed the Canal de Lodosa on the approach to Castejon. There, the road moves from the La Rioja district into Navarre but don’t complacent because that’s about to change again at the start of stage 772.

Back at the start of the show, I mentioned a proper river highlighting the finish. The river in question is the Rio Ebbo, and although the stage goes up to the river to take a took, it doesn’t cross because the stage ends on the river bank approaching the bridge on the southern side.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 69 feet / 21 metres

RGT Magic Road: mrTWF0COdYS0

Total distance: 20.59 mi
Max elevation: 2300 ft
Min elevation: 895 ft
Total climbing: 68 ft
Total descent: -1511 ft

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