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Stage 773 – Olite to Beriain

Pamplona, ATW is heading your way! There is zero chance that stage 774 is going to avoid Pamplona. It’s coming for you, either by sliding east or west of the city, or by shooting straight through the middle: stage 773 finishes about five miles south looking due north at the city centre. The stage is a climber, as it was always going to be with with the Pyrenees lying in wait to ambush the unwary rider, but there’s a surprise coming at the back end of the stage because having climbed up all that way up, the descent down to the finish is a bit of a belter. The stage runs due north on a meandering route with hardly a straight bit of road so if bends are your thing, you’re probably going to like this one.

The rollout is a descent, or at least it is for half a mile, then after that, the N-121 slides to the left of Olite and gets stuck into the main course. If you leave aside that first half a mile, the rollout is twelve miles long because it’s one long slog that gets steeper with every single pedal stroke.

Beyond Olite, the route has the Zidakos river for company and that takes ATW into Tafalla at five miles. Don’t worry, the road’s still climbing. At the top end of the town, the Zidakos does a runner under the road from right to left then runs alongside the highway, constantly threatening to cross back, until the road trundles into Pueyo at eight miles: and still the road climbs.

With the river on the left and the main AP-15 autoroute on the right, everything’s fine until ten miles when the Leotz river has the audacity to flow right to left under the road to join forces with the Zidakos. Remember the road is climbing so whatever water is coming your way is heading downhill in the opposite direction.

As the road approaches the twinned towns of Garinoain (to the south) and Barasoain (to the north) (think Auchinleck and Cumnock): the N-121 has the Zidakos for company on the left and the Leotz on the right. But that all changes once the road enters Garinoain because the Leotz heads off east (right), never to be seen again.

The road throws up a false summit at twelve miles close by the Poligono Industrial Barasoain, an industrial estate stuck up on what is not the top of a hill. For that you have to wait another two miles, by which time the road has actually crossed the Zidakos, rolled through Mendivil and made its way on to Carrascal. The elevation’s now back up at eighteen hundred feet and getting ready for some action.

In terms of towns, it’s a double summit because although Carrascal can rightly lay claim to the elevation crown, Muruarte de Reta runs it a close second at sixteen miles. Then the fun starts: the road takes a right curve at the junction of the N-601, and with the main AP-15 on its right hand side, flies down into Campanas at seventeen miles before curving left away from the autoroute into the finish next to the bunch of water known locally as the Balsa de Morea on the approach into Beriain.

Distance: 20 miles / 32 kilometres

Ascent: 820 feet / 250 metres

RGT Magic Road: EWKbovklbGKz

Total distance: 20.35 mi
Max elevation: 1766 ft
Min elevation: 1146 ft
Total climbing: 795 ft
Total descent: -636 ft

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