Even though the first summit finish comes just four days in, there’s no doubt it’ll be a crucial stage. The riders will climb towards the summit of the cat 1 Filabres Pass, which is just over 2,000m and new to the Vuelta. From there, the route turns westwards, crossing the cat 3 Blancares Pass to reach the foot of the 23.5km ascent towards the resort of Sierra Nevada. The 5.7 per cent average understates the difficulty of a climb to well over 2,000m in summer heat. Many struggled when the 2009 race came this way, notably Cadel Evans, who had to chase after an untimely puncture.
Vuelta flashback 1981, Sierra Nevada sets up Battaglin for a double
The Vuelta’s sole time trial up the Sierra Nevada was in 1981, two years after the climb first featured in the race. Having won the time trial prologue in Santander, France’s Régis Clère was leading the race a week later when the under-strength field of just 80 riders reached Granada. In freezing fog, Battaglin won the test on the Sierra Nevada by 43 seconds ahead of Spain’s Pedro Muñoz. The pair remained in the same positions on GC to the finish in Madrid, where Battaglin wrapped up the title. Four days later, he lined up in the Giro and, remarkably, went on to claim that title as well.
Highest point: 2,130m
Igor Antón says...
“This is a complicated stage partly because it comes so close to the start of the race. You will need to be well placed going onto the final climb because there will be some significant gaps at the finish today.”
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.