Race director Javier Guillén and his organising team were clearly impressed with last year’s stage into Valdepeñas de Jaén, where the 23 per cent ramp to the finish surprised many and produced a superb winning effort from Igor Antón. This year’s race heads back into the small Andalucian town twice. Before that, the day starts with a rare descent from the ski resort, then heads across a parched, open landscape where the wind could be a factor. It could be a day for a small break to stay clear but even if that is the case ,the main contenders will face off on the finishing ‘wall’.
Vuelta flashback 2002, The introduction of the Alto de la Pandera
Until the realisation last year that the short but steep climb up through the centre of Valdepeñas de Jaén would provide a spectacular stage finish, this small town to the south of Jaén was best known for its proximity to the foot of the Alto de la Pandera, one of a string of new ascents added to the race over the past decade. The 1,800m summit was first used in 2002, when Roberto Heras took a solo victory and went on to finish second overall. Since that year, none of the four subsequent winners on either the Pandera or in Valdepeñas de Jaén have gone on to take the overall title.
Highest point: 1.950m
David Lopez says:
“I haven’t forgotten this finish from last year. It’s a pretty stage but very hot because you’re right in the interior. The final kilometre is a hard climb. There won’t be big gaps but it will find some riders out because there’s little chance to rest today.”
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.