Indurain predicts “big battle” on San Miguel de Aralar

Spain’s five-time Tour winner tackles new summit finish in Navarra

Miguel Indurain has described, the Vuelta a España’s new climb, the San Miguel de Aralar as “very tough” and likely to favour pure climbers such as Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodríguez.

The five-time Tour de France winner, who lives in Pamplona, which will host the start of stage 11 to the new ascent, said before starting up the Aralar that hehoped he could climb it in the saddle as he would have done in his racing pomp. However, Indurain was soon forced to stand on the pedals on early ramps of the cement-surfaced ascent.

“It is a very tough climb, especially in the opening kilometres. After that, it stays above 10% until the final section, when it ramps up again,” he told AS. “I know it from having climbed it in a cyclosportive. I think its difficulty stems from the consistently steep gradient. It is also pretty long at 11 kilometres.”

The stage is set to feature two passes before reaching the final ascent, but Indurain believes the Lezáun and Lizarraga climbs aren’t all that testing, although they are quite lengthy. However, he foresees another complication.

“It is being reported that the stage will take place after a time trial, which would mean that this stage could cause more damage because of the accumulated effort,” Indurain explained. He added that the cement surface could also be a touch bit heavier than a normal tarmac surface.

As for favourites for the stage, he was quick to pick out “pure climbers and explosive riders. It’s still a little bit too early to talk about favourites when the season hasn’t even started, but this climb will suit people like Purito [Rodríguez] and Contador phenomenally well.”

Indurain said that he couldn’t think of a climb with which to compare the San Miguel de Aralar, but added: “I see the San Miguel as a good summit finish, a bit like those at the Tour, which are open and allow fans to follow the action from the upper
reaches of the mountain.”

The Vuelta presentation takes place in Cádiz this coming Saturday. Speaking at an event in the city yesterday (Tuesday), race director Javier Guillén confirmed details about the three opening stages in that region. The Vuelta will start with a 12km team time trial through the streets of Jerez de la Frontera, which will celebrate the 750th anniversary of the sherry-making city’s foundation.

The second stage running 170km between Algeciras and San Fernando should be on the few that favours the sprinters. The first big climbs come on day three, which features three passes on a stage extending to 188km.

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