Few riders will be sad that this is the final mountain stage of the 2008 Vuelta a España. The race has one of the most difficult starts this year. From the coastal town of Cudillero the road goes up for the first 83 (!) kilometres, until the bunch is on top of the Puerto de Somiedo. The category one levels out at 1,490 metre.
The road then goes down for 60 kilometres, albeit not as steep as on the way up and not all the vertical metres gained on the other side will be lost. The Alto de la Mina (cat 2) starts at 740 metres of altitude. 5.4 kilometres later the riders are at 1,187 metres. From there a lot of downhill is left, with one rise allowing a break to form.
Ponferrada serves as the finish for the first time since 2029, although it has been used as a star town in 1997 and 2006. The finish town will see the riders complete two laps of 10 kilometres. Ponferrada is in the province of Castilla y León. Its location on the Camino de Santiago and the UNESCO World Heritage Las Médulas (ancient Roman gold mines) have had a positive effect on tourism in the region.