Vuelta a España - Stage 8: September 6 - Alzira - Alto de Aitana, 206km

Brutal climb to sort the wheat from the chaff

Proycling's Analysis: Nightmarish. The climbs on the road to the summit finish aren’t high but there are seven, all second- or third-cat. The climbs should thin the contenders before the Aitana, particularly when the riders head past the Alto de Tudons with 6.5km left at a gradient close to 10 per cent.

Culture Vulture: The walled city of Alzira was founded by the Moors in the 8th century and brought under Spanish control when conquered by James I of Aragon in 1242. It’s now best known for ice cream production.

Local hero: The five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain has a home in the resort of Benidorm, barely 20km from the summit of the Aitana.

Vuelta Retro: The Aitana has featured twice before on the Vuelta route – in 2001 and again in 2004.

Neil Stephens says: It's a savage day. It's not only the climb to Aitana, the whole day is solid. I went out and had a look at it during the Tour - a few of our boys were there - it's really, really solid. Alejandro knows Aitana really well - I think it's going to take a really strong guy to get away from Alejandro Valverde and put big time into him on that sort of stuff. A good climber might be able to get away there - it's a big thing that Cadel Evans is coming to the Vuelta, and he's obviously a major threat, but it'll take pretty good riders to put either Alejandro or Cadel away. 

2009 Vuelta a España stage 8 map

2009 Vuelta a España stage 8 profile

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