Spain’s most spectacular climb?
There’s been plenty of debate over the years about why the Vuelta has never tackled the Ancares, especially as the pass was surfaced 20 years ago and is regarded as the most spectacular in Spain. Finally, though, it has been included. Comparisons are often made between the Ancares and the Galibier. Although the French giant is much bigger, both feature a substantial ‘first step’ before the grind up the main ascent. The kilometres after Balouta are particularly tough but there are also steep ramps close to the summit. There are 60 very fast kilometres into the finish in Ponferrada.
Vuelta flashback 1942, Berrendero leads from start to finish
Ponferrada hasn’t featured regularly on the Vuelta route but it did in 1942, when Spain’s cycling icon of the era retained the title. A narrow winner of the first post-civil war Vuelta in 1941, Julián Berrendero was in crushingly dominant form in 1942. Winner of the opening stage when he finished 23 minutes clear of the pack with his breakaway companion, Berrendero led the race from start to finish. Although his lead had been reduced to a mere eight minutes by Madrid, Berrendero was never seriously threatened in a field that numbered just 40 at the start and 18 at the finish.
Highest point: 1,670m
Igor Antón says...
"The organisers have laid a bit of trap here. The route climbs the Ancares pass, which is very tough. The contenders will have to be aware of long-range attacks from this pass even though there are more than 40km to the finish."