Palas de Rei – Puerto de Ancares
Highest point: 1,661m
Category: High mountains
The first of the key stages
The Vuelta takes on a much tougher complexion in its final week. The decisive action begins with an extremely tough stage to the Puerto de Ancares, which appeared for the first time in the race last year. Back then, it featured in the middle of the stage won by Michael Albasini but even though it was some way from the finish, it was clearly tough. This year, four climbs precede the Ancares, each one more difficult than the last. Rated by some as the most beautiful pass in Spain, the Ancares averages 8 per cent and is extremely tough in its mid and final sections. There will be no holding back here.
Igor Anton: "Ancares is one of Galicia’s toughest passes and this is a leg-breaker from start to finish. Because it’s short, it will animate the race and the speed will be high. A really strong group will get away at the end and the last 3km are hard."