This is another tricky stage with a rather lumpy aspect. With a rest day and a longish transfer to come, the GC riders should be content to let a break go and have the sprinters’ teams chase it down.
There’s a complication for the latter in the shape of the second-category Alto del Desierto de las Palmas, which comes late in the stage. Averaging five per cent over 8km, it featured on the circuit used for the 2011 Spanish Road Race Championship won by JJ Rojas. Very much in the chasers’ favour, though, are the 20km of pan-flat road that follow it and run all the way into the finish.
The breakaway will need two minutes at the very least if they are to hold on until Castellón.
Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):
"This is one of the few stages on the race for the sprinters. Even though there’s a climb not too far from the finish, I would expect most of them to cope with it fairly comfortably and then retrieve any losses on the 10km drop towards the finish. They won’t want to pass up this opportunity."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.