Previous finishes in Ávila have come after a tough day in the Sierra de Gredos but this one is much more straightforward and should favour the prospects for the break much more than stage 18.
Rising for 16km at a touch over four per cent, the second-category Paramera shouldn’t stir up the GC hitters too much. The key point arrives as the riders near the finish and head onto the steep cobbled climb up into the walled city of Ávila.
Irishman Philip Deignan won on the Vuelta’s last visit in 2009, suggesting punchy climbers should have an edge. That’s backed up by Luis León Sánchez’s victory here in a 2012 Vuelta a Castilla y León stage that also featured the Paramera.
Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):
"Fatigue will be having an impact by this point and I’d expect a breakaway containing some of the stronger riders who aren’t in the GC battle to feature. As we’ve seen before, the cobbled climb up into Ávila is likely to be the decisive point and could cause some minor splits among the GC riders."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.