Málaga is proud that it’s the first province to host four Vuelta stages in the same year, and particularly so of this one, which takes the race to one of the region’s most renowned sights.
Cut high into the cliff face in the early 20th century to allow workers access to hydroelectric installations, the Caminito del Rey (the king’s pathway) became a hotspot for climbers until it fell into disrepair. Now restored, it will provide a spectacular backdrop to the first of nine summit finishes.
The concluding ascent of the Alto de la Mesa is short but sharp. It extends to 2.5km at an average of almost nine per cent, with sections at 15 per cent. It will test the GC contenders’ mettle from the very start.
Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):
"I’d classify this stage as rompepiernas [leg-breaking]. It isn’t hugely difficult but the road goes up and down constantly and that will definitely take a toll. I’d guess that there will be about 20-25 riders in the lead group coming into the finish and there won’t be too many seconds between them."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.