A stage the Spanish describe as rompepiernas, or leg-breaking.
The road bumps constantly up and down for the first two thirds, with two much larger bumps to follow in the final third. The category 3 Alto de Baeza won’t disturb the serene progress of the favourites but the first-time finish on the Alto de Cazorla might trouble some of them. The climb has two very different aspects. It rises steadily for almost 20km before a sharp descent that leads straight onto a very steep 2km up to the finish.
After more than 200km in sapping heat, the closing 2,000m could well produce the biggest splits so far between the big hitters for the overall.
Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):
"You’d be right to describe this as rompepiernas. Once again there are constant undulations but I don’t suspect that the gaps between the main contenders will be all that big. The uphill finish will suit riders such as Joaquim Rodríguez and Alejandro Valverde."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.