It may seem odd to describe a stage that descends most of the way to a shark-toothed finishing circuit as being hard for the sprinters, but Spain rarely offers anything that’s completely straightforward for the bunch finishers.
Many riders will know the finale from the Vuelta a Murcia, where the Cresta del Gallo’s appearance is almost de rigueur. Extending to 5.5km at an average of 6.8 per cent, it could be a launchpad for attacking climbers. But the 12 flat kilometres to the finish provide hope to those in pursuit. Norway’s Thor Hushovd won in Murcia in 2010 but that stage only crossed the Cresta del Gallo once. An intriguing contest is in store for us.
José Luis Arrieta (Movistar DS):
"Alejandro [Valverde] will be especially motivated for this stage into his home city. The Cresta del Gallo is not a hard climb but tackling it twice will be too hard for the sprinters. The descent is quite technical and could cause some splits. I’d expect a much-reduced group to contest the finish."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.