Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué described this as the toughest Vuelta stage that he has seen in more than 30 years.
As the man behind this epic challenge, Andorra resident Joaquim Rodríguez’s popularity could take a serious hit as he and his peers take on six categorised climbs within the Pyrenean principality. Crammed into just 138km, the climbing begins immediately on the Beixalis. Of the next four passes, the most brutal is the Collada de la Gallina, which will be reached via a newly surfaced road that averages 8.5 per cent over 12km with ramps of up to 18 per cent.
The middle section of the final climb is also daunting. This could be a stage for the ages.
Javier Guillén (race director):
"This is possibly the hardest stage we have ever put together in terms of the amount of climbing involved. It’s only 130km long although I know Rodríguez would have liked it to be longer. The race needs epic stages like this but obviously we can’t have 21 of them. We have to feature them sparingly."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.