Head in any direction in Asturias and you’ll find a little known but fearsome ascent that’s waiting to have its reputation sealed by the Vuelta’s passing.
On this occasion, it’s the Jitu de Escarandi, which rises from the town of Cabrales up to and beyond Sotres. Although not especially high, it’s tough enough to rattle anyone’s composure this far into a grand tour and beautiful enough to make a lasting impression on spectators.
Its gradient of eight per cent over 13km doesn’t appear obscenely difficult but it almost flattens out for a kilometre between some steep ramps on the first half and some super steep ones in the second, particularly above Sotres. It could produce quite a shake-up.
Fernando Escartín (two-time Vuelta runner-up):
"The second consecutive stage in the mountains finishes on another climb new to the race. Sotres Cabrales is not a very long test but the final two kilometres are extremely demanding and should split the GC favourites, although the gaps may not be all that significant."
The text in this preview originally appeared in the September edition of Procycling magazine.