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New climbs in the frame for Vuelta

The Angliru guarantees epic dramas and great battles

The Angliru guarantees epic dramas and great battles (Image credit: AFP Photo)

With less than three weeks until the unveiling of the 2011 Vuelta a España on January 12, there are reports that race organisers Unipublic are considering the inclusion of two new climbs in the north of the country during the race's crucial final week. That week is also almost certain to feature the return of the fearsome Angliru, which last appeared on the race route in 2008, when Alberto Contador took the title.

According to reports in several papers including El Comercio Digital, Unipublic have been looking very closely at the recently surfaced Farrapona climb in Asturias. The 1708m summit is now the highest paved pass in that region. It climbs for 18.7km at an average of 5.7 percent and has ramps of up to 12 percent. Reports suggest that Unipublic considered using the climb in this year's race but eventually opted for the Cotobello.

Meanwhile, specialist cycling publication Meta2Mil has been pushing the claims of the Puerto de Ancares, which lies on the border between the provinces of León and Lugo and has never featured in the Vuelta despite being paved as far back as 1978. There are four routes to the summit of the 1670m pass, of which by far the toughest is the road via Pan do Zarco.

This climbs 1110m in height in only 12km, giving an eye-watering average gradient of 9.25 percent. There are numerous ramps of between 12 and 15 percent, with some on the initial third reaching up to 20 percent. This could potentially put the Ancares in the same range of difficulty as the Angliru.

The 2011 Vuelta, which should once again suit the specialist climbers, is likely to feature the Sierra Nevada and Pandera summits in Andalucia, as well as the return of some of the Basque Country's most renowned passes such as the Urkiola and Arrate.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).