José Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera says he believes that the Cotobello climb in Asturias that is almost to feature as a summit finish in the final week of the 2010 Vuelta a España will provide a spectacular setting for what is sure to be one of the crucial moments of the race.
Rubiera adds that, if selected for the Vuelta by his new RadioShack team, it would also provide him with a great way to round off his career in his 16th and final season given that the climb has been dubbed the 'Cima Chechu Rubiera' in his honour.
About to enter the last month of his contract with Astana, Rubiera recently climbed the Cotobello accompanied by journalists from Asturian paper Comercio Digital.
"The Cotobello climbs steadily at about 8%. It's what cyclists call a 'puerto largo', a climb that takes a lot out of because of its constant difficulty," said Rubiera after his reconnaissance.
"There aren't many climbs of more than 10km on which a good climber can create decent gaps. I believe there will be here because there are scarcely any points where you can get respite and on the final section there are ramps of 10-15% and even up to 18%, which mean that riders will have to maintain a good rhythm."
Likely to come in the middle of the Vuelta's final week, Rubiera insists the climb will be decisive, especially if a rider like Alberto Contador is in contention. "It will be a decisive day full of mountains where riders such as Alberto Contador will be able to decide the Vuelta, because a champion like him will probably climb it in the 21 from the bottom and set a hellish pace that will be difficult to follow," Rubiera reckoned.
Comparing it to other climbs in Asturias, Rubiera said "the Cotobello is a little less tough than the Angliru, but its constant gradient makes it as complicated as more mythic summit finishes that are already well known at the three major tours."
He added that Vuelta organisers Unipublic were considering three route options for the stage finishing on the Cotobello. The most likely of them, he says, would be a day that takes in the Colladona, el Monumento al Minero, La Falla de los Lobos and El Cordal climbs. Another option would be to include a passage over the Cobertoria, which featured as a summit finish in the 2006 race.
Looking ahead to his final season in the peloton, Rubiera admitted climbing the mountain named after him in next September's Vuelta would be a good way to bow out. "It would be a great way to retire, on home roads in front of my fans and, in addition, on a climb that's called the Chechu Rubiera. It would be a dream for any cyclist, and even more so one about to retire."
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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).
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