Highest point: 1,100m
Terrain: Medium mountains
Category: Road stage
A run of mountains
The impression that this is last year's route run backwards gains ground as this stage revisits the Xorret del Catí. It weaves through the mountains of Alicante in a way that will give hope to the riders in the break and suggests that there will be a change of leader, just like when Alejandro Valverde edged Cadel Evans out of the leader's jersey last year. One cat 3 and three cat 2 climbs provide stern tests before the cat 1 Alto Xorret del Catí, and then there's a 3km descent to the finish.
Rein Taaramäe won't be glad of this reminder of the pain he endured in Spain last year. The Cofidis rider didn't look closely at the roadbook and thought this hill was just a kilometre long. Part of a breakaway group at the foot of the climb, Taaramäe attacked on the first slopes, powered away and looked to have it in the bag. Then he fell apart when he ran out of juice 500m from the top of the 4km-long ascent, which averages 12 per cent. While Taaramäe was halted by cramp, Xacobeo's Gustavo Veloso took advantage, nabbing his team's only stage win. Veloso et al could well feature again here on what's the first of four consecutive mountain stages.
Matt White says:
"Another selective day. Although it's not too long, the final climb is extremely hard and the race leaders will get split up a bit on it. There's no chance to get any gaps back on the short drop to the finish."
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