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Vuelta a España: Stage 18

Distance: 186km
Category: Medium mountains
Highest point: 1,150m

Compared to several other stages, this lumpy run through the mountains of Cantabria doesn't look too complex. However, much the same was said about an equivalent stage last year to Fuente Dé, where Alberto Contador pulled of one of the great Vuelta coups to strip the leader's jersey from Joaquim Rodríguez. The first potential trap for the GC contenders lies on the Caracol, where Alejandro Valverde's hopes disappeared in 2008. More dangerous still is the final climb up to Peña Cabarga, the scene of two tremendous duels in recent years. The last of them pitted Chris Froome against Juan José Cobo, the Briton winning the day, the Spaniard holding on to win the race.

Matt White: "Another nasty stage and definitely one for the GC, who will be going right at it on the final climb. For teams like ours that don't have an outstanding GC rider, this will be a tough race. All these summit finishes will look good on TV but there's too many of them."  

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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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