Vuelta a España: Stage 9

Distance: 174.3km
Category: Mountains
Highest point: 1,320m

After a year's absence, the Vuelta returns to one of its new favourite locations for a finish on the 'wall' in the centre of Valdepeñas de Jaén. The last two winners here were Igor Antón and Joaquim Rodríguez, and it would be no surprise to see another flyweight climber win on the 20 per cent ramps that make this finish so special. Although the countryside in deepest Andalucia is rugged, this stage is straightforward until its end. It bumps along to the third-category Fraile pass, which is not too demanding. The day's escapees should survive as far as the final ascent but past form suggests one of the GC contenders will sweep by them there.

Yvon Ledanois: "You would expect one of the specialist climbers to come out on top here. It's certainly not a profile that will suit the riders in our team, although nothing is impossible. The final climb is very hard but if a group comes to it with a good gap, they might hold on."  

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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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