Vuelta a España 2021: Stage 11 preview

Stage 11: Antequera - Valdepeñas de Jaén

Date: August 25, 2021 

Distance: 133.6km 

Stage timing: 14:15 - 17:30 CEST

Stage type: Hilly

Vuelta a España stage 11 preview video

This finish was something of a Vuelta staple a decade ago, appearing three times in four editions and also serving up a riveting finale on the “muro” up to the line. In those three previous appearances, it always favoured pure climbers, Igor Antón winning in 2010, Joaquim Rodríguez emulating him a year later, while Dani Moreno danced away on the pedals to victory in 2013, the race’s last visit here.

The stage is short, at 133.6km, and that should add to the explosiveness of the spectacle. It commences in Antequera, to the north of Málaga, and bumps its way north and eastwards through rolling terrain parched a dusty brown by the sun. This is propitious terrain for a breakaway. The finish is too hard for any of the sprinters, while the GC favourites may be happy to save their powder for the bigger mountain days to come, although there’s sure to be a contest between them on the final ramp, for bragging rights if nothing else.

The intermediate sprint arrives at Alcalá la Real, with 100km covered. There’s a small hill beyond this town, then a longer descent that drops to the foot of the first classified climb, the second-category Puerto de Locubín, which is also a bonus point. Averaging 5 per cent for almost 9km, it might split the breakaway group. It’s worth noting that when the Vuelta took this same route into Valdepeñas de Jaén in 2010 and 2011, the rider first over the Locubín didn’t prevail at the finish.

From this pass, the riders will drop down to the edge of Valdepeñas de Jaén, the road starting to climb a couple of kilometres from the line, then rearing up in the final 800 metres as it reaches Calle Farjas. It’s not dissimilar to the Mur de Huy, averaging close to 9 per cent in its final kilometre, but with short sections more than twice as steep, one ramp touching 24 per cent. Like the Flèche Wallonne finale, victory tends to go a rider who can not only climb well, but can best judge that effort.

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