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The 10 summit finishes of the Vuelta a Espana

Josh Cunningham
17 Aug 2016

We take a closer look at the 10 summit finishes set to decide this year's Vuelta. 22% ramps and 22km climbs included.

Stage 3: Dumbria Ezaro Viewpoint

The last time the Vuelta visited the Mirado de Ezaro climb in 2013, riders were forced to walk up it's 30% slopes, and it was Joaquim Rodriguez who finished 8 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador to take the win the last time a stage finished there, in 2012. Despite being only 1.8km, and coming only three stages into the race, the GC could begin to settle itself from this early stage with the Ezaro's severity. 

Stage 4: San Andrés de Teixido

The final climb of the stage is the 11.2km ascent up to Mirador de Veixia, and while it is probably one of the most scenic climbs of the Vuelta, on the cliffs of the Costa Artabra, it's unlikely to prove one of the hardest. 


Stage 8: La Camperona

The stage profile for stage 8 could certainly be said to be 'weighted towards the end', with the 8.3km La Camperona climb, which has slopes of up to 24%, coming as the sole spike in an otherwise uneventful stage. 

It was Ryder Hesjedal who last triumphed on La Camperona after being the best of a breakaway at the Vuelta in 2014, with Chris Froome just besting Contador, Rodriguez and Aru behind. 

Stage 9: Alto del Naranco

5.7km at 6.1%, the Alto del Naranco climb comes at the end of a stage that looks favourable towards a breakaway, peppered as it is with smaller climbs and crying out to be attacked. It was a blistering attack under the flamme rouge that won it on the climb's last appearance in 2013, with Joaquim Rodriguez again taking the spoils.

 

Stage 10: Lagos de Covadonga

Located in the luscious green valleys of the Asturias region of northern Spain, the Lagos de Covadonga is something of a visual treat. 12.2km and averaging out at 7.2%, the climb is rated 'out of category' and is sure to provide a test - and time gaps - in the GC. Last used in 2014 a summit finish, with the riders ascending to the lake through the mist, the stage was won by the sole survivor of a breakaway, with Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Alberto Contador and Chris Froome following up behind. 

Stage 11: Peña Cabarga

Peña Cabarga will be the fourth consecutive summit finish in a row, and with a rest day preceding it - which different riders could react differently to - we could see a lot of time gaps by the end. The climb is short and horrible at only 6km in length, but averaging almost 10%. There's a real sting in the tail too as the final 2km average 11.5% and includes slopes of up to 19%, so will favour the pure climbers in the field.


Stage 14: Col d'Aubisque 

Stage 14 will be played out almost entirely on French soil, and is arguably the 'Queen Stage' in this year's Vuelta. The Col Inharpu, Col du Soudet and Col de Marie-Blanque precede the Col d'Aubisque on a mammoth day in the Pyrenees, which by this stage in the race will really take its toll. And there's still three more summit finishes left to go...

Stage 15: Formigal

At a little under 120km, stage 15 is the shortest of the race, and with such a punchy profile it could well prove to be one of the most exciting and attacking stages of the race as both the breakaway and GC races have potential to open up early in the stage. The Formigal climb itself, up to a ski station, is not the most severe, but at almost 15km long it will feel like a long slog up to the finish. 

Stage 17: Mas de la Costa 

New to the Vuelta, the Mas de la Costa climb in Llucena could prove to be one of the toughest tests in the entire race. It's less than 4km long, but has ramps up to 22%, and so very punishing to tired legs, which on stage 17 there will be many. 

Stage 20: Alto de Aitana 

On stage 20 it finally ends: the last summit finish of the 2016 Vuelta. The Alto de Aitana is just inland from Benidorm and is the highpoint of the eponymous Aitana range. It's quite a grind at 22km long, and with a gradient of 5.9% it is unlikely to be the steepness that catches riders out - rather the long, high-intensity effort. It hasn't been used since 2009, when the stage was won by Damiano Cunego after he attacked the GC group with 2km to go, and although it's unlikely after so much climbing having preceded it, there is a small chance that the Vuelta could be decided on this final ascent.

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