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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Stage 15 goes to altitude in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Joe Robinson
3 Aug 2017

With a summit finish at the Alto Hoya de la Mora, the peloton will be tackling altitude in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

When you look at route of this year's Vuelta a Espana, one stage in particular stands out like a sore thumb. 

Stage 15 from Alcala la Real to the Alto Hoya de la Mora will be either have riders struck with fear or jumping with joy. 

Cresting at 2,490 metres above sea level, the Hoya de le Mora could possibly be the biggest test for the peloton throughout the whole race. The 30.4km climb rises for 2,435m giving the climb an average gradient of 6%.    

Being 2000m above sea level, the riders will begin to feel the air become thin, adding to the list of difficulties the riders will be in. 

The main climb of the Hoya de la Mora nestles itself off of the back of the Alto del Purche category one climb, that accounts for the first 8.5km of the summit finish.

When added to the Alto de Hazallanas climb that is earlier in the stage, the Hoya de la Mora brings the total climbing for the stage to 3,172m. 

Whilst this does not seem excessive for a day in the mountains, when compared to the length of the stage, the sheer importance of this stage hits home.

At only 129.4km in length, this stage is bound to lead to explosive riding and all-in attacks throughout the day. Sitting the day before the final rest day, it will give opportunities for riders to dig extra deep safe in the knowledge they will have a day to recover.

Vuelta organisers are hoping this short and sharp stage will mirror the drama and excitement of Stage 15, 12 months previous. 

Stage 15 at the 2016 Vuelta was decisive in the outcome of the General Classification, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) distancing Chris Froome (Team Sky) by 2 minutes 37 on the road to Formigal, which proved to be enough to clinch the red jersey. 

This year's Stage 15 is arguably harder with the added ingredient of altitude in the mix. 

Of the riders taking on the Vuelta, this short but difficult stage certainly lends itself to some more than others. 

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) lives to attack on stages like this. As one of the main animators at Formigal last year, there is no doubt that the Spaniard will be looking to put on a show in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

He may not be the Contador of old, but that has not stopped him bringing drama and excitement to races. Rolling back the years, the 34-year old went on daring attacks throughout this year's Tour despite losing time on GC. Regardless of whether he has a chance for overall success by this point, it is hard to envisage Contador not launching himself off of the front of the peloton. 

Another rider that carries the panache to make the difference at Hoya de la Mora is Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). With notable performances at altitude in the Giro d'Italia, Nibali will be looking to distance race favourite Chris Froome (Team Sky) before Stage 16's time trial.

Chris Froome will be adamant not to let mistakes repeat themselves and will be extra vigilant when the flag drops on Stage 15. With the Alto Hoya de la Mora's gradient remaining steady, Froome should be able to deploy his trusty domestiques over the course of the climb. It will be of no surprise if the four time Tour de France winner crosses the line first.

No matter who is racing for victory by this point of the race, we promise that this will be a stage you will not want to miss. With live coverage kicking off at 12.30 on Eurosport, we recommend you settle down on the sofa and enjoy this afternoon of racing.        

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