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Vuelta a Espana 2017 preview: Stage 20 visits the infamous Angliru

Angliru Big ride Ascent Corner 02
Joe Robinson
8 Sep 2017

The mountain that crushed Sir Bradley Wiggins's Vuelta ambitions in 2011 makes a return on Stage 20 of this year's race

The Alto de l'Angliru. A name that sends a chill down the spine of even the leanest and meanest of mountain goats. This climb has catapulted riders into the annals of history for both the good and the bad.

At 12.5km long, the average percentage of 10.1% is almost deceptive with the steepest parts of the climb coming after half way. The Angrilu continuously touches 20% throughout the final six kilometres, maxing out at 23.5%. These brutal gradients will see the peloton climb 1,241m from the base of its climb to its eventual summit.

The unsettling nature of the ever changing gradient means that riders cannot find a rhythm whilst climbing, making the whole experience uncomfortable and unpredictable.

The Angliru cruelly rounds off a tough final 50 kilometres on Stage 20, with two category 1 climbs acting as hors d'oeuvres to the headlining act.

Following suit with Stage 15, Stage 20 from Corvera to the Angliru is only 119.2km long. With a lack of kilometres on the stage when compared to the amount of vertical gain, this day will see riders either climbing or descending almost all day.

This is bound to lead to aggressive and fast racing from the flag drop.

Falling on the penultimate day of the race - with the final stage being a processional stage into Madrid - this final playground could be the deciding factor in who takes the overall title.

This would not be the first time that the Angliru had decided the winner of the Vuelta a Espana. British fans will remember the disappointment the climb brought in 2011.

Sitting comfortably in the lead, Sir Bradley Wiggins saw his dreams of Vuelta glory shattered on the ascent of the Angliru. Throwing caution to the wind, Spaniard Juan Jose Cobo went on the attack, distancing Wiggins and trusty domestique Chris Froome, riding into red. 

The time that Cobo banked on the Angliru was enough to see him through to Madrid, causing one of the biggest Grand Tour surprises in recent history. 

Being the very last test of the peloton, it would be of no surprise if the general classification experiences a dramatic reshuffle so late in the race. 

With this Stage coming so deep in the race, it is hard to predict who will be gunning for glory and be looking to utilise the climb to their own advantage. However, if all the expected protagonists are still present this late into the Vuelta, there are a few riders that we can expect to ride well. 

Having experienced the climb in 2011, Chris Froome will know what to expect and he certainly has the team to help him. Team Sky will also be able to call upon Wout Poels who has placed well on the climb earlier in his career.

The style of the climb, with its varying gradients, does not exactly suit Froome, who prefers a steadier gradient. Yet, Froome is know to thrive off of the difficult, and smelling blood, could use this monstrous climb to stamp his authority as the best climber in the world. 

With the constant pitches of 20%, another rider who may prosper on this climb is Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott). The talented Columbian has proven his worth on the steep stuff and could certainly use the Angliru to his advantage. 

Weighing just 55kg, he should be able to deal with the steepness of the climb well, and with victory at the 2016 Tour of Lombardy, Chaves has previous of delivering powerful efforts. 

Injury and personal loss has meant that Chaves has been less prevalent this season, and despite a strong start to the Vuelta has faded. The Columbian may see this as prime opportunity to salvage his season.

One rider that will be targeting tomorrow is Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo). In his penultimate day as a professional, the Spaniard will certainly be looking to go out on a bang. 

Contador has raced the entire Vuelta aggressively, and will no doubt take the same approach to what will be the final mountain of his career. 

With the podium only 1 minute 17 away, there is a likely chance that Contador could sign off his career with a stage win on this infamous climb and a podium at his final Vuelta. 

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