Stage 8: Lleida to Andorra. Collada de la Gallina, 174.7km
This is the second major summit finish and with this being the eighth consecutive day of racing, the riders are probably getting a little tired and looking desperately forward to the rest day after tomorrow’s stage. The riders go over the Cat 2 Alto de la Comella less than 20km from the finish – the climb itself (3.8km, 5.2%) isn’t a major problem, but it does have a steep and tricky descent.
Then it’s up the Cat 1 Collada de la Gallina, making its Vuelta debut. At 7.2km long and averaging an even 8%, this is an altogether more challenging mountain. There are three 15% sections and the last 4km averages over 9% and contains close to 20 switch-backs. It’ll be guys dropping off the back rather than boys flying off the front that could cause the splits.
It should get pretty feisty among the GC contenders, but don’t be surprised if the breakaway stays away today as the big boys man-mark each other over the climbs. Anyone aspiring to make an impact in the mountains classification should be eyeing a stage win here, so look for four-time defending King of the Mountains David Moncoutie to get into the break, along with anyone else who fancies themselves in polka dots.