Stage 15: La Robla to Lagos de Covadonga, 186.5km
This is the classic climb of the Lagos de Covadonga on the middle of three tough mountain stages. The race will really come alive in the last 50km, first with the Cat 1 Mirador del Fito (6.8km, 8.3%, with the final 3km over 10%), then onto the Covadonga. The 13.5km climb is eye-wateringly tough, with the last 6km up to La Huesara dubbed ‘The Boneyard’.
Two short downhill sections near the summit provide the perfect springboard for a stinging attack to test weary legs, with each both preceded and followed by double-digit gradients. The latter of these leads into a final ramp of around 500 metres at 10% to the finish line, in what could prove to be the world’s slowest sprint finish.
This could well be the stage that decides the winner – or at the very least eliminates Chris Froome and Alejandro Valverde from contention. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, tomorrow’s stage is just as brutal. More on that to follow …