Stage 9: Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen, 163.7km, mountains
The organisers have decided it’s time for the fireworks now. After 160-odd kilometres of rugged terrain and a cat 2 climb in the form of Alto de los Frailes, the riders hit the wall in Valdepenas de Jaen.
The peloton will most probably let a break go early on, conserving their energy for the finish. Valdepenas de Jaen is steeper than a steep thing from Steep Town with gradients hitting nearly 30% in patches. At just 1km it’s short but, hot damn, if you’re struggling, it feels like forever. This climb was last used in 2011 when it was won by Joaquim Rodriguez, so that’s the kind of rider to watch out for today.
Bit of trivia: The rider who has spent the most days in the leader’s jersey is Alex Zulle with 48. He also won the Vuelta twice – 1996 and 1997.
Link: Official site
Header image: Andalucian olives
30%?! That’s INSANE!
Most people state the maximum gradient as 27% but I have also seen it reported as 29% and a few others. Obviously that’s just the steepest sections but whether it’s 27, 29, 30 or whatever it is simply insane. (It’s my favourite grand tour climb of all.)
We vacation in Tiger, Georgia on a mountain above Lake Burton that averages out to 18% over 1.25 miles – the steepest sections approach 25%, best I’ve ever done was just over a mile of it on fresh legs and was cooked… I can’t even imagine steeper. Looking forward to watching this one.
2km at an average of 18%? Blimey!
Yeah, it’s ugly, but FUN. That road was my first taste of real climbing too. After that an 8-10% climb over a 5k is a walk in the park. LOL