Stage 10: Torredelcampo to Guejar Sierra, 186.8km, high mountains
It’s all getting very serious now. This stage starts out benign enough but then it comes to the cat 1 Alto de Monachil, which leads to the summit finish of a new climb, the Alto de Hazallanas – 16km of beyond-category paaaaaiiiiiinnnnnn.
It’s the first high mountain stage of this year’s Vuelta and they’re making it count. This is a very complicated stage, with the final climb coming just after the Monachil, which in itself is 8.5km at 7.7% with double-digit sections peppered throughout the ascent.
As the Hazallanas is a new climb, it’ll be new and exciting for everyone. It will also be painful for everyone. Overall, it’s 15.8km at an apparently innocuous 5% average, but don’t be fooled – it doesn’t have the beyond-category classification without good reason.
It’s really two climbs in one. The first 8km or so starts out at a steady 6-7% before plateauing and leading into a short but hairy descent with a double-digit downhill slope. The final 7km is then sheer hell. There’s an initial couple of kilometres of double-digit incline, with a maximum of 18%. A short downhill section – barely enough to draw breath – is then followed by a 4km section, most of which is in the mid-teens. Finally, after a shallower shelf of closer to 5%, the final 2km starts out at 18% before finally flattening out towards the summit.
It’s a good job this stage doesn’t come at the end of nine hard days of racing. Oh, hang on.
With the rest day to follow, expect everyone to leave everything on the road today and for the GC to really take on a definitive shape which will establish the pecking order for the rest of the race. Where people have for the most part been losing just a handful of seconds here and there, today we could well see GC riders losing minutes if they’re not in top form.
Bit of trivia: It was on the Monachil that Cadel Evans punctured in 2009 and was left waiting by the roadside, desperately hoping for a wheel change. He lost a bucketload of time and ultimately the Vuelta because of this piece of unluck.
Link: Official site
Header image: The Alhambra in Granada