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More hints at 2011 Vuelta a España route

It looks like it will be another climbers’ delight for the 2011 Vuelta a España as new details of the likely route for next year’s Spanish tour are being revealed by local media.

La Farrapona: Another killer climb for the Vuelta?
La Farrapona: Another killer climb for the Vuelta?

With the official route presentation not scheduled until January 12, details continue to leak in Spanish media about how the route could look. The latest speculation is the likely inclusion of a new climb in northern Spain called La Farrapona in the northern region of Asturias.

According to a report in the Nueva España newspaper, the climb will make its debut during what looks to be a grueling final week of the Vuelta. The infamous climb of L’Angliru, also perched in the mountainous Asturias region, is expected to make its return for next year’s edition.

La Farrapona is the highest summit in Asturias, topping out at 1,708 meters (5,636 feet). The stage is expected to start in the port city of Aviles and hit several other climbs en route to the final assault of 18.7km final climb, only recently paved.

The final climb enters the spectacular valley of Salencia in the Somiedo natural preserve, which harbors some of Spain’s few remaining brown bears. The average grade of the climb is 5.6 percent with a total elevation gain of 1,087 meters, but the climb gets steeper the higher it climbs. The final 6km has an average grade steeper than 8 percent, with ramps as steep as 12 percent.

The 2011 Vuelta will begin August 27 in Benidorm along the Mediterranean coast and conclude September 18 in Madrid.

It is already confirmed that the Vuelta will return to the Basque Country for the first time in more than 30 years for its 2011 edition.

The Spanish tour has steered clear of the Spain’s cycling hotbed since the late 1970s, but officials have confirmed that Bilbao and Vitoria will play host to stages near the end of next year’s race.

The Vuelta once had a rich history in Spain’s Basque Country, one of Europe’s most passionate cycling communities. The race was previously organized by Basque Country newspapers before the event was sold to UniPublic.

The Vuelta was long associated with the Franco government, however, and nationalistic Basque protesters in 1978 forced the cancellation of a stage in San Sebastián when rocks, tree trunks and other debris were dumped onto the course. The race has not returned since.

Changes in regional government and the continued passion for cycling in the Basque Country have re-opened the doors to the Vuelta.

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