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Next year should be a good season for fans who like to watch others suffer on a bike.
With the Tour de France bringing back Alpe d’Huez and a summit finish atop the Galibier and the Giro d’Italia slated to have seven mountaintop finishes, the Vuelta a España doesn’t want to be overshadowed. The Spanish tour will likely see a return of the gruesome Angliru climb in next year’s edition.
That’s according to reports in the Nuevo España daily in Spain’s Asturias region, which says that the popular summit finish in the Cantabrian mountains is likely to be one of two stages in the mountainous territory along Spain’s northern coast.
Vuelta organizer Javier Guillén has met with local officials to hammer out the details. The 2011 Vuelta route will be unveiled during a ceremony next month in Alicante, with the 76th edition of the Vuelta starting August 27 in Benidorm and ending September 18 in Madrid.
The Angliru climb has quickly become the Vuelta’s climb of reference since its introduction in 1999, when the inaugural stage was won by now-deceased Spanish climber José Maria Jiménez. Gilberto Simoni won in 2000 and Roberto Heras won in 2002. The race didn’t return to the narrow, torturous climb until 2008, when Alberto Contador won the stage en route to claiming the overall title.
The climb is one of the steepest in Europe, with an average grade of 10 percent over 12.5km of very narrow asphalt. The steepest ramps are near 24 percent at a section called the “la cueña les cabres.”
Guillén said he would like to see the Angliru and the Vuelta’s new marquee climb at Bola del Mundo rotate into the race profile every two to three years.