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Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta to return to Covadonga

Details of the 2010 version of the Vuelta a España are slowly leaking out through the Spanish media.

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Details of the 2010 version of the Vuelta a España are slowly leaking out through the Spanish media.

The official route won’t be revealed until December 16 in Sevilla, but a newspaper in northern Spain has reported that the Vuelta will return to the mountainous region of Asturias and include summit finishes at Lagos de Covadonga as well as a new climb at Cotobello.

Vuelta officials have promised that the race will return to such emblematic climbs in the Pyrénées and Asturias in 2010 after bypassing those regions this year. After starting in Holland, the ’09 Vuelta hugged the Mediterranean coast before turning into the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain and the central mountains around Madrid.

The Covadonga is the most important climb of the modern Vuelta, first featured in 1983. The last time the race went up the steep ramps was in 2007, when Vladimir Efimkin won the stage.

The Cotobello is a new climb up an old mining road that was only recently paved in 2004 near Aller along the rugged Cantabrian Mountains. Local riders, including Chechu Rubiera and Olympic road champion Samuel Sánchez often train up the steep climb.

Rubiera tipped Vuelta organizers off about the toughness of the climb and urged them to include it for a stage finish. The climb is 9.8km long with an average grade of 8.4 percent, with ramps as steep as 18 percent and should provide an interesting, final-week battleground.

If true, that would likely mean the Vuelta will not return to the fearsome Angliru climb. The Angliru, with ramps as steep as 24 percent, has been included four times since it was introduced in 1999. Alberto Contador won a stage there on its last stop en route to the 2008 overall title.