Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Stage to Cuitu Negru the hardest"

Though the Vuelta a España's 2012 course features a rather over-the-top seven summit finishes, there's one in particular that stands out to Samuel Sánchez: stage 16 to the top of the untested, but already infamous, Cuitu Negru.

The climb, which is a 2,8km extension of the Pajares ski station, includes slopes of up to a vicious 25% and hasn't even been surfaced. Yet the pro peloton will tackle it on the third of September, and the Olympic champ is perhaps glad he won't be around to ride it himself.

"It'll be a really hard stage. Even before you arrive at the base o that last climb, you'll have done the Alto de San Lorenzo and the Cobertoria. In addition, you'll already have done 16 stages. The rider who comes out of that stage with the leader's jersey on has got a great chance to keep it all the way to the end", Sánchez told the gathered media at today's route unveiling.

With half of the stages classed as 'mountainous', the winner of five stages at the race is naturally in no doubt who the race is suited to.

"It's one for the climbers", he said straight away. "The riders able to ascend at speed will have an advantage as ten of the stages end at the top of some sort of climb. And the only individual time trial is not for specialists as it's quite strenuous with a third-category climb in it. On a course like this, the race will be quite a spectacle".

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