As the sun begins to set, the glorious Summer nights become shorter it's the first sign that the end of the summer cycling season comes to an end. However there's still one more Grand Tour that still needs to be decided. We started off the season with the Giro d'Italia at the biblical town of Jerusalem which ended in Roma with Chris Froome sealing victory after performing a unbelievable 80km attack on stage 19. We then moved onto the Grand Depart, the season showstopper, the Tour De France departing the 3 week adventure from Noirmoutier-en-l'Île to the traditional parade in Paris on the Champs Elysees with victory only finished off by Team Sky’s Gerraint Thomas after many years lurking in the shadows of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
So last but not least leaves us with the Vuelta a Espana, the final Grand Tour birthed in 1935. The inaugural event began its roots with just 50 participants facing a torturous 3411 km course over 14 stages averaging 240 km per stage. In The Vuelta’s inaugural event, the Spanish unfortunately never had their day and the overall win was awarded to Belgium’s Gustaaf Deloor. History shows us that the Grand Tours were all inspired by newspaper companies trying to drive national sales to their paper by introducing these epic human challenges across the country and the Spanish newspaper, Informacion, were no exception as well. Fast forward to today and it still draws as much attention to the masses with epic battles over the last fews years with the likes of Alberto Contador winning a few editions to the petit climber Nairo Quintana and most recently Chris Froome doing the Double in 2017 winning the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year.Embed from Getty Images
This years 73rd edition which includes 9 summit finishes are set to be another epic battle between the climbers.These key climbs are where we could see the GC battle being spiced up.
Lagos de Covadonga
Situated in Asturias near the coast this stunning climb 16 km in length boasts an average of 7.4% with an altitude of 1143m, it starts off fairly gentle before waking the legs up at 6km where the percentage shoots up to 10.8% for 2km before it allows a slight “recovery” at 8.4% for a few km’s and then at 11km into the climb it reminds you that this isn’t going to be a stroll up some beautiful Spanish climb that the percentage goes upto 12.5% for a 1km before it backs off to allow some respite for 4km before it finishes off at 11.6% for the final km and you greeted with a stunning view of the surrounding areas from the top.
Praedes de Nava
This Climb is featured on stage 14 of the Vuelta it looks to be another one of the epic stages with the profile looking more like a rollercoaster day in the saddle as the riders face 5 brutal climbs finishing on the debutant Praeres de Nava.
The final climb is where those crucial few seconds for GC could be gained with 14 stages in the legs and 171 km of warfare to face over the stages first 4 “softening” climbs before the fireworks starts on the final 4 km with an average of 12.5%.Its starts off from the go at 10% and then quickly rips the legs after the first 1km as it shoots to 15% and then it's just a battle of survival as it continues to 17% before it allows you to take a breather in the final kilometre.
Col de la Gallina
Stage 20 profile looks more like Ambush stage for those that are abit down on GC and look to gain crucial time either for a podium or to topple the Red jersey.Could this stage be another similar launch pad that the likes of A la Chris Froome on stage 19 of the Giro d Italia this year or even the errrr “fuelled” Floyd Landis on the ridiculous solo attack in the 2006 Tour de France on stage 17 either way this is the final train for those hoping to gain time or get themselves onto the podium.This short stage of a shade under 100 km looks to be carnage from the drop of the flag as the rider play on the slopes of Andorra as they face 5 tasty climbs during the course of the da, the first comes straight after the start the Col de la Comella with an average of 8.7% for 4.3 km followed by a firing squad of climbs the Coll de la Beixalis, Coll de la Ordino back to the Col de la Beixalis and Comella greeted finally by the Col da la Gallina the toughest climb in Andorra, a Google search and former Vuelta Espana stage Winner Joaquim Rodriguez claims to be one of the hardest climbs he’s ever done in his career, and regarded as one of the hardest Grand Tour of the last 30 years. Why because you simply can't get into a rhythm which will suit those pure climbers like the likes of punchy climbers like Nairo Quintana. The organisers have been a bit soft on the riders as they don’t tackle the entire climb.
The Gallina stretches 11.8km with an average of 8.3% the gradient is inconsistent with sections above 15% allowing minimal getting into a rhythm as it climbs to an altitude of 1910m, either way this is going to be an epic end to finish off the finale to finish off the Final Grand Tour