Today's stage is bookended by two big climbs, the Category 1 Alto de Filabres, the summit of which will be reached after 31 kilometres of steady climbing from the start, and the hors-categorie Sierra Nevada, which has a gradient of 10 per cent on its lower slopes and which provides the first of this year's six summit finishes. At 2,100 metres, the Sierra Nevada is the highest point of the 2011 Vuelta, meaning that the stage winner will also bag the Cima Alberto Fernandez prize. It was here in 2009 that a disastrous wheel change by a neutral service mechanic saw Cadel Evans lose touch with eventual winner Alejandro Valverde.
"This could be a day for someone who is coming into the race strongly. I'd say Jurgen Van Den Broeck, who showed what he can do winning a stage in the Dauphine, but he may be below par in the first few days due to recovering from his crash in the Tour. It's definitely a day for a strong climber, and someone targeting the overall win on the GC."
You can find out more about Geraint Thomas via his website www.geraintthomas.com
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.