So the Vuelta Espana grinds its way to the day of destiny promised from the moment the course was set.
The 12.5km ascent of the Angliru is notoriously the most savage in professional cycling. This short stage sets it up well, with two 1st category climbs in the lead in, the second of which is pretty steep and has a short descent before the final climb of the Tour.
This could be an ideal platform for the more aggressive teams to try and strip red jersey wearer Chris Froome of some of his support. In the end though, the extraordinary steepness and length of the final ascent is likely to turn it into every man for himself.
The race win could still be up for grabs as Froome struggled on a much shorter but similarly steep finish to Wednesday’s stage. Minutes can slip away quickly on this climb.
We remain hopeful that pre-race each way fancy Ilnur Zakharin can still make the podium – he has 12 seconds to find.
As for the stage win – there could be no more suitable conclusion to a decorated career for Spanish climbing legend Alberto Contador than a win on this hill. He already has a prior win here, and he looked in fine form on Wednesday’s similarly steep climb.
He will be super-motivated, with the fanatical support on his side, and he just loves to attack on these short mountain stages. He can end in a moment of glory.
That is a short priced prospect, much more speculative is that he wins by the minute over Kelderman and Zakharin, the two minutes over Nibali, and the three and a half minutes over Froome needed to win the race outright. Granted it’s unlikely but this is a unique climb that could crack anyone…worth a dabble.
To win Stage 20: Alberto Contador, 1pt win, 15/8 Betway
To win Vuelta: Alberto Contador, 1pt win, 50/1 generally available
Please subscribe for notification of up-to-date tips and news, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.