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September 1 post: Stage 8 is what the organizers call the "first real mountain stage of this year's Vuelta" because lets face it, Philippe Gilbert isn't suppose to win a mountain stage. (Stage 3 was debatably the first mountain stage at this year's race.)

Villena, famous for its La Atalaya castle, in the northwest part of the Alicante region, is the start host for this 189 km mountain stage that features five categorized climbs including the finishing cat 1 climb (profile) to Xorret del Catí. This stage isn't quite as hard as stage 9 last year which also finished at Xorret del Catí, but it should shake up the general classification just the same. The short, steep finish last year saw Gustavo César Veloso (Xacobeo-Galicia) take the win from a break and eventual race winner, Alejandro Valverde, moved into the Gold Jersey thanks to his third place finish. He won the bunch sprint for third on the flat, twisty final km to the line. There is also a short descent into Xorret del Catí. This year, expect to see Igor Anton or Joaquin Rodriguez leading the race after this stage.

This is the fifth time a stage has finished at Xorret del Catí since first added in the modern era the Vuelta. — Steve

  Stage 9 highlights from last year's Vuelta that also finished on Alto Xorret del Catí
9 Big Photos from last year's Stage 9 (Xorret del Catí)sirotti
Last year's detailed preview and race

Stage 8 climbs
Km 18 - Puerto de Onil - 6,4 km at 5% - Category 3
Km 89,5 - Puerto de Tudons - 6,9 km at 4,78% - Category 2
Km 115,2 - Puerto de Torremanzanas - 8,3 km at 5,3% - Category 2
Km 141,7 - Puerto de la Carrasqueta - 11,0 km at 4,77% - Category 2
Km 186,8 - Alto Xorret del Catí 3,8 km at 11,56% (max 22%) - Category 1

(Y! 2010 Edition)