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September 9 post: Stage 14 moves from Burgos in the Burgos province due north for 178 km to a finish on the Bay of Santander (the Atlantic Ocean) in the Cantabria region. It's a mountainous route; the fifth of eight mountain stages at this year's Vuelta.

This is a day where the climbs get progessively harder, featuring a cat 3 climb, two cat 2s midway through the race before the hors catégorie mountaintop finish on Peña Cabarga (profile). Interestingly, the hors catégorie climb at the end is at a lower elevation then the previous three climbs (we'll descend to the coast after the last cat 2).

Peña Cabarga, a climb last used in 1979, averages over 9% for 6 km with the steepest parts located at the base and near finish where it ramps up to 19%. Since it was last used by the Vuelta, this mountain (located on the Bay of Santander) has become part of a new National Park called Parque Natural de Peña Cabarga Massif.

Will we see a GC contender threaten the race lead of Igor Anton or will someone unknown win it from a break like Ángel López del Álamo did in 1979. A Basque (Euskaltel-Euskadi) rider would love to win this stage as we are very close to the Basque Country, a political and cycling hotbed. Igor Anton is Basque and he could certainly make this his 3rd mountain stage win. Not only has it been 30 years since the Vuelta a Espana last finished on Peña Cabarga, but it has also been 30 years since this race last visited the Basque Country when a political protest cancelled a stage in San Sebastián. However, it has been announced that the Vuelta a Espana will return to the Basque Country in 2011. — Steve
A picturesque panoramic from the top of Peña Cabargawunderground

Stage 14 climbs
Km 76 - Alto de Bocos - 3,1 km at 6,45% - Category 3
Km 99 - Portillo de la Lunada - 8,7 km at 5,69% - Category 2
Km 122 - Alto del Caracol - 5,1 km at 7,35% - Category 2
Km 172 - Peña Cabarga - 5,9 km at 9,24% - Hors catégorie

(Y! 2010 Edition)