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September 6 post: Starting from a vineyard in the La Rioja province, stage 17 will head north to the Bay of Santander (Atlantic Ocean) for the HC (Especial) summit finish at Peña Cabarga where stage 14 finished last year. You may recall that was the stage that Igor Anton crashed out of the Vuelta while wearing the leader's jersey. He hasn't looked nearly as good since.

Peña Cabarga is part of a new National Park called Parque Natural de Peña Cabarga Massif. The steepest parts of the climb are near the base and summit where it kicks up to 19%. Its 6 .1 km long and averages almost 10% so it should provide some fireworks. The lead up is twisty with a cat 3 and cat 2 along the way. Last year was the first time the Vuelta had visited this finish since 1979 and not surprisingly, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) took the win by 20s over Vincenzo Nibali who received the Red Jersey after Igor Anton crashed out.

Peña Cabarga is located in Cantabria, the home region of race leader Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC), but don't expect his fellow riders to give him an easy day since there aren't many more opportunities for the GC contenders. Expect an early break and then Team Sky with riders 2nd and 3rd on GC to try to put him under pressure later in the stage. Geox-TMC is proving to have the strongest team at this year's Vuelta so it won't be an easy task for Team Sky. — Steve

Big Photos from Peña Cabarga, Stage 14 in 2010sirotti/reuters

Km 205, Peña Cabarga 6.1 km @ 10%, max 19%.