While the fearsome climbs of Sierra Nevada, Los Machucos and the Alto de l’Angliru grab the headlines for their sheer brutality, the 2017 Vuelta a España may also feature the easiest classified climb of any Grand Tour.
When the Vuelta a España route was first announced back in January, the opening team time trial in Nîmes didn’t include a classified climb, but as part of some late route shuffling in the last couple of weeks, a third category ascent has appeared – therefore meaning that the king of the mountains jersey can be awarded at the end of the day.
The Alto de Nîmes isn’t likely to cause too much damage, climbing from 62m to 100m and averaging just 1.5 per cent over its 2.4km length. What’s more, most of the “climb” is on the wide D296 road which will be tackled at high speed during the team time trial, with only a tight corner near the “summit” to break the rhythm.
With just three points available for the first rider from the first team over the summit, the Alto de Nîmes is unlikely to be decisive in the mountains classification, although perhaps we could see a team go hard from the gun in order to set the fastest time to the top of the climb and put one of their riders in the polka dot jersey.