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Contador ready for the challenge of brutal mountain stage

Big guns set to contend key battle

Alberto Contador is looking to retire on a high note
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Stage 20
Eurosport 1, from 1pm

One last test stands in the way of Chris Froome becoming only the third man to win the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in the same year.

But what a test stage 20 is - 117.5km of mountainous terrain finishing atop the mythical Angrilu.

Froome knows better than most the damage this hellish climb can do to a rider's chances. The time he lost to Juan Jose Cobo cost him the red jersey in 2011, as he missed out on a first Grand Tour win by just 13 seconds.

The Briton is in a more comfortable position heading into Saturday’s challenge with 97 seconds to spare on nearest challenger Vincenzo Nibali, but he will know better than to celebrate prematurely.

The Angrilu was first introduced to La Vuelta in 1999 as Spain’s answer to the Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux. At 12.5km it’s not as long as those French brutes but its hellishly steep gradients single it out as a unique test.

It averages 9.8 per cent in all but the second half of the climb is where the mountain really bites. The final five kilometres average around 15 per cent with some slopes reaching an eye-popping 23 per cent.

Given the relatively close proximity of the general classification, the stage win looks likely to be played out by the GC contenders.

The weekend sees home favourite Alberto Contador bring down the curtain on his glittering career and the retiring Pistolero looks a worthy favourite to crown his swansong with a second victory atop the Angrilu.

He is unlikely to make up the 3min 34sec to Froome at the top of the standings, but Contador has looked in supreme climbing form over the past week - regularly dropping all of his GC rivals - and will hope to bridge the 1min 17sec gap to Wilco Kelderman in third to secure a place on the podium in Madrid.

Roared on by the Spanish crowd, he looks set to go out on top.

A Contador
2pts 15-8 Betway

The second half of the climb is where the mountain really bites
E.W. Terms
Sky bet