Cuitu Negru, resurfaced, will be Vuelta 2012 queen stage

Cuitu Negru before resurfacing (

Asturias, the majestic province in the north of Spain, yielded back-to-back victories to Alberto Contador in his bid for a first Vuelta win in 2008. Slaying the twin giants of l’Angliru and Fuentes de Invierno put Contador in the leader’s jersey to stay, and were key in adding his name to the record books as one of just five Triple Crown winners – the only Spanish winner – and one of only three to win both the Giro and the Vuelta in the same season.

Since then, Asturias has been the scene of other spectacular stages in the Vuelta a España, like Carlos Barredo’s audacious solo to Lagos de Covadonga in 2010 and the charge of El Bisonte on the Angliru last year. Clearly, the Principality can be relied upon to lend the Vuelta drama worthy of Spain’s hard-won first kingdom, and to demand of cyclists the valor of the medieval king Pelayo.

This year, Asturias offers three consecutive summit finishes, including a behemoth making a first-time appearance – Cuitu Negru. Will Contador try for another title? And, if he made it two in a row on Asturian slopes in 2008, could he make it three in 2012?

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