The 2013 Vuelta a Espana is now into its final week, with the 17th stage of the race due to get underway on Wednesday.
The riders were given a much-needed rest day on Tuesday as they prepare themselves for the latter stages of the epic 3,358-kilometre race.
With the grueling Asturian mountains still to come, here we take a look at the next stage between Calahorra and Burgos and the competitors you can expect to see challenging for first place.
The Calm Before the Climax
Following a number of mountain stages, the 17th stage gives the sprinters among the group an opportunity to improve their standing and make up some time on those above them.
Wednesday's installment is raced over a distance of 182 kilometres between Calahorra and Burgos, with the ride classified as rolling hills.
Despite this, there are still several notable climbs, particularly the two category 3 climbs found later in the stage.
Competitors will leave Calahorra, located southeast of the Rioja between the Ebro and Cidacos valleys, and end up in the northern city of Burgos, a historic place declared a World Heritage Site back in 1984.
Riders will benefit from having one of just two rest days on Tuesday, but they will be well aware that they need to conserve as much energy as possible for the Asturian mountains that lie ahead.
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Large wind turbines line many of the hills along the route, and the more open countryside means that wind could be a factor during this stage.
Warren Barguil of France won the 16th stage of the Vuelta on Monday with a devastating sprint up the Aramón Formigal peak.
The 21-year-old, who rides for Argos-Shimano, completed the ride from Graus in 3 hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds, marginally ahead of Colombia's Rigoberto Uran, who managed the same time. Poland's Bartosz Huzarski finished third, three seconds behind.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali retains the overall lead despite losing time to the USA's Christopher Horner after struggling on the difficult final ascent.
Niabli admitted to the Associated Press, via The Guardian:
It was a difficult stage with the wind against us. I thought I would be in better shape but it was a very difficult ascent. The last three kilometres were very tough, especially after three difficult days of racing, but I'm still optimistic.
Despite losing time to his nearest rival Horner, Nibali remains in pole position to win the Vuelta with a lead of 28 seconds heading into the 17th stage.
Unsurprisingly, Sky Bet makes the 2010 winner the favourite to emerge victorious on Sunday at 4-7.
Horner's odds have come in slightly at 9-4 but it is clear that bookmakers fancy the experienced Nibali with just five stages left to go.
Away from the top two, Sky Bet also offers the following prices: Alejandro Valverde 8-1, Joaquim Rodriguez 16-1, Nicolas Roche 100-1, Domenico Pozzovivo 125-1 and Thibaut Pinot 150-1.
The winner of two stages already in this year's race, Horner knows he must start to bridge the gap on the leader Nibali if he is to stand any chance of triumphing on Sunday.
The American will pull out all the stops and make up more time on his rival with victory in the 17th stage.
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