The stage, which links Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha, includes two 3rd-category climbs, Villares and Chimorra, both of which are located early in the route. The final, slightly uphill, kilometres wouldn’t seem to provide a major obstacle to a bunch finish.
Previous editions: Córdoba has hosted 14 stage starts. Puertollano has a less intense, although more concentrated, history in the Vuelta, having hosted finishes every year since 2005. Alessandro Petacchi, Leonardo Duque and Daniele Bennati figure among the list of distinguished winners to claim victory in the city.
"Race leader Alejandro Valverde and his Caisse d’Epargne team declared an unofficial rest day as Lars Boom (Rabobank) won stage 15 out of a 13-rider break.
Boom attacked a large breakaway on the second of two trips up the Category 2 Alto de San Jeronimo and soloed in for the victory more than 90 seconds ahead of David Herrero (Xacobeo Galicia) with Dominik Roels (Milram) third.
"This is something special and important because it is a major tour," Boom said.
Behind — and we do mean behind — the peloton was coasting along, content to let the break have its way after three tough days in the mountains. André Greipel (Columbia-HTC) finally led the peloton in 25 minutes after Boom crossed the line.
Third-placed Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel-Euskadi) tried a little move on the final descent, but it was neither fast nor technical enough for him to take any time on the race leader, and the GC remained unchanged.
"Valverde is concentrated as never before but I will continue to try to overtake him. At one minute ... it is a good result ... I don't rule anything out at all," said Sanchez."