Stage 5: Sober to Lago de Sanabria, 168.4km, rolling
Yes, the more I find out about this Vuelta, the more I think the organisers are having a joke with the sprinters. The official stage preview says this is a rolling stage with a sprint finish. Look at the profile, though …
This is no routine sprint stage – two cat 3s (both long but relatively mild inclines) and more than 2,500 metres’ total climbing – although the final summit is more than 30km from the finish, so we may well see a regrouping of the peloton after it, as we did yesterday. However, with Vincenzo Nibali presumably keen to pass on the hot potato that is the red jersey once again, expect Astana to encourage a breakaway to race off into the distance, hotly pursued by the teams of the sprinters.
With chances for the fast men few and far between over these three weeks, they won’t want to let an opportunity like this slip through their fingers, notwithstanding the lumpiness of the profile. If they can hold it all together, the run-in to the finish is undulating but not excessive and – aside from a right-hand turn about 600 metres from the line – pretty straight too. This could be a day for someone like Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE), Gianni Meersman (OPQSl) or Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), all powerful riders who placed third, fourth and sixth on yesterday’s long uphill drag.
Bit of trivia: Eddy Merckx won the Vuelta only once – the 1973 edition. But he made the most of it, by winning six stages and both the points and the combination classification. He was also second in the King of the Mountains classification. His work here was done.
Link: Official site
Header image: View of Lago de Sanabria