Stage 6: Guijuelo to Caceres, 175km, flat
At first glance this looks like a straightforward sprinters’ day. However, this is the Vuelta and while the run-in to the finish is hardly a climb, it is sufficiently uphill to favour the strong-men over the pure sprinters. We will probably still see a bunch sprint, but there’s just enough vertical gain to give late attackers a chance too.
The race is now coming into Extremadura, which means that the heat could prove to be a factor – no coastal breezes today! The finish is through the World Heritage city of Caceres and, with the sprint teams having their tails up after yesterday’s charge to the line, this should be a fast stage.
As yesterday, don’t expect Astana to work overly hard to defend Vincenzo Nibali‘s race lead – they’ll be happy to kick back and let the sprinters’ teams to the heavy lifting again. Today’s lumpy bits are relatively benign, so don’t expect the peloton to exert themselves overly until the closing kilometres. The final 7km averages 1.6%, but this includes a fairly sharp kick-up just inside 4km which will feel like hitting a wall to the speeding bunch. And then the final 2.5km features three roundabouts followed by a sharp right bend and then a sharp left at about 600 metres. Routine bunch sprint? I doubt it. Look for the same suspects we have seen feature over the last two days to be at the sharp end again. What price Orica-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews producing a repeat performance of yesterday’s victory?
Bit of trivia: The Vuelta has been the most moveable of feasts, jumping around the racing calendar from April to August and everything in between since its inception in 1935. It has held its current position at the end of August since 1995.
Link: Official site
Header image: Caceres