Stage 12: Maella to Tarragona, 164.2km, flat
It’s one of those stages where the GC riders will want to conserve energy for the trial of the Pyrenees to come. It’s also flat, so the sprinters will want to come out to play in Tarragona.
Of course, looking at the profile, this hardly looks flat but it’s as flat as it gets in the Vuelta. The cat 3 Alto del Collet in the middle of the stage shouldn’t be a worry to the sprint teams (or the break). They’ll want to pick up speed on the descent of the Collet as the intermediate sprint points are right near the end on the way into Tarragona.
The sprinters will like the fact that the run-in to the finish is fairly flat, although the finish itself is slightly uphill. What they won’t like is a series of tight bends between 1.5km and 900 metres and then a nasty-looking chicane about 400 metres from the line, which could get messy if the bunch isn’t suitably strung out. As ever at the Vuelta, there’s no such thing as a simple sprint stage.
Bit of trivia: 2010 was a better race for sprinters, with Mark Cavendish donning the first red jersey that year after winning the team time trial. He went on to win three sprint stages and the points classification.
Link: Official site
Header image: The Roman aqueduct, Tarragona