From a summit finish to a flat finish in the space of two days, what else would we expect from La Vuelta?
Friday 28th August: Stage 7 – Jódar to La Alpujarra, 188.3km, high mountains
This is one of those deceptively easy looking stages in the route book. I mean, one Cat 3 and a Cat 1 summit finish don’t look that scary when you compare it with what is in store later on, do they? But don’t be deceived, this firt foray into the mountains proper is a hard 188.3km route, and the finish at the Alto de Capileira is just plain nasty. At 20km it’s one of the first long climbs of this year’s edition and though it only averages 5% due to 5km of flat halfway up, there are steeper ramps, the steepest at 14% coming with 2km to go. It could be a day for the breakaway, but I think we’ll more than likely see the red jersey favourites battle this one out. I hope they’ve done their recon.
Saturday 29th August: Stage 8 – Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia, 182.5km, rolling
I know it doesn’t look like it but this could be a sprinters day. Well you know, the sort of sprinter that copes well with a technical, hilly finishing circuit (we’re looking at you, Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb).
The peloton are basically on the descent for the first 110km and then race towards the finishing circuit, which contains two ascents of the Cat 3 Cresta del Gallo. It’s a 5km leg breaker, averaging nearly 7% with a technical descent that will cause problems. You can be sure that non-sprinters will be racing these at speed to try to dislodge the sprinters before the 12km run for home. Who might take the role of driving the pace? Well, Murcia is Alejando Valverde‘s home town and he’d surely love a win here. Expect a long, thin, navy blue line at the front.
Link: Official race website
Header image:Órgiva via wikimedia