Sandwiched between yesterday’s behemoth of a stage and the upcoming triptych from hell, these two days will be a positive balm for aching muscles. It’s good to know the Vuelta organisers do have a soft centre to their rocky hearts.
Thursday 3rd September: Stage 12 – Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra to Lleida, 172.5km, flat
Categorised as flat – well, Vuelta flat anyway – and that means a sprint stage in anyone’s book. Basically it’s a gentle roll downhill interrupted by the cat 2 Coll de Bóixols and another little lump with 50km to go. Both are early enough not to cause much concern to the sprinters, and for once the run to the finish in Lleida is straightforward. This is the last chance until Madrid for the fast men. Could it be the Mighty Degenkolb’s day at last?
Friday 4th September: Stage 13 – Calatayud to Tarazona, 178km, medium mountains
Definitely lumpy and probably one where the peloton will be happy for the breakaway to ride for the win. This being the case it will be fast-paced at the start as everyone tries to make the front group. They pass over a cat 3 and the cat 1 Alto de Beratón, but it’s the cat 3 Alto de Moncayo at 35km to go which should see the attacks amongst the GC group. The road kicks up a little in the last 3km, but eases to a flat final 1,000m to the line. If the break doesn’t have a musette full of minutes in hand they could get caught in the crossfire.
Link: Official race website
Header image: Camps Elisis in Lleida via M Campo Flickr