Today’s stage is flat compared to what is coming this weekend and offers breakaway riders and sprinters a chance to shine before the mountains arrive.
The Route: 150km makes for a short stage as the riders head to Ferrol, the Ciudad del Mar or city of the sea where they will head out for a circuit before returning into town and the finish line.
The Finish: generally flat in the approach. There’s a sharp corner at 1200m to go then a long finishing straight, the final kilometre rises, descends and then rises to the line but it’s no rollercoaster, riders will hardly have to change gears in response to the light change in incline. It should be a high speed finish.
The Scenario: a breakaway will go early but a sprint seems likely given time is running out. Many teams might be reluctant to work given John Degenkolb keeps winning but time is running out for the other teams and they’ll take hope from the fact that the German has not won his sprints by several bike lengths. But Argos Oil-Shimano have a good team effort with their lead out and will be hard to be beat.
For the others today is all about saving energy ahead of the weekend’s mountain stages but watch for crosswinds on the coast.
Weather: a mild day with temperatures of 23°C and a headwind for most of the stage, but it should be a breeze of 23km/h.
TV: 4.00-6.00pm, tune in for the sprint finish and like the riders, save your energy for the weekend’s mountain stages.
History: the last time the race visited Ferrol the winner was Djamolidine Abdoujaparov. He emerged from the Soviet system and became a sprint star of the 1990s, sometimes diving all over the road as he went for the line with his head down, earning the moniker of “The Tashkent Terror”, after the Uzbek capital. His wild style worked but he was also very fast and had a very low position on the bike, in fact similar to Mark Cavendish, although the Uzbek seemed to put more weight on the front wheel. He won the Tour de France green jersey three times and also took the points in the Vuelta and the Giro. Yet off the bike he was a timid and pious man, one of the few Muslims in professional cycling, he retired to keep pigeons in Italy but has made a few returns to the sport, most recently helping with rider development in Kazakhstan.