The final stage of the 2012 Vuelta and like the Tour de France, this is a victory lap style procession into the national capital that’s only 115km and so only the shortest preview is needed. It’s still fast and furious on the finishing circuit but the overall result is not expected to change.
The Route: a start in the mountain town of Cercedilla sees the race descend into Madrid where there are four finishing circuits to complete.
The Finish: flat. The race speeds past the Plaza de Cibeles and Madrid town hall and does a lap up and down, passing the sloping office buildings of the Puerta de Europa, two towers built diagonally which look like they might fall over but still manage to stay upright, symbolic perhaps of the banks who occupy them.
The Scenario: a few celebrations along the way before the speed picks up and the sprinters get their chance in what is a criterium tacked on to the end of three weeks of racing across Spain. Maybe Sky’s Ben Swift will finally collect a win after a string of placings but the fast finish will suit John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano and Liquigas-Cannondale’s Elia Viviani.
Weather: a warm 29°C and a gentle breeze.
TV: 4.00-6.00pm Euro time but tune in for the last hour to catch the sprint.
Give that man a beer: if he makes it to Madrid, Lotto-Belisol’s Adam Hansen will become the only rider to complete all three grand tours in 2012.
Chapeau: it’s David Moncoutié’s last day of racing, ending a career that began in 1997. Back then the Spice Girls and the notorious BIG topped the charts, a 56k dial up modem promised “blazing downloads” and Apple was regarded as a company with its best days behind it, so much that it said it would install Micrsoft’s Internet Explorer as the default browser on all Macintosh computers. Interestingly when Moncoutié packed his suitcase for the Vuelta he said he was taking his “walkman”.
The Jerseys: I’ll return to the subject but the other jerseys in the race have not got much attention. Well done to Simon Clarke (Orica-Greenedge) for his mountains jersey and Joaquim Rodriguez will get the points jersey as a consolation.