Another sprint finish awaits but the pecking order for the sprinters has yet to be established meaning uncertainty right until the finish line.
Stage 5 Review
Full marks for trying but yesterday’s breakaway got swallowed up, its gap chewed on by the teeth of Tony Martin’s chainrings but also plenty of work by Garmin-Sharp, Argos-Shimano and Orica-Greenedge. The Australian team won thanks to Michael Matthews who’s confirming the promise placed in him for some time. He’s one of a new generation of riders born in the 1990s and don’t be surprised to see him take another stage.
Stage 6 Preview
The Route: 175km south-by-southwest with the race heading to the Extremadura but it’s not extremely hard. A flatter route without obstacles.
The Finish: an urban run to the line complete with roundabouts and sharp corners. The hardest moment comes after the red kite when with 700m to go there’s a left turn but via a roundabout at the Plaza America and, instead of cutting through on the shortest line, the race takes the long way around.
The Scenario: it’s hard to look beyond a sprint finish. We’ve seen the bunch speeding to the line before in this race but it’s different today as this is a traditional bunch sprint with much flatter roads in a city centre. Consequently this is for the pure speedsters, think Nikias Arndt, Barry Markus or Leigh Howard but we might see Orica-Greenedge use Howard as a luxury leadout for Michael Matthews. The same question faces OPQS, do they use Gianni Meersman or instead set up Andrew Fenn, their 23 year old Briton? No such questions for Cofidis with their sprinter Adrien Petit. What do all these riders have in common? Yes they’re sprinters but they are 21, 22, 21, 22, 27, 23 and 22 respectively.
But let’s not be ageist, after all Lampre-Merida’s 30 year old Max Richeze is looking fast whilst Tyler Farrar is still 29 and if he sometimes seems to be ageing prematurely, like a corked bottle of wine, he’s still in the mix to win and should find the route is ideal for him.
Weather: warm but with the chance of rain, some showers are possible in the afternoon. Wind from the south-east offers the possibility of the crosswind but the forecast says it will be a light breeze.
TV: live coverage from 3.15 and the finish is expected around 5.45pm. Tune to see a probable sprint finish.
- Guijuelo, the departure town of today’s stage, is well known for the production of jamón ibérico (Iberian ham). Pata negra pigs are grown in the dehesa, a vast open space where they have to walk miles every day in search of the acorns that are their main food. Some dehesas are used to grow the bulls that take part in the bullfighting spectacles.
- Travelling from north to south, the race runs along the ancient Vía de la Plata, Silver Way. Built and paved by the Romans, this is one of the oldest roads in Spain. Much of today’s stage uses N630, a main road that connects Gijón and Seville.
- The bunch will cross the city of Béjar in the km 21,3 of the stage. Roberto Heras was born there. You may remember him for his Vuelta overall victories in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Being a Kelme, US Postal and Liberty Seguros rider, in 2005 he tested positive for EPO and was removed his last Vuelta win. The mishandling of his blood samples, however, resulted in the courts saying he should be reinstated as the winner of 2005 Vuelta (instead of Denis Menchov, who ended in second place and was considered winner for some years).
- After Béjar the races enters Extremadura, land of conquistadores. Being a poor region near the Atlantic ports of Andalusia, many people from these lands decided to travel overseas in the 16th century. Both Hernán Cortés (conqueror of Mexico) and Francisco Pizarro (conqueror of Peru) were born in Extremadura.
- The old town of Cáceres, today’s finish, was declared a World Heritage City by the UNESCO in 1986. The Monfragüe National Park, not far away, is one the best places to visit the typical Iberian landscape of hills and woodlands. The Cinereous Vulture is one of the main birds found there.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel