Look at the profile above and the two climbs probably stand out. Now look closely at the finish for the little dot of red at the finish in Casteldefels. It’s a small uphill finish.
Stage 12 Review
Yesterday’s preview said a sprint finish was the likely option but far from certain. In the end we got a bunch sprint but a most unlikely scenario with Philippe Gilbert winning. He has a good sprint on him – witness his Paris-Tours win where he got the better of Tom Boonen – and he needed it to pass Edvald Boasson Hagen on the uphill finish in Taragona. Of course he’d like to have won more but a grand tour stage is good going and allows Gilbert to escape the infamy of not having won anything as world champion, a rare feat not seen for years.
Philippe Gilbert needed 347 days for his 1st victory after world title. Longest since 1994 world champ Luc Leblanc (next win after 651 days)
— Infostrada Sports (@Infostrada2016) September 5, 2013
It means we can look beyond the Vuelta where Gilbert’s odds of a repeat in Firenze are shortening. Note Nicolas Roche took second in the intermediate sprint in Port Aventura to take back two seconds, symbolic if anything else.
The Route: the race leaves Valls to head east towards Barcelona but takes a winding route to include several climbs and includes nearly 2,500m of vertical climbing. The Alto del Rat Penat is a hard climb, just 4.3km but averaging 10% and peaking at 16%.
The Finish: an urban run followed by an uphill run to the line. It’s not dissimilar to yesterday’s finish as it climbs to the line.
The Scenario: a sprint finish? It’s the most likely option. It’s uphill to the line so watch for Michael Matthews, Gianni Meersman and Boasson Hagen amongst others, especially as they can get over the earlier climbs of the day.
Weather: sunny and warm with a breeze coming in off the coast meaning a slight crosswind during the day.
TV: as usual the finish is planned for 5.45pm with the Rat Penat climb around 4.20pm Euro time.
- Catalonia, no matter the etymology of Catalunya, is a land of castells (castles). Human castles, to be precise, originated in Valls, departure town of today’s stage. A group of people (known as colla) put on a team effort to build one of those human towers, usually with a young boy or girl on top of it. Many Catalan towns have their own colla, and competitions are a popular entertainment.
- Xavier Tondo, the cyclist who passed away in 2011, was born in Valls in 1978. After spending some years in Portuguese and minor Spanish teams, in 2010 he joined Cervélo, and Movistar next year. Beñat Intxausti was with him when an accident killed Tondo in Sierra Nevada at the age of 32.
- Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine, similar to French champagne, and widely used in all kind of celebrations (to receive the New Year, for example). It is produced mostly in Catalonia, especially in the Penedès area, not far away from Barcelona. Vilafranca del Penedès (km 52,3) and Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (km 66,4) concentrate many of the cellars that produce the appreciated Catalan cava.
- The race hits the Alto del Rat Penat in km 119,1 (49,9 to the finish line). Rat penat is Catalan for “bat”. This animal is present in many flags and coats of arms of cities or provinces in Eastern Spain. Valencia is the biggest Spanish city to have a bat in its symbols.
- In km 146,7 (22,3 to the finish line) the peloton will arrive to Sitges. This coastal town has been a gay-friendly place for a long time. It is also home to the Sitges Film Festival, held every October and specialized in fantasy and horror movies.
Many thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel