Vuelta Stage 13 Preview

Friday, 6 September 2013

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
Philippe Gilbert world champion du monde
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.

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.

Daily Díaz

  • 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

Overall Classification

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Samuel G September 6, 2013 at 10:18 am

That’s a cruel finish!
Won’t it be amazing if Gilbert wins two stages at the Vuelta and the Arc en Ciel two years in a row? What do people think about his chances in Firenze? On the one hand he is a former winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on the other the Firenze course looks even harder than LBL, some are saying there is just too much climbing km in total for him.

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Ian September 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

that’s not the finish in the graphic above, that climb is 50km from the finish.. the finish does kick up a little though.

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Samuel G September 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

yep I was meaning the sneaky little kick at the end, no wonder there aren’t so many pure sprinters at La Vuelta this year. Madrid looks good for them but all the other ‘flat’ stages have been unpredictable, in keeping with recent efforts to make the spanish tour in general more appealing to fans, which seems to be working

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Ian September 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

I think the Rat Penat could break things up and drop the sprinters – 10.6% average with 16% in the middle should see some hard attacks at the front and if some GC guys really go for it there could be a reduced peloton go to the finish, maybe 30 or 40 guys. It reminds me of stage 12 in the Tour last year up the Mount-Saint-Claire when only 20 went on to contest the finish, with only Sagan and Greipel making it of the sprinters.

Granted it is 50km from the finish but if they get themselves sorted and push on they may not be caught with possible crosswinds on the coast to help. If so, I can see Gilbert being up there and pushing for his 2nd stage in a row, with that kick up in the last 400m in mind. He will be full of confidence now and I can see him being right in the mix again. Gerrans if he has recovered enough from his crash last week should be up there too.

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Bundle September 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

Today’s little climb in the end means sprinters, pure or not, can’t win. Moreno and Cancellara are more likely winners than Matthews, I think. Which also means there will not be a general regrouping after the bunch breaks on the Rat Penat. Time bonuses are also important, so we can’t be surprised to see Valverde and Purito in the mix. Plus all the Ardennes guys, who are in the Vuelta and in large numbers, trying to measure themselves for Firenze… Interesting day.

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TourDeUtah September 6, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Matthews is not a pure sprinter. He is a sprinter who can climb as evidenced by his two tour of utah stage wins that included a long cat1 climb 20k from the finish, plus an uphill finish in a circuit race.. Think Simon Gerrans

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Steppings September 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I was very happy to see Pip win yesterday with perfect timing to the line, maybe a repeat performance today? Would never count him out for the Worlds either, its been a long haul but his form seems to be coming very good.

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Angela September 6, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Great to see one of your picks for the year coming good! Only 21 as all; what talent.

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