The race heads into the mountains and the Sierra de Cazorla range but as lively as the profile looks this is merely a warm-up for the upcoming stages. It’s a day for the likes of Alejandro Valverde but can Peter Sagan track him again?
Stage 5 Wrap: a win for Caleb Ewan, his first of many and the manner of the win shows why. He was clearly the fastest sprinter and won on an uphill slope that was a test of power rather than luck. Sometimes it’s possible to come off the right wheel at the right time and snipe a win but this wasn’t one of those lucky days. Orica-Greenedge and Giant-Alpecin had opposing days, Ewan beat John Degenkolb but Tom Dumoulin took the red jersey off Esteban Chaves after the Dutchman kept the right side of a split in the peloton. The Australian team are mirroring their magic start to the Giro. It’s still a wonder why they’re Orica-YourNameHere given their success rate in high profile races. As for Dumoulin, a nice reward but it’ll be hard to hold for long with the likes of Alejandro Valverde hovering.
The Route: 200km and into the mountains. The Alto de Baeza is 11.8km long at a gentle 3.8% and regular too, the slope doesn’t ever go beyond 5%. After the town of Torreperogil the road drops down to the valley and the rises again but for all the y-axis action on the profile it’s a 3% slope most of the time, a gentle rise.
The Finish: the race runs into the town of Cazorla, first a light descent and then the road picks up. Instead of taking the main road around town it heads straight into Cazorla and this short cut means steeper roads. There’s a nasty pitch of about 9% for a kilometre and some tight bends too. It eases out of town on the road to Iruela but we’re talking 5-6%. There there’s a right hand turn with 500m to go and it climbs all the way up to the line.
The Contenders: it’s not a repeat of Monday’s finish but it is similar with some climbing and steep sections as the race winds its way through the finish town so taking the riders who did well there is the obvious place to start.
Alejandro Valverde has it all right now with good form, a tactical sense, a strong team, confidence and more. He’s also closing in on the red jersey and that time bonus is an added motivation too. Peter Sagan can’t be ruled out, at pixel time he’s 300-1 with one bookmaker and long odds with others too but give his performance on Monday that seems a curious price especially as today’s finish isn’t as steep nor as long. Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez have been close but both are suited to steeper, harder finishes than this. Nicolas Roche has been looking frisky and once upon a time he packed a good sprint which could be deployed rather than attacking and being reeled in where he could be up against his cousin Dan Martin he, didn’t feature in Vejer the other day but if luck’s on his side then he should.
There’s the chance a breakaway sticks too with half the field over 15 minutes down on GC but picking a winner here is a lottery, spin the startlist wheel and take your pick.
|Dan Martin, Dani Moreno, Peter Sagan|
|Rodriguez, Roche, Barbero, Simon|
Weather: warm and sunny with top temperatures of 33°C. The heat doesn’t make it easy but it’s not infernal and riders have had a week in the region to acclimatise so far.
TV: with the finish forecast for 5.40pm Eurotime tune in by 5.00pm to watch the tension rise on the run in to the finish. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.
Daily Díaz: this stage starts in Córdoba, capital city of the ancient Caliphate, and finishes in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. This protected area, the largest in Spain, is a great place to observe the Iberian fauna: the Spanish ibex and fallow deers are easy to spot, if you’re patient and not too noisy. The wild boars aren’t shy, and some will get very close to you in hope of some free food. Let me insist: this is one of the best places to enjoy the Iberian Mediterranean wildlife. These mountains serve also as water divide between the rivers which flow to the Atlantic (such as the Guadalquivir) or to the Mediterranean (such as the Segura). See this video to get a feel of the landscape.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel