The first of two consecutive mid-mountain stages, today’s route offers a good course on familiar roads for many in the peloton and race convoy before a tricky uphill finish that is twice as steep as it looks.
Stage 4 Review: a sprint win for Matteo Trentin. What ever the Vuelta may be – more on this later today – it is not a big draw for the sprinters. But want a grand tour stage win? A world tour win? Then go for it in the Vuelta. Trentin makes Quick Step’s Vuelta even better.
The Route: familiar roads for many because this takes place on roads used by many teams for pre-season training camps. The climbs are steady, lots of 4-5% until the Coll de la Bandereta, listed as 4.6km at 7.6% but with some brief double-digit sections.
The Finish: uphill. The roadbook says 3.3km at an average gradient of 4.2%… the reality is 3.6km at 8.8% including some long 10% sections, a good example of why the first rule of stage previews is binning the roadbook. This is a sharp uphill finish on a twisting road that climbs quickly from the coastal resort to a chapel.
The Contenders: Julian Alaphilippe was supposed to win Stage 3 but finished way down instead. Still this kind of uphill finish suits him and the form isn’t absent, he’s been working hard for his team and had a good Vuelta a Burgos. Otherwise Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) are obvious picks for the uphill finish. Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) could be close too. There are already big time gaps so Sky could be happy to let an non-threatening move go clear but who to pick for the breakaway?
Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves, Julian Alaphilippe|
Woods, Poels, Moscon, Bardet, de la Cruz|
Weather: warm and sunny, a top temperature of 29°C.
TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. The finish forecast for 5.40pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: Benicàssim and Alcossebre are only 30 km away along the busy coastal roads, but the race heads inland to pay a visit to the Maestrat area, where guerrillas were active during the 19th and 20th centuries. Benicàssim might ring a bell if you’re into music, with the FIB festival held every July since 1995. The finish line is uphill, in the southern end of the Natural Park of Serra d’Irta. This mountain range is not very high (572 m above the Mediterranean), but has protected about 20 km of the coast from the voracious building frenzy happened in Spain in the last 20 years. The views from the top are spectacular: you’ll enjoy both the mountains and the sea while hiding from the sun in abandoned castles or watch towers. Totally worth a visit. Just north of the Serra d’Irta lies Peníscola, or, if you watch Game of Thrones, Meereen.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel