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Quick Vuelta Preview

I'm sorry that I don't have more time to go in depth on this, but I'm throwing this together during lunch. It should be enough to get the ball rolling anyway.

I've always liked the Vuelta because it differs from the other 2 grand tours in a few, significant ways. The stages tend to be shorter, more intense and high paced, and more haphazard from the routine lay out of the Tour (first week = sprints, second week = mts, third week = mts/sprints/TT). Then add in the heat and wind that occurs on a daily basis, along with the fact that most of the riders have been going since March and April, and you've got some brutality on wheels going. So.............

Stage 1 - 7.3K Team Time Trial. Dead flat stage, but how much separation can there be in 4.5 miles? Probably not much unless a crossing gate comes down at the wrong time.

Stage 2 - 176K. Two cat 3 climbs in the first 30K, rolling downhill the rest of the way. Sprinters are already working hard for their points.

Stage 3 - 219K, two cat 3's in the first 37K. See above.

Stage 4 - 142Ks of bumps, nothing categorized but very few flat sections either. If there's a headwind this stage is going to suck for anyone off the back.

Stage 5 - 178K, two cat 1's followed by a cat 2 and finishing on an HC. Wheeeeeeeeee! How close is Madrid?

Stage 6 - 177K, not as bumpy as stage 4, some flat spots. Finally a respite.

Stage 7 - 154.2K (that .2 must be important). Flattish start, slight uphill, lots of downhill, finish with a 19K HC climb. Lovely - legs are starting to gush squid ink.

Stage 8 - 181.6K (why aren't they just rounding up?). Somewhat flattish, somewhat lumpy, cat 3 right in the middle just before they get fed.

Stage 9 - 207.4K and a total kick in the nuts. Cat 3, cat 1, cat 1, cat 3, HC, finish on a 1. Should we do an over / under poll on when Petacchi pulls out? That's not a shot at him either, I'm just wondering if during this stage we hear the crack all the way over here, as his surgically repaired kneecap explodes like a fragmentation grenade.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Rest Day

Stage 10 - 199.3K easing back into it, bumpy but with only a cat 3 near the end. Some go getters will go away early and most riders will be happy to see them go.

Stage 11 - 173.6K. Starts off kind of ugly (cat 2, 1 and 3 in the first 86k) but then finishes flatly over the last 25k or so.

Stage 12 - 169.3K, one cat 3 in there just to remind everyone that the plains in spain are considerably insane, but the flat finish is tame.

Stage 13 - 180K. Three cat 3s, nicely spaced, sprinters finish (if any are left at this point).

Stage 14 - 33K ITT, one cat 3 in there to break things up but otherwise unremarkable profile. Nice that they don't have to go all out for an hour.

Stage 15 - 182K and up and down, down, down, down, finish.

Rest Day - And there was much rejoicing (yay)

Stage 16 - 145K. Short, but luckily they remembered to shove a 1, 1, and HC finish in there. So considerate.

Stage 17 - 166.7K. 1, 3, and 1 climbs but with a downhill run to the end.

Stage 18 - 153.1K. Hey look, an HC finish! Haven't had one of those in a while. And for your enjoyment, a 3 and a 2 before that so your legs will be nice a loose. Viva Espana!

Stage 19 - 206.3K. Is that really necessary? Yes it is - in addition to the 2, 3, and 3 that is obligatory by this point. Why does it seem like Spain has the same topography of Nepal?

Stage 20 - 27.5K ITT. Finally the Gods have mercy and do not include any rated climbs. To even it out they've sprinkled tacks along the road at various points.

Stage 21 - 142.2K. Finally..........Madrid. Madre de Dios, I thought we'd never see you.