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Vuelta Stage 4 Preview: Venlo - Lieja (Liege)

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Stage 4 :: Tuesday September 1, 2009
225.5km :: Venlo - Liege

Stage four of the Vuelta and I'm already sort of scratching my head. A lot of the Giro stages looked like "classics" stages. The Vuelta is outright stealing Classics routes. What's on deck for tomorrow? Two trips up the Cauberg and a circuit through Liege.

I suppose though, if you're in the area, and you're racing bikes, why wouldn't you want to include some of the ubiquitous bergs and hellingen from those "Belgian Training Rides" that happen in the spring.

In other news, the education of the Cafe in the area of Dutch cheese continues.  I'm told that making the mistake of suggesting that Emmentaller comes from the city of Emmen means that I will be chased by angry mobs through the streets of Holland, and Will insists the Swiss were annoyed by American's dictating smaller holes should be allowed for his precious cheese.  This lactose intolerance is getting nasty.

Some say Gavia can make cheese from cows from Emmen, Holland AND call it Emmentaller...

The Vuelta pays homage to the Ardennes classics with this stage, which combines elements of the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The stage begins in the Netherlands in Venlo and travels southwest to finish in the Belgian city of Liège. Along the way, the riders face two trips up the Cauberg, the Mont Theux, and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas. Though the finish is flat, the roads in the Ardennes region are constantly up and down and the stage is unlikely to end in a sprint.

Liège has long served as an industrial center in Belgium and is situated in the Meuse River valley. The Côte de Saint-Nicolas sits in the Tilleur neighborhood, where many Italian emigrants live. The Italians came to Liège to work in the many coal mines in the area. The city’s name, Liège, derives in the roundabout way of such things from the Latin and Germanic words for “people,” and it is the second largest city in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Liège remains a center of the steel industry, though steel production proceeds on a far smaller scale than in the past. With this year’s visit of the Vuelta, Liège has hosted all three of cycling’s grand tours, a claim which few, if any, other cities in Europe can make.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 4 Preview at Steephill.tv

In Amsterdam, did Frinkster stare and a stately pleasure dome declare... and if you haven't seen a Dutch pleasure dome... well, you're missing out.

Stage 4 on the other hand is heavy or so say Gesink. You can't win the Vuelta on this Amstel/Luik trail but you certainly can lose him. A lot of nasty steep hills. Unfortunately the finish is 13km from the last hill.

Unfortunately, my stage mapping skills are still hindered by Unipublic's lack of desire to explain clearly how the stage winds through the town of Liege.  I have the finish line ending where I think it is, but there's an entire circuit around the city I couldn't figure out.  Sorry guys...