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Vuelta Stage 12 Preview: Almería - Alto de Velefique

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Stage 12 :: Friday September 11, 2009
179km :: Almería - Alto de Velefique

Wow, I get to haul out the red highlighter again.  Crazy mountain stage?  Yep.  Looping course that re-rides a Cat.1 climb?  You betcha.  Is it September? Jawohl! Si!  Must be the Vuelta.

The course is a big balloon shaped beast, that invovles two trips up the Alto de Velefique (which I believe translates to "Height of the Effete Bicyclist") with the last trip up a summit finish.  The backside of this beast though comprises a nasty, long hard 28km slog up the Alto de Calar.  None of this looks particularly pleasant, especially considering how the next few days are going to shape up for these guys.  The road points up... only... for quite some time now.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait... When the swells from the northwest came slashing... When afternoon came Gavia was surfing again... In the face of a hurricane West Wind.

The Vuelta a España heads back into the mountains with this stage, the first of three difficult mountain-top finishes. When it comes to climbing, the Vuelta does not mess around. The stage begins in Almería on the coast, then heads inland to the Sierra de los Filabres mountain range. The riders will climb the 13.3 kilometer Alto de Velefique twice during this stage which traces out a lollipop-shaped course. The stage also includes the category 1 Alto Calar Alto and the category 3 Alto de Castro de Filabres, and there is hardly a flat kilometer to be found anywhere on the profile. The general classification should change by the finish on the Alto de Velefique and a climber will celebrate the stage victory.

Almería sits on the coast surrounded by mountain ranges. The city center lies southwest of the Cabo de Gata, a volcanic point that extends into the Mediterranean. The Capa de Gata-Níjar Natural park combines the coastal wetlands and nearshore marine environments into a wildlife preserve. The park is rich with migratory birds, volcanic rock formations, and undersea life. The city of Almería dates from 955 CE and originated as a coastal fortress city. Ruins of the Moorish Alcazaba, or walled fortress, remain and Almería boasts the second largest Moorish citadel in Andalucia. Roughly translated, Almería means City of Mirror in Arabic, in an allusion to its seaside location. Almería also has the largest nude beach in Europe, El Playazo.

Almería has hosted the Vuelta a España on 15 occasions in recent years. The most recent visit came in 2006 and included the Calar Alto. Igor Antón of Euskaltel-Euskadi celebrated victory on the mountain-top finish of that stage. The Alto de Velefique which appears twice in this year’s Almería stage makes its Vuelta a España début this year. On the first pass, the climb is rated category 1, while at the finale, it receives an Especial rating. The categories assigned to the climbs frequently vary depending on when they occur within a particular stage.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 12 Preview at Steephill.tv

Feeeeeeed myyyyyyy... Frinkenstein...

Cancel all your meetings. Move to a place, with tv and internet, where they can't find you. Pretend you have the swine flu, Question your own mental capability in front of your boss, hire a stand-in, pretend you have to give birth, say you are the lucky(?) one who compete in Big Brother and of course you are send away after 3 days, let Chrash [ed. I think he means Crashdan] have a tallk with your boss, shut your windows because this is 3day firework. 3 unbelievable hard stages in a row.

2 first categorie climbs and the finish on a horse, :), categorie climb. The second climb is 26.7! km long with a gradient of 4.5% while the steepest parts are 10%. Le Velelique is less long but steeper and harder. 13.3 km climbing wih an average gradient of 7.5%. Maximum gradient is 13%. It's like they say: Only available for Mountaingoats.

And well.. The Netherlands is as flat as a pancake, ooh man I love that expression, we, The Dutch, have the man! for tomorrow/today/yesterday for the Aussies, to win here.. BooooooBooooooo! Cheers mate.

That's right folks, a horse category climb and no hopes of echolons. I think we have a good race ahead of us. I'm feverished, or the way you want to spell it.