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Vuelta Stage 18 Preview: Talavera de la Reina - Ávila

Stage 18 :: Thursday September 17, 2009
165.0km :: Talavera de la Reina - Ávila

A saucy win for Roux! Nice to see FdJ at the sharp end of the race. Hopefully, we can now put the majority of Frinky's Zz's to bed and get some more interesting racing going. We have some categorized climbs tomorrow and the return of the dreaded Vuelta loop race course.

All I know is, this Valverde character comes out of thin air in the middle of a [goshdarn] alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him?! With light coming out of his mouth!

Gavia Local boy Juan knows about the black blood of the earth...

Tired of flat and hot stages in La Mancha, the Vuelta heads north to the mountainous area of southern Castilla- León. Here we find the highest peaks in the center of Spain, forming a mountain range called Sistema Central, which always hosts the last mountain stages before the finish in Madrid. The first of two stages in the Sistema Central begins in Talavera de la Reina and after 165 kilometers of difficult riding it finishes in Ávila. There’s certainly some climbing terrain for a brave rider to attack early, but most GC contenders will wait for the harder gradients of tomorrow. The biggest climb today, the first category Puerto de Mijares is more than 100 kilometers from the finish line, so the climbers will think twice (or not think at all) before attacking here.

Talavera de la Reina is a big town and has been the economic center of the region of Toledo since the times of the Roman Empire. It hosted the 2008 Spanish Championships, where Alejando Valverde got the yellow and red jersey, as well as some stages in the Vuelta. In fact, two years ago, there was a very similar stage, beginning in Talavera and climbing Mijares but with 20 kilometers of flat section before the finish in Ávila.

The city of Ávila is one of the most beautiful old towns in Spain and was declared a World Heritage site in 1985. It boasts the famous Walls of Ávila, built in the Middle Ages to protect the city from the Muslims of Al-Andalus. Now it is the perfect place for riding a bike, and the organizers have frequently placed a circuit around the town before the finish line. The cobblestones and steep sections were the ingredients to create  exciting stage endings in previous editions of the Vuelta a España. Did I mention the past? Sure: Ávila has proudly hosted the race 22 times before, seeing great riders such as Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon and Tony Rominger win here. A good example of what Ávila can offer us is the stage from 1999, with an incredible attack by Frank Vandenbroucke (the great VDB, early in his career). The most recent time Ávila hosted a stage was in 2007. Luis Pérez of Andalucia won that day, after a solo ride in the final loop around the town.

Courtesy of Gavia's Juan's Stage 18 Preview at

Frinking has a six demon bag, but only Frinking knows what's inside of it...

Ok less zzzzz than I thought. With 2 Dutch in the breakaway, GP Wallonie, and Prinsjesdag it was quite exciting! To bad Maaskant attack was 200meters to early but Bravo for Roux. Very impresive! Also 2 chrashec in GC land. Gesink and Mosquera are injured. Gow is that going to be tomorrow?

Next stage is stage 18. Strange stages. Perfect suitable for breakaways. Mountains are not to hard and the finish is too far from the tops to give it a go as GC. Or is Samsan attacking the GC victims? You'll never know

That's right... you'll never know!