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Vuelta Stage 5 Preview: Taragonna - Vinaròs

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Stage 5 :: Tuesday September 2, 2009
174km :: Taragonna - Vinaròs

The race in Spain rolls mainly in the actual country of Spain now. ¡Adiós, mis amigos holandeses, y hola mis hermanos españoles!  We're spending the day executing the largest transfer of any stage race this year, that I can think of.  Imagine having to load and move all that gear from Holland to the Mediterranean coast of Spain in 24 hours.  The logistics must be horrific.  Now do it while having to figure out if your team can even toe the starting line after that ghastly crash.  It's enough to make a DS reach for a second pack of Gauloises.

We leave the cheese commentary behind now and focus on the dry and dusty country south of the Pyrenees, with a 174km stage that runs from Taragonna to Vinaròs, dipping briefly inland before heading out back to the coast.  Weather report for Vinaròs tomorow: 95°F and 70% humidity.  Maybe wet Dutch streets aren't so bad after all.

Hit me with your best shot, Gav, why don't you hit me with your best shot.

The Vuelta returns home to Spain after its foreign adventures in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. This first Spanish stage of the Vuelta a España runs along the Meditarranean coast between Tarragona and Vinaròs. The course loops into the coastal mountains and the riders will climb the category 2 Coll de Fatxas early in the stage. The majority of the stage crosses flat and rolling terrain, and the stage descends to the finish at Vinaròs. The profile looks perfect for a breakaway to succeed as the rolling terrain and early climb will likely rule out the sprinters.

Tarragona sits on the Meditarranean coast just south of Barcelona, which hosted a Tour de France finish earlier this summer. Roman ruins dot the city, which held a position of wealth and prominence during the time of Augustus and was known for its vineyards and warm weather. The stage heads inland into the hills before returning to the coast for the finish in Vinaròs. Until the early 20th century, Vinaròs had extensive vineyard lands, but Phylloxera put an end to wine-growing in the area. With its white sand beaches and calm waters, Vinaròs is a favorite among tourists. It also hosts a large commercial fishing fleet and is known for its fresh prawns.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 5 Preview at Steephill.tv

Frinking takes a moment from his tragic hunt for the missing Enecobecco, to clue us into his thoughts on all things Spain.  Join me quickly at Frinking's Corner...

Than there is the rest day. They have to travvel 1400km from Luik to Tarragona. The Tarrogano stage and the stage after that are some heavy sprintstage. They know they are in Spain so it's up and down here. Probably a sprintstage  but the breakaways are not completly ruled out.

The stage is flat to rolling with only 1000 vertical meters combined in terms of climbing.  Most of it is flat though, and I expect, extremely hot.

 

I'm not sure what the differences are for the Vuelta in terms of mountains categorization, I have a good feeling for the Giro and the Tour, but that first 15m Cat.4 in Holland has me completely thrown for how these things are rated. The Cat.2 climb of the Coll de Fatxas, 505m occures 49km into the race, so it won't have any bearing whatsoever on the final outcome. I can't really find any information on it though so I don't know how steep the gradient is. Just before the end is the Alto de la Ermita as well, just as high as the Fatxas, but I suspect not as steep as it doesn't rate any categorization at all. Maybe that will cause a break that could take it from the full teams.