Stage 8 :: Sunday September 6, 2009
204.7km :: Alzira - Alto de Aitana
This stage is teh crazy. Eight... count 'em eight(!) rated climbs and, because you asked for it... because you demanded it... we will revist the town of Xàtiva. The Cat.3 Alto de Beniarres (600m), Cat.3 Calto de Margarida (620m), Cat.2 Calto de Tollos (830m), Cat.3 Alto de Castell de Castells (785m), Cat.2 Alto de Guadalest (680m), Cat.3 Alto de Cofirdes (980m), Cat.2 Alto de Tudons (1,025m) and the final leg breaker up the Cat.E (Especial... like Cuervo) Alto de Aitana (1,525m) are all on the menu in that order.
It's a feast for the climbers, and frankly, looking at it, I'm kinda shaking my head. The Vuelta 2009 race course... blind dogs and hams. And don't think this stage doesn't have a loop... it does... and don't think we won't see parts of today's stage in tomorrow's... we will. I'm all for reducing the quantities of transfers, but this is a little ridiculous.
My resources are still somewhat limited with a small laptop screen and blackberry bandwidth, but I've got screen captures on the flip side, Gavia's thoughts and Frinking's bon mots. Join me friends...
In labyrinths of coral caves, the echoes of the distant Gav comes willowing across the sand, and everything is green and submarine...
The Vuelta heads into the Sierra Aitana mountains for it first mountain-top finish of the race. This stage is a doozy with eight categorized climbs, including the finish on the Especial Alto de Aitana. Arguably the hardest stage of this Vuelta, this stage is make-or-break for the general classification riders, and significant time gaps could open by the summit of the final climb.
The start town of Alzira sits just south of Valencia in hot, dry country inland from the coast. Rainfall comes infrequently in flash floods and drought is frequent. All the same, Alzira is known for its agriculture and its oranges in particular. Situated along the banks of the Jùcar river, the city dates from the early centuries of the Common Era, and served as an administrative center for the Moors, who ruled the area for nearly 500 years. During the Crusades, James I of Aragon besieged and conquered the walled city in 1242. Alzira sits in the shadow the Sierras de la Murta, de Corbero, and las Aguyas and the surrounding terrain is a disordered mélange of steep mountains and canyons.
The final kilometers of the 1558 meter Alto de Aitana is closed to the public, because of a radar installation on its peak, but the climb has twice hosted a stage finish for the Vuelta a España in recent years. In 2001, Danish rider Klaus Möller of Milaneza won the stage ahead of Gilberto Simoni of Lampre-Daikin. Oscar Sevilla of Kelme-Barclaycard led the overall classification by just 25 seconds ahead of Angel Casero of Festina. The next visit to the Alto de Aitana came in 2004, when Leonardo Piepoli of Saunier Duval-Prodir won by 4 seconds ahead of Roberto Heras of Liberty Seguros. Alejandro Valverde finished sixth that day, 29 seconds behind Piepoli. Floyd Landis, meanwhile, lost time, but managed to defend the lead in the general classification ahead of Manuel Beltran and Francisco Mancebo.
Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 8 Preview at Steephill.tv
Baron von Frinkenstein would like you to know the following about Stage 8. He would also like to suggest that the stairway, can be treacherous.
The Eneco Tour is finally over! The Vuelta starts! Mountains! We are missing a goat here but what a lovely course. 4 3categorie mountains and 2 secondcategorie mountains. Le desert?? 21km climbing with 5,4%! Woow. That's serious. Piepoli won here in 2004 so there will be a lot of steep sections in the climb. It's also the longest stage in the Vuelta with 208km of suffering. So can't wait till the stage begins..
Let's get right to it shall we?