Stage 3: Marin -- Dumbria 176.4km
Today the Vuelta starts to flex its muscles. It's a gorgeous coastal run to Mirador de Ézaro, and a climb finish to boot.
What's It About?
The organizers are done throwing bones to the misfits. Power dudes, you had your crono day. Sprinters, I'm not sure why you're even here, but you got your little gift today. Now make way for the Vuelta to do real Vuelta things. Namely, go uphill.
Sure, it's really a transitional week 1 postcard stage that will probably do more for the local tourist economy of Galicia than for the race's eventual outcome. But it promises to be a fun one regardless.
ChrisF's Dirt and Rock Pairings
Where we never take things for granite.
Even more immense and remarkable is the case of the O Grove isthmus, an island and sand barrier have created a space that is protected from waves, where tides go in and out: the Intertidal Umia-O Grove Complex. This is a perfect example of the close relationship between geo-diversity and bio-diversity. The route passes through the Muros and Noia estuaries, in the mouth of the Tambre River, and then goes into the granite landscapes of the Xallas River Valley.
This part of the stage passes through platforms formed by the sea during its successive changes in level, a history that is intrinsically linked to that of the estuaries. But the Xallas River deserves a special mention: from the Ezaro Viewpoint, the finish-line for this stage, one can observe that the Xallas River is one of the few rivers in the world that flows out into the sea in the form of a waterfall… more than 40 metres high!
Posted one last time for posterity...
But there's one feature that will define the stage -- the little dragon tail at the end.
The first couple climbs may or not sort things out much. Not likely the first one other than giving the sprinters an excuse to form a Gruppetto of Sorrow. The cat-2 climb of the Alto del Paxareiras is 9km at a manageable gradient. But the final 1.8km climb to the Mirador de Ézaro are a full-on 13.8 percent, something straight out of Amstel Gold or what have you. The Bigs won't do much more than watch each other, but the frisky stage-hunters will smell glory on the horizon.
Whom Does It Favor?
Conor previewed the mountain stage hopefuls, and the answer is likely to come from there. It's a lot of guys. But like I said, the main GC hopefuls won't want to burn matches here. But I'll toss out a few names: Michal Kwiatkowski, Miguel Angel Lopez, Jan Bakelants, Gianluca Brambilla, Pierre Rolland, and Hugh Carthy strike me as a list of guys who might be free to empty their reserves on this day.
Pick to Win
Brambilla. Etixx like to make their mark early