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Vuelta Stage 4: Lazing On a Sunny Afternoon

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... in the summer time...

Jaime Reina, AFP/Getty

Stage 4: Betanzos -- San Andrés de Teixido, 176.4km

A wee bit more coastline, a wee bit more climbing. Another hot day under the Spanish sun.

What's It About?

The fourth stage of the Vuelta a España meanders a bit inland and northward as the race draws away from the west coast of Spain a wee bit as the race poises itself for a stab across the north of the country. It's a serpentine 176km route to the northern limits of Galicia, and another day at the beach -- literally. But not figuratively.

ChrisF's Dirt and Rock Pairings

Where we never take things for granite.

During the last part of the stage, in the Ortigueira Estuary, the peloton has to go through an area that Geologists from all over the world visit on a regular basis: the Cape Ortegal complex. Among many other rocks are some relatively mysterious rocks, called Amphibolites, that are metamorphic rocks formed around 70 kilometres deep, in the "roots" of a mountain range. But the truly amazing thing about these rocks from Cape Ortegal is that they are about 1.2 billion years old. Geologists work hard to understand every last detail, as they contain the very rare information from those times in which the first continents were formed and the first living organisms came to exist.

As if this were not enough, the large faults that formed the Galician coastline provide us with the Vixia de Herbeira cliffs at San Andres de Teixido, right at the end of the stage. These cliffs are over 610 metres tall and are the tallest cliffs in Europe, with a larger elevation than most Norwegian Fjords.

By the way, they have a term of the day feature at the Vuelta site. Could this race be any cooler?

Amphibolite. Metamorphic rock formed about 70 kilometres deep, in the roots of a mountain range, in conditions with very high pressure and high temperature. Its characteristic minerals are amphiboles, which give it a very dark colour and, in turn, its nickname of "black granite" within the region.

Course Features

Where are we now?

Stage 4 map Vuelta

And the down-and-dirty:

Stage 4 Vuelta profile

Like I said, a bit more of the same, and then a dash more. The early climbs are both forgettable to all but the KOM jersey hunters, but the final ascent will draw out a bit of the action. The final uphill to the Alto Mirador de Veixia is a not-at-all-vexing 4.8% for 11km. Ultimately this is a long sprint for our GC heroes, should they choose to do so, which they won't until absolutely necessary.

Whom Does It Favor?

Breakaway riders will stand a chance of surviving on this climbable terrain, but if they don't, look for some sort of a sprint among the bigs. Valverde will stand a chance. A few others looking good today were Brambilla, Froome and maybe Louis Meintjes. Just guessing from there.

Pick to Win

Brambilla. Etixx like to make their mark early.

What, this is what I said yesterday? Well too bad, I'm going to keep saying it until I am right. I call this my Eddy Boss FSA DS strategy.