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Vuelta Stage 9: Rearranging the Deck Chairs

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Stage 9: Cistierno — Oviedo/Alto del Naranco, 181.5km

The real deal is coming, but there's still time to mess around for one last day.

What's It About?

Heading to Oviedo, the Asturian Capital, with a few climbs, including one to end the day. Probably not a decisive one, and with the huge climbs starting the next day that's just as well.

ChrisF's Dirt and Rock Pairings

Where we never takes things for granite.

The fact that rocks can bend, without breaking, is one of the Earth's many mysteries.

Oh? Do tell...

Anyone who doubts this should take a ride in the Vuelta helicopter and watch the first part of the stage from the sky in order to fully appreciate just how rocks bend. And, for those who cannot fly over the area, they can always look at a satellite image or a geological map, those wonderfully mysterious portraits of the Earth where rocks, structures and the territory's age are depicted. If we add the Cantabrian mountain range to this complex structure, we have all the ingredients for the rivers and glaciers to form a truly exceptional landscape. The almost vertical walls and deep valleys accompany us throughout most of the stage.

Pretty cool!

To finish this stage, between Olloniego and Oviedo, we come across El Caleyu, an amber deposit from the Early Cretaceous period (100 million years ago) with very well-preserved insect and arthropoda fossils. These deposits provide information regarding a key moment in the planet's history, the moment when plants that were pollinated by insects appeared, plants that changed the appearance of every continent.
Stage term: Amber. Semiprecious stone composed of fossilised vegetable resin that comes mainly from the remains of conifers and some angiosperms.

Course Features

Map and Profile time.

Stage 9 map

Stage 9 profile

Nothing too daunting, compared to the stages before and after. The final climb is 5.7km at 6%, a veritable sprint, a soft, easily digestible meat in a pain sandwich.

Whom Does it Favor

The breakaway. It simply won't be a day for a real selection among the GC guys, so one wonders why they would chase down any breaks. Maybe the composition of the break will put pressure on Movistar, but there are so many huge stages around the corner, it's hard to believe they will care.

Pick to Win

Urm... Gianluca Brambilla! One of these days I'll be right.