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Vuelta Stage 16: Pressure Drop

Jaime Reina AFP

Stage 16: Alcañiz — Peñíscola 156.4KM

What's It About?

A run for the beach. Time for a rest day, but WTF let's do a long transfer and a downhill stage first.

ChrisF's Dirt and Rock Pairings

Where we never take things for granite.

This stage crosses mainly the Maestrazgo area, made up of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks (between 205 and 65 million years old). Almost all the rocks featured in this stage were formed in coastal regions. Some were formed under the sea, others come from continental deposits, containing terrestrial animal fossils. Of all the fossils, the most interesting are those of different types of dinosaurs. With the formation of alpine mountain ranges, the rocks were elevated until they formed the Maestrazgo Mountain Ranges and the topography through which this stage passes.

I just returned from the San Juan Islands, our last blip of vacation. Setting aside my long soliloquy on marbled murrelets, that place is a geologic dumping ground. Apparently the islands are made up of whatever got scraped up in the Pangea era from northward moving glaciers and mangled into a set of foothill-type islands. The folding bands of rock are pretty cool, but there's also a ton of conglomerate -- just huge bands of rock that is very obviously made up of whole chunks of stuff banded together. The conglomerate dates back to dinosaur eras. Meaning, one of these days, someone is going to turn up some pretty great fossils in Puget Sound. But when, that's the question. Also, with real estate skyrocketing, the number of good dig sites is going down. Anyway...

Course Features

De map:

Vuelta st 16 map

Peniscola looks like a fine place to stop for a day. Except they pick up and transfer down the coast to Castellon instead. Lots of transfers this week. Just what the doctor didn't order. Profile:

St 16 profile

Flat finish = sprint. The little cat-3 might see some action, as Kenny Ellisonde and Omar Fraile are locked in a pretty close KOM battle. But the day's hostilities will end right after that, unless they go stage hunting. From there it's a pretty gradual descent after some light climbing to the 90km mark, and a dead-flat run to the line.

Whom Does it Favor

Definitely a sprinters' day. Given the presence of a few hungry stage-hunters and the lack of feeding they've endured for a while, you can count on Etixx, Trek and maybe Astana to get involved in setting this up. Trek might like Fabio Felline's chances, though he surely burned a lot of matches today. Alejandro Valverde is the holder, and with his GC not an issue Movistar will presumably let him follow wheels and limit any points gaps to whoever moves up. Luis Leon Sanchez may be his biggest threat at this point, but it wouldn't be hard for Valverde to either follow or maybe even try to beat Luisle in the bunch gallop.

Pick to Win

Gianni Meersman. Luisle burned a lot of matches today too.