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Vuelta Stage 18: Pardon the Interruption

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It's a psychological transition day...

Jose Jordan, AFP

Stage 18: Requena — Gandia, 200.6KM

What's It About?

Turning over the calendar. Really, let's get to the last couple decisive stages already.

ChrisF's Dirt and Rock Pairings

Where we never take things for granite.

Limestone and dolomite are special rocks for a reason: formed by calcium carbonate and magnesium, they dissolve easily but also form new deposits for chemical precipitation. The result is that the entire region is pierced with caves and galleries and, most striking of all, their walls are decorated with whimsical formations. A highlight in the stage is the Don Juan Cave, one of the most important cavities in the Autonomous Community of Valencia. Over 400 metres long and featuring wide rooms, it is adorned by stalactites, stalagmites, streams and springs. The cave also contains archaeological remains that prove its occupation during the Mesolithic Period (8000 to 6000 years BC) and during the Bronze Age (1500 to 500 years BC).

There's also some discussion of dormant volcanoes. Whatever. Call me when they erupt.

Course Features

De map:

V st 17 map

And just to hammer home the lack of intrigue, here's the profile.

v st 18 profile

Hm... does this remind you of something?

Vuelta st 16 map

That's Monday's stage. I guess it was different, but only in the way that no two snowflakes are alike... but they're all pretty small and cold. So if you want to know what Thursday's stage will be like, you could probably just watch Monday's replay and figure it out.

Whom Does it Favor

The guys from Monday? Yesterday I wrote a column about the Vuelta and coming of age, mentioning offhandedly that nobody here is training for other objectives in this season. That's not entirely true, as the sprinter dudes are surely eyeing their chances in Qatar at the worlds next month. But the Vuelta contains few of the elite flat-landers and fastmen. Britain might be a better barometer of whose prep is coming along for Qatar.

Anyway, lots of guys could win, like on Monday, when Jempy Drucker timed an early attack rather than waiting for the traditional run-in to the line. There are lots of ways to take a long downhill stage. Being super fast for 50 meters is probably the best way.

Pick to Win

Gianni Meersman.