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Vuelta Stage 5: Standard Fare, Really

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Steep ramps are meat and drink for this race.

Vuelta peloton Jaime Reina, AFP/Getty Images

Can’t attract any sprinters but need to move the race around between the mountains? Use the Vuelta-patented idea of the short, steep finish, which you’ll find almost more often than not on weekday stages in the first and second weeks. This is a pretty standard example of the genre, which should give us an idea of who should win all the other ones.

Stage 5: Benicàssim - Alcossebre (175.7 km)

Map:

Profile:

Five categorised climbs await on a one hundred and seventy-five kilometre day, but they just aren’t difficult enough to make this stage anything but a race to the bottom of the climb to Ermita Santa Lucia, followed by a somewhat more painful race to the top. The climb itself is listed as three and a half kilometres at just over four per cent, but don’t believe that — it’s actually over nine, with patches above twenty, which will turn this stage into a battle between only those who can crank out the greatest number of watts per kilogram.

Whom Does it Favor?

The above, really, with the usual suspects standing out prominently. The only way the GC men won’t fight for the stage is if a breakaway can manage to escape, which isn’t all that unlikely on the lumpy terrain. However, I think Sky, Quick-Step, Orica and BMC will be willing enough to chase down any move.

Did You Know?

The Geodiversity section of the Vuelta website is always a winner for this bit, and today it points our attention to sand volcanoes. Yes, sand volcanoes. Okay, it sounds a tap more exciting than it really is but essentially, water pressure forces sand out of the rocks and there you go, a small, safe volcanic eruption.
Benicàssim and Alcossebre are not Spain’s largest towns, both beach resorts, neither particularly large.

Pick to Win

Froome and Chaves have shown themselves to be the best climbers in the race which automatically makes them the favourites for this stage. Do I think Froome is going to conserve anything? His performance on Monday makes the answer no quite unequivocal but Chaves has won enough of this type of stage for him to be my deserved favourite for stage five.