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Vuelta Stage 6: The Long and Winding Road

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Read on, for the punchline...

El Cid
Silver Screen Collection, Getty

Stage 6: Vilareal — Sagunt, 204km

Git a move on with this Vuelta already. But just to make sure we remember that we’re in Spain, there are hills, and beaches, and national parks.

Map:

Vuelta stage 6 map

Profile:

Vuelta stage 6 profile

What’s It About?

Transitioning, facing up to our inner selves, and generally trying to make today a brighter day. Or just riding around Spain, from one coastal(ish) place to another, with some hills to keep people fresh. None of them seem like all that much, even the final Puerto del Garbí cat-2 climb is 9km at just over 5%. So a day for the GC contenders, this will not be.

The question is whether it’ll be a day for sprinters instead. I kind of think it might. The last climb is nearly 40km from the line, and probably won’t clear out too many of the potential sprinters (such as they are). Then you have the matter of Matteo Trentin being a hot hand, for a team that loves winning stages like this and has no reason not to pour itself into just that task. So I guess I’m skipping ahead to my “pick to win.”

Did You Know?

Hm, let’s see... the official word of the day is “karst,” according to the Vuelta website, which is a pretty boring one considering that there are karst formations stretching from Gibraltar to Jerusalem. I guess a better discussion is who has been to Sagunt, where the race finishes. Here’s a short list:

  • The ancient Iberians;
  • The Romans, who drew Saguntum into its war with Carthage;
  • Carthage, under Hannibal, who didn’t take kindly to the previous sentence and kicked out the Romans in 219 BC;
  • Rome again, seven years later, because no victory over them is ever final;
  • The Arian Visigoths, who inherited the remains of the fallen Roman Empire and established the patron saint of Sacerdos, which just means “the priest”;
  • The Muslim Arabs, who sent the presumably overheated Visigoths back north again in the 8th century CE as the Caliphate of Cordoba took hold of the area;
  • The Castillian armies of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a/k/a El Cid, who elbowed out the Muslims in 1098;
  • The Muslims again, in like 1098.1;
  • James of Aragon, who is almost certainly the subject of one or more very interesting biographies, in 1238;
  • A large Jewish population, which you don’t see often in Spain;
  • and finally, the Spanish we know today, though not without some resistance from France.

Oh, and to top it off, in 500 BC Sagunt was known as “Arse,” which should result in some snickering in the UK. Thankfully someone picked up on that and swapped it out. I know, I saved the best for last.

Pick to Win

Matteo Trentin. Hey, at least I’m internally consistent. Until I’m not.