Stage 2: Marbella — Caminito del Rey, 163km
Time to get the Vuelta moving forward. Nothing like a rolling stage to a crazy gorge for some good, light entertainment.
What’s It About?
I’m a bit short on time so I’ll just say that it’s a nice ride around the hills of Málaga. Pablo posted some stuff in my Six Stages preview and might have more to say here. Or wait til later because he’ll be at the race and undoubtedly post about it. There’s your real expertise, the guy who rides these hills for fun on the weekends. It won’t be any sort of epic challenge for the pros but it’ll be a good time.
Malaga is just east of all this. Profile tho:
Gradients are pretty low, especially for the Guadalhorce climb, which they do twice. Low for them anyway.
Did You Know?
The real attraction is the finishing point, a hydroelectric dam, and its “caminito” or little walkway. This isn’t some camino of historical and/or religious meaning; it’s simply the path that was carved into the steep vertical cliffs for the guys working on the dam. And it’s a totally unacceptable 1-meter-wide traverse high off the ground with no rails in places, although apparently it’s just been rebuilt to cause a bit less death. The photo above shows the new walkway, nice and safely fenced in, just above the old completely insane one.
Somehow “the world’s most dangerous walkway” has only caused five deaths, which is less than some other walkways I can think of, like the Columbia Gorge or the wrong alleyway in Naples or about half of America’s most important biking routes. But I’ll grant you, it looks way more dangerous than anything I’d ever try getting on.
Hm, this stage won’t be decisive, as I said, but it does fall into that grey zone of “can they drop Sagan?” If no, then it should be an exceptionally easy outcome to predict. If yes, then the stage opens up to all the climbers who can sprint. This is not quite as close as we will get to Valverde Country (Murcia, just up the coast) but it’s good enough. Still, the last 5km look like this:
Pick to Win
Peter Sagan. I think he hangs on, whereupon you can take this one to the bank.