Granada to Roquetas de Mar (188.7 km)
The Vuelta gets tired of all the history in Granada and heads back to the beach.
What Did We Learn from Stage 4?
Besides from my ineptness at predictions (except for the part about the Right Yates figuratively ripping one off and not learning any lessons from the Giro), we now know who the contenders are going to be at this Vuelta after a select group dropped the remainder of the peloton on the climb of Alfacar.
We also observed the rise of the Jumbo bots and their American star in the making- Sepp Kuss— as they pulled back significant time on the break and shredded the hangers-on to the GC group. The casualties included Bauke Mollema, Ilnur Zakarin, Nicholas Roche, Michael Woods, and Louis Meintjes amongst others. We also learned that Vicenzo Nibali wasn’t pulling a super secret triple bluff and that he really is not on form.
Perhaps most disconcertingly for the rest of the peloton, we learned that Michal Kwiatkowski might be a real threat for the GC after he was able to stick with the main group and stay within seconds of Valverde to preserve his hold on the red jersey. The question will be whether he can hold his form throughout the Vuelta after riding the Tour and then winning the Tour de Pologne prior to arriving in Spain.
What’s Stage 5 About?
While there are no big mountains, there is nary a flat kilometer of road except for the final 9 kilometers, as the Vuelta goes from turf to surf while staying just south of the Sierra Nevadas. It should be a good day for the break but could always end up in a bunch sprint.
There’s a third category climb that does not appear on the profile right after the town of Orgiva, but categorized or not, this is a stage with lots of lumps as the peloton will be travelling in the shadow of the Sierra Nevadas. The biggest difficulty of the day is the Alto El Marchal, which is a category 2 climb, but probably more difficult on the long descent than the ascent, which will see the riders go through a number of hairpin turns. If a gap is opened on the Marchal descent, the rider will have to hold off the chasers on about 9 kilometers of flat road to the finish.
Did You Know?
The route will take the riders through the village of Torvizcón, where the villagers celebrate the Fiesta del Marranillo de San Antón every January. During the festival, two pigs, both named Antón, are blessed by a priest and festooned with red ribbons and released to roam the streets of the village, with the villagers expected to feed and house the two porcine Antóns. On the Diá de San Antón, Antón 1 and Antón 2 are slaughtered and roasted on a communal fire pit, with the villagers enjoying the succulent meat of the the animal avatars of Saint Anthony. The tradition has a dark underpinning, as it was started by Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of the area in response to the Inquisition, where the offering and care of the pigs was seen as proof of their dedication to Catholicism.
Who Will Win?
I think we see another victory from the break, so the potential stage winners are myriad.
You’ve got to feel bad for Pierre Rolland who struggled valiantly but ultimately unsuccessfully on yesterday’s stage, finally making contact without about 200 meters to go with the leading 2 riders and then being distanced in the sprint. After that tragi-crazy ride by Rolland, you would have to think that Thomas De Gendt got a little jealous, so perhaps we see another crazy performance from him tomorrow.
If the peloton can rein in the break, look for a sprinter who can climb, like Elia Viviani or Matteo Trentin, to contend for victory.