“Age and treachery
will overcome youth and skill.”
Fausto Coppi, Italian
"Champion of Champions"

  September 2005



Vuelta a Espana 05 (Click to enlarge)







Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain

La Vuelta a Espana: A Grand Tour [Part 3]

To the coast

Leaving La Mancha behind them the riders head for one of the great playgrounds of Europe, the Catalan coast. First however the route from Cuenca brings the first taste of altitude with the stage finish at the top of Valdelineares ski resort on Stage 6 . The climb itself is 8.6 km with an average gradient of 6.5% to finish at 2,000 meters. Two Cat 3 climbs (at 93kms and 175kms) precede the finish but overall the stage is not expected to cause great concern to those looking to the overall win, as it will be more a case of “prodding” to see who is not on form. Although the climb is new to the Vuelta, it has been a major feature in the Vuelta a Aragón for many years.

Next day the race heads for the coast. The opening phase of Stage 7 , 212.5 km from Teruel to Vinaroz, includes four Cat 3 climbs but quickly drops to sea level and heads along the coastal plain. Here the weather often plays an important role. In 2001 torrential rains and wind made it so dark at the finish that the cameras had difficulty distinguishing the winner (Juan Manuél Gárate).

Now we are in Catalonia, the wealthiest region in Spain. Its capital Barcelona is home to industry, art, tourism and the 1992 Olympic Games. The coastal region north of Barcelona is known as the Costa Brava and has long been a major playground for Europeans who seek sun, sand and Sangria. Stage 8 covers 189 km from Tarragona/Rambla Nova to Lloret de Mar. While our journey from the start in Granada has been saturated in historical links, ancient architecture and spectacular scenery, Lloret de Mar is a rude counterpoint. It is a bustling tourist haven dominated by high rise hotels and commercial glitz. One would be hard pressed to find anything Spanish here; establishments catering to foreign tourists -- English pubs with fish and chips and German beerhouses with brats and sauerkraut -- are the rule. The stage itself is one for the sprinters and the most exciting part of the day will likely be the bunch sprint into the heart of this “package holiday” Mecca.

The race stays in Lloret for the individual time trial on Stage 9. The stage covers a technical 47-km course with three modest climbs that include the Cat 3 Alto de Tossa. This ITT could produce some significant GC changes. If the organizers have done a good marketing job, large crowds will leave the beaches and other holiday attractions to see the elite riders battling the clock.



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