Monday, 26 August 2013

Vuelta a Espana 2013 : Stage 4 Preview

AFTER three tough days the organisers of this years Vuelta seem to have gone easy with stage four. In the roadbook it has this stage classified as flat.

But as we know from experience 'on paper' doesn't always match reality.

The stage marks the last day in Galicia and starting from the town of Lalin it will travel 189km to Finisterra. It's name comes from the Latin 'finis terrae' meaning end of the world. And that gives you a clue as to the locale of the finish line.

Sitting on top a rocky outcrop sticking out into the Atlantic, the final 2.5km will see the riders climb almost 100m up another narrow road.

There should be a fairly reduced peloton even by the bottom of the climb as a third category climb just 36km from the end should send a few riders out the back door.

As far as the stage win goes though it will be those last few kilometres which will de the key.

Speeds will be high on the run in and as the course hugs the coast, any crosswind could split the field.

For me this has Gianni Meersman written all over it. He can get over the lumpy stuff and has the speed to vanquish most of the others. The big question is whether OPQS can deliver him into a good position.

The stage itself is also not enough to challenge the main contenders and won't result in big time gaps.

However with the time bonuses that are available in this years tour it is possible the red jersey may change hands again.

Chris Horner took the jersey from Vincenzo Nibali following a well timed attack today and those extra seconds on offer over the line.

Bonus seconds are available for those crossing in the top three places. With 10 seconds on offer to the winner the likes of Alejandro Valverde and Joaquin Rodriguez could see this as the last chance until the weekend to reduce the deficit to Nibali, who despite losing the jersey today remains the de facto leader of this Tour.

Movistar have been the biggest aggressors in keeping the pace high in the peloton but RadioShack should help in that respect tomorrow.

For the outsiders look towards Argos-Shimano's Micheal Matthews or Simon Gerrans. Neither have been in great form but this finish may be ideal for them.

And if RadioShack don't have to put too much into any chase of the breakaway there is a chance Ben Hermans may be up there,

Final outsider is Belkin's Luis Leon Sanchez. After a difficult season he finished 17th yesterday and he will like the look of this finish.

It's warming up in Spain and I don't just mean the temperatures!

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