25 August 2013

La Vuelta a España 2013 Stage 2: Pontevedra to Alto do Monte da Groba, Baiona

Astana took the honours in the Team Time Trial yesterday and Janez Brajkovič will be wearing the red jersey as race leader as the first road stage of La Vuelta gets underway. Radioshack came in second ahead of Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Sky. The first team off the ramp (or actually a glass floor on pontoons in the harbour) NetApp-Endura came in 7th only 35 seconds down.

After yesterday's Team Time Trial today's stage starts gently enough almost mugging the coast of Galicia almost until you reach Baiona. Indeed the riders will see the town that is in the name of the finish of today's stage from across the bay near Nigrán before they turn left and head inland.

Indeed when they turn inland at Ramallosa there are still a cruel 130km to go to the finish of today's stage. First thing the peleton has to deal with is the first categorised climb of La Vuelta 2013, it is a mere 3rd category ascent of the Alto de San Cosme.

After this the route returns to a relatively flat profile as it circles around back to Baiona. However, not before taking in two sprints one at Ponteareas the other at A Guarda.

After A Guarda the race heads back toward Baiona in earnest this time from the West along the coast after over 50km of potential cross winds off the Atlantic.

However, the coastal town of Baiona is not the final destination of this stage, as the race once more head inland for the giant that is the Alto Do Monte Da Groba. There are 11km to go and it is all uphill. It may only be 630m in height but when you are starting more or less at sea level with a gradient averaging 5.6% it is a tough first day of road racing for anyone.

There are a number of sharp kicks on this climb, the first is 8.33% in the opening reaches of the climb so expect the favourites to be racing for the front on the way into Baiona so that they are not caught out. The about 3.5km into the climb is the maximum gradient of 10%. There then follow a few kms of relative calm in the scheme of this plod to the finish even a false flat with 3 km to go. But then it ramps up once again and the final 1.5km is at more than 7.5%.

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