27 August 2013

Vuelta a España 2013 Stage 4: Lalín to Finisterra

Ernest Hemmingway wrote the novel The Old Man and the Sea and in this edition of La Vuelta the sea air that the riders have been getting over these first few days seems to be fine with the old man of the peleton. Chris Horner is hoping to become the oldest man to finish La Vuelta when the race reaches Madrid. But why should the Radioshack-Leopard settle for just a record that relies on him getting around.

The Italian Champion Santoramita BMC launched an attack with 4km to go on the final climb to Mirador de Lobeira, it looked like the peleton had gone asleep. At 1.5km the counter attack came in the shape of Herada MOV and Stortoni LAM were the first to put in an effort to repond. But in the final km Horner went after Santoramita. He caught him rapidly with 600m to go and managed to stay away from the chasers with a gap of 3 seconds from Alejandro Valverde (MOV) and Joaquin Rodriquez. The American's time bonuses meant that at 41 years and 307 days he pulls on his first leader's jersey in a Grand Tour, the oldest winner of a stage in any of the Grand Tours.

There had been worries that the race would break into echelons when it hit the coast road or the bridge across to Illa de Arousa. But a crash in the peloton even before they hit that stretch of road leading to the bridge meant that there were groups all over the road chasing back before they thought they might have to. Domineco Pozzovivo was one of those caught out having been third yesterday, but with the help of some AG2R team mates he got back on.

Behind Horner on the line once again their big splits in the group. But two Irishmen, both yesterday's winner Nicolas Roche (TST) in 9th and his cousin Dan Martin (GRS) in 5th made the top group. Bauke Mollema (BEL) suffered a puncture in the final 15km and four of his team mates paced him back up and he actually managed to finish 6th. Rigoberto Uran was also in the group at 3 seconds but the first gap saw his Sky team mate Sergio Henao lose another 10 seconds, rolling in 14th.

Finisterre lighthouse: the stage finish is nearby on the cape
After yesterday's stage today we head to the end of the earth, which is the literal translation for Finisterre where La Vuelta is heading. Like Vigo it is somewhere I have actually been and the stage during its 189km will pss through the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela on its way. The city is still reeling from the tragic train crash that happened on the edge of town only a few weeks ago.

The profile is like most of this part of Galicia lumpy but there isn't really a lot to trouble most of the riders until we take a little excursion inland after the second and final intermediate sprint of the day.

After going through the village of O Ezaro there is a very steep ramp up over 2.4km climing from 15m to 270m. Which is a short sharp average of 10.5% for a category three climb. Afterwards there is still 34km to the finish, but it is possible that some sprinters may be dropped here and have to fight to get back on the peleton. Which as we soon head back towards the coast would need to be done before any head winds off the Atlantic may hinder progress.

There is a little kick at the end, but nothing like yesterday's as the peleton will climb out of the town of Finisterre up unto the Cape. But if the wind is up the sprinters will have to time it perfectly to not expend too much energy before launching their bid for victory.

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