6 September 2013

Vuelta a España Stage 13: Valls to Castelldefels

Yesterday's stage did turn out to be a bunch finish, after the three man break was brought back in the resort of Salou in the final 20km. Nicolas Roche (TST) sneaked back 2 seconds coming second in the sprint at Port Aventura behind Ivan Basso (CAN). After which Tony Martin (OPQ) went clear of the peleton, but he was pulled back just before they entered the last 10km.

Domenico Pozzivivo (ALM) suffered a flat tyre with 4.5km to go, but thanks to the extension of the 3km rule to 5km he ended up not losing precious time.

But then it also ended what was looking to be a year of drought for the man in the rainbow jersey. In his last race before he had to relinquish the jersey Philippe Gilbert (BMC) had been desperate to not end the year without crossing the line first. Only Stephen Roche, the father of Nicolas had completely failed in the rainbow jersey but he suffered an injury affected 1988 the year after his triple crown. But it wasn't easy for him as Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) was launched off the last bend with 300m to go and opened up a gap, which only one man, in the rainbow jersey went to chase down and only managed to overhaul the Norwegian, who is looking to win a stage in the third Grand Tour, in the final 10m.

Today however, we return to a day for the climbers athough most of the day is merely bumpy with 50km to go to the finish there is a Alto del Rat Penat, It is basically a wall in the road after 115km of cycling. It is only 4.5km long, but does have an average of 10%, peaking at 16%.

Afterwards there is loop back down to the coast, there are a couple of ramps on that last run in and the last 300m is also a little ramp to the line. But the Alto del Rat Penat will make a selection of those who will ride on for the line honours. As we saw yesterday, Stephen Roche is prepared to tried for bonus seconds and the second intermediate comes after the last climb and along with the seconds on the line there may be more chances for him to nibble away at Nibali's 31 second lead.

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