Monday, August 26, 2013

Stage 3 Report and Stage 4 Preview 2013 Vuelta a España

The favorites for the General Classification at the 68th Vuelta a España found the short uphill finish of stage 3 too inviting to be left to the uphill sprinters, as some pundits claimed might be the case today. Team Radioshack’s 41-year-old American climber, Chris Horner, won the stage on a late attack on the final climb, claiming his first ever Grand Tour stage win, and first ever GT leader’s jersey.

Chris Horner made history on stage 3
The win also makes Horner the oldest rider ever to win a GT stage and the oldest ever to lead a Grand Tour. Horner had won the queen stage at the Tour of Utah a couple weeks ago, but had struggled through much of the season with a lingering knee injury. Five months away from racing in the heart of the 2013 season does not seem to have prevented the great American talent from finding his top form again just 58 days from his 42nd birthday. Relatively easy stage profiles for the next four stages suggest that Horner could potentially keep the red jersey for several more days.

Stage 4 on the map
Stage 4 to Fisterra on Tuesday takes the riders 189 kilometers to the end of the world. “La etapa del fin del mundo” is so named because the peninsula hosting the stage finish is the westernmost point in mainland Spain. A bumpy rolling route, stage 4 heads generally westward to another small uphill ramp to the finish. Half the size of stsage 3’s finish climb, the stage 4 finale climbs about 100 meters over 2.5k. This is the stage for the strong, uphill sprinters. 

The stage-4 route to "the end of the world"

The finale peninsula

Stage4 Profile

Profile of the final 5k of stage 4

Stage 4 is a tough stage to pick a winner, as a lot of riders will have marked this one down as a good one to go for. World Champion Philippe Gilbert might target this one for his first win of the season. Also look for the likes of Michael Matthews, Gianni Meersman, Simon Gerrans, Angel Vicioso, Juan Antonio Flecha, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Jelle Vanendert, Daniele Ratto, Johnny Hoogerland, Grega Bole, Zdenek Stybar, Anthony Roux, or Luis Leon Sanchez to go for glory on Tuesday. Maybe Fabian Cancellara will treat us to an escape attempt tomorrow. Spartacus has enjoyed testing his legs on stages like this in the past.

My pick to win stage 3, Roman Kreuziger, finished 22nd, with the second group of favorites behind Horner, :13 back. [though I was ecstatic to see Horner get the win today].

My long shot pick, Huzarski, finished in the same group. He was 18th on stage 3.

My pick for stage 4: I like Grega Bole and Anthony Roux (among others) here, but I am going with Gianni Meersman of Omega Pharma-Quickstep.

For a long shot I’ll pick 21-year-old Warren Barguil of Argos Shimano. The young Frenchman has not produced much in the way of personal results this year, but he is riding well so far in the Vuelta, and looks to be in good form.

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