Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stage 6 Preview 2013 Vuelta a España

I regret that I am unable to commit as much time this month to blogging about the Vuelta a España as I did for the previous tours. But I hope everyone is enjoying the race, and I will post when I can. Here's what I've got today:

Stage 6 heads south

First, I am happy that Time Warner Cable did something good for what seems like the first time ever, and finally made a deal last month to bring Universal Sports onto my channel lineup, so I can watch the Vuelta on TV in HD.  Of course it is part of the extended sports package I started paying for when the Giro d’Italia started being covered by beIN TV in the spring. I am not intentionally plugging these networks, just throwing the info out there in case anyone is looking for TV coverage in their area.


Matthews nabs a stage win in his first Grand Tour

So stage 5 went down as expected, with the peloton catching the five-man break, and Orica’s Michael Matthews taking the stage win ahead of Maximiliano Richeze and Gianni Meersman, and most of the Vuelta’s other few dedicated sprinters. The Argos train put on another powerful display, delivering Niklas Arndt to a perfect finishing position, but the speed of Orica’s 22-year old Matthews was too much for anyone on Wednesday.

Stage 6 Profile

The final 5k finish route

Without a single categorized climb on the course and a flat finish, Thursday’s stage 6 from Guijuelo to Cáceres should end in another bunch sprint, one even more amenable to the fast men than stage 5. There are half a dozen turns for the riders to negotiate in the final four kilometers, the last one is about 500m from the line, so that should make for a decent stretch to get up to speed on. Look for the same gaggle of sprinters to contest the finish.

Last 5k of stage 6
 Stage 5’s top ten finishers were all sprinters. But the 11th through 20th place finishers included seven climbers/GC contenders. That demonstrates first of all how important it is for the overall contenders to stay in front and out of trouble in a fast finish, but also how few sprinters have come to pick over the few trimmings available to them on this parcours. 

I expect tomorrow’s top ten to look a lot like today’s. Favorites will again be Matthews and Meersman, but Richeze and Arndt have thrown their names in to the mix as well. I think Matthews could win again, but predicting him would be no fun, so my prediction for stage 6 is that Tyler Farrar will improve his result to a podium finish.

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