The first climb of the 66th Vuelta comes just 28km into the opening road stage but thereafter, the route sticks closely to the Mediterranean coast. That keeps the profile flat and should ensure that the sprinters get their first chance for some elbows-out action. Alessandro Petacchi won last year’s stage in Orihuela but that town is actually some distance inland from its beaches where today’s finish is located. Although the road does rise steadily over the final kilometre to the finish, it doesn’t do so at a gradient that will concern the sprinters or interrupt any lead-out trains.
Vuelta flashback 2009, The second coming of Damiano Cunego
Despite often being touted as a genuine grand tour contender, Damiano Cunego has only ever won stages in three-week races. His best-remembered successes were the four stage wins that set him up for victory in the 2004 Giro. Five years on from that, the Italian re-emerged as a conqueror of summits with two wins at the 2009 Vuelta. The first came on the Alto de Aitana, just 10km from today’s only climb of Alto de Relleu. ‘The Little Prince’ went on to win again at the Pandera summit above the Andalucian city of Jaén, which remains his last success in a grand tour.
Highest point: 450m
Johnny Weltz says...
“Although there are some hills inland, this area is very lat and the race will be on big roads so I can’t see it ending in anything other than a sprint. There are no major difficulties at all, bearing in mind the climb comes so early.”
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.