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Racing through rich pastures for Spanish cycling
Proycling's Analysis: If Alejandro Valverde needs a boost at the race’s mid-point then this stage into his home city should provide it. The main difficulty is the Cresta del Gallo climb 12km from the finish. It’s not long though – more the kind of climb you’d find on a one-day race that’s meat and drink to Valverde.
Culture Vulture: Twinned with Nice, Alicante now compares well to the French resort thanks to an economic boom in recent decades. With its castle sitting above a now thriving port, it’s now one of Spain’s fastest growing cities.
Local hero: Murcia has turned out a good number of top-class riders in recent seasons. As well as Valverde, his Caisse d’Epargne team-mates Francisco Pérez and Luis León Sánchez are also from the region.
Vuelta Retro: Murcia is welcoming the Vuelta for the 25th time. The city hosted the start of the 1966 race.
Neil Stephens says: Alejandro Valverde is from this area, so the guys should enjoy this stage and be motivated. Hopefully by then the time differences will be big enough that it's a bit of a breakaway or sprinter's day. Hopefully we're in a position where we're high on general classification and we can have a bit of day off. The boys all know it and I don't think there are any secrets there.