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Aero-vent balance, MIPS and bright shells all trending updwards
Patriotic paint, progressive features and prototype Zipp wheels
From new-school Assos to old-school Italian to a new custom SpeedShop Program
Sprinters to have their first chance in Emmen
Proycling's Analysis: This stage is based in Drenthe and starts in Assen once again. It loops back to the province’s capital twice before heading to the southern part of the region and finishing in Emmen. The countryside is flat and open, so a sprint looks guaranteed. There is one climb but the specialists won’t be impressed – the hill at Witteveen only rises to 30m.
Culture Vulture: Emmen is best known for the Dierenpark, one of Europe’s biggest zoos, which attracts almost two million visitors a year.
Local hero: The Vuelta will be a key goal for Rabobank as well as for fellow Dutch outfit Vacansoleil. Among those scheduled to be part of the Rabobank team to make his major tour debut is highly rated climber Bauke Mollema, who hails from nearby Groningen. A Tour de l’Avenir winner in 2007, he’s continued to impress at the ProTour level and shone in the Tour of California at the start of this year. However, the 22-year-old has been hit by glandular fever this season, so whether he’ll actually make it to the start in Assen is still in doubt
Vuelta Retro: Alessandro Petacchi stands second in the all-time list of Vuelta stage winners. The Italian has 19 stage wins under his belt but lags behind 1945 winner Delio Rodríguez’s total of 39.
Neil Stephens says: You'll really have to keep a close eye on teams like Rabobank - it's in their territory - and there's also Quick Step. It's a pretty technical type of circuit with lots of corners, left and right turns, roundabouts... . You have to be on the edge of your seat all day. It's not a battle for us to pick that day - it's a sprinters' day and we've got no sprinter, so we just have to make sure we don't lose any time through crashes or mechanicals, etc. Guys like Allan Davis, Andre Greipel, Tyler Farrar (are the ones to watch). It'll be one of those guys that day (who takes the win).