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Tuesday, September 7 - Tarragona - Vilanova i la Geltrú, 173.7 km
Highest point: 700m
Category: Road stage
Hard to finish
This stage would suit sprinters if it wasn't for the fearsome sting of the Rat Penat. The approach to it along the coast from Vilanova is spectacular, but the riders will be more focused on taking up a place near the front of the bunch than the views. Then they hit the cat 1 climb. Steep right from the off, it rears up frighteningly during its second kilometre, averaging 12.5 per cent. Sections of up to 23 per cent compare with the Flèche Wallonne's Mur de Huy, but this Catalan equivalent still has another 3km to go. The roads over the top of the summit are rough and gravel-strewn too, which could make for an interesting descent to the finish.
This stage will mean a lot to Catalan riders, such as Joaquim Rodríguez and Xavier Florencio, but the rider most readily associated with Rat Penat is Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, who does intervals on its slopes and lives in nearly Castelldefels. In addition, Vilanova was the home of former Caisse d'Epargne rider Isaac Gálvez, who died during the Ghent Six in 2006. He was a close friend of Flecha's and many in his team. They will want to pay tribute to him here.
Matt White says:
"Look at the gradient on the Rat Penat. Once again, the profile would favour the sprinters if it wasn't for that one climb. They won't get over that near the front. If Flecha trains on it, he could well feature…"