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Sunday, August 29 - Alcalá de Guadaíra - Marbella, 173 km
Highest point: 1,130m
Category: Road stage
A breakaway day
At most other races, this profile would almost guarantee a breakaway getting clear and staying clear. But this is the Vuelta, and a stage with just two cat 3 climbs this early in the race could still possibly be one for the sprinters. Today's ascents won't trouble anyone too much, especially not the climb out of Ronda, which is on a wide main road where the bunch should stay pretty much intact. That road continues all the way down to the coast and the descent rarely gets steep. This makes it possible for the sprinters' teams to get organised and try to catch the inevitable breakaway.
Andalucía hosts the first four stages of this race, which will give the regional Andalucía-Cajasur team plenty of motivation to show their colours. One of their riders is sure to feature in any break that gets clear, but don't expect any of them to contend for the win if it comes back together for a sprint. Look instead for one of the peloton's regular winners to feature here. The sprinters will all be aiming to score psychological points on their rivals too, with the sprint-friendly yet lumpy Worlds course in Melbourne on their minds.
Matt White says:
"This definitely won't be a sprint. They are going up to 1,200m from sea level, so that's a solid day in the office. You might even see the GC guys up there for this one. But I'd expect a breakaway to take this."