Spanish stroll to Barcelona

After Monaco and Marseille, the 2009 Tour visits a third 'great beacon' of the Mediterranean, Barcelona. The Spanish capital of Catalonia, the southernmost destination in Tour history, has hosted the Tour de France twice in the past. This year, the peloton will come from Girona, a small Spanish town which became famous in the cycling community when Lance Armstrong made it his Spanish home. The ride over the rugged coastal hills of the Costa Brava will surely see a breakaway go clear.

In the city of famous architect Antoni Gaudi, crowds will be huge and Spanish riders may be particularly eager to break away from the peloton on the uphill finish at the Montjuic mountain, which hosts the Escalada a Montjuic each year in October. Look for a strong puncher to finish the stage in style.

Vaughters' views

This stage starts in the European capital of American cycling, Girona. The route is tricky in the first and last 50km, with a run along the coast that all the riders living in Girona know very well.

The finish is a tricky one with the final run up Monjuich. If the stage plays to script, I just see a big battle between three super uphill sprinters, Thor Hushovd, Oscar Friere, and Heinrich Hausler.

Dark horse Kim Kirchen could play in this day as well, and maybe take the jersey?

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