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Vuelta a España: Stage 12

Distance: 157km
Category: Flat
Highest point: 550m

After the complication of a time trial on the back of a rest day and with crucial tests in the Pyrenees not far ahead, the GC contenders are sure to sit back and let the breakaway specialists and sprinters sort out this stage between them. It takes the race back to the shores of the Mediterranean and into Tarragona, which hasn't hosted a stage finish since Vuelta route director Abraham Olano won a time trial there in 2000. The only categorised climb of the day is just beyond halfway, while the final 20 kilometres are as flat as it gets in Spain. That should tip the balance towards the sprinters, who won't want to miss one of the few opportunities they have in this race. The fast, flat run into Tarragona will provide a rare opportunity for the sprinters so their teams are sure to keep the break in check.

Yvon Ledanois: "When I was chatting with some of the other directors, we were saying that while the last few Vueltas have been hard, this one is very, very hard. There are no flat stages, just days for breakaways and the GC riders. This will be a sprint if there are any sprinters there."

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014). 

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