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Vuelta a España: Stage 5

Distance: 168.4km
Category: Rolling
Highest point: 1,340m

A glance at the profile of this stage wouldn't suggest this is a day for the sprinters but that's how the organisers describe it. More than anything, that description underlines how incredibly mountainous this year's Vuelta route is as the stage into the Lake Sanabria national park features more than 2,000 metres of vertical ascent. The sprinters' teams will have some task keeping breakaway riders in check in this rugged terrain, crossing two pretty sizeable third category climbs. It would be no surprise to see the day's escapees stay clear to the finish, where one might be rewarded with the race leader's red jersey if the GC contenders decide to sit back a bit after the testing opening stages.

José Azevedo: "It's not a mountain stage but this parcours is very hard with hills of 3-5km, one after another. It will be very tough for the leader's team to control things. A lot of teams will want to get into the break and, if a lot of strong riders manage to do so, it could be a dangerous day for the leader."

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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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