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Vuelta a España: Stage 7

Distance: 195.5km
Category: Rolling
Highest point: 755m

This is the second consecutive stage for the sprinters as the race heads down into Spain's deep south, where the first big climbs lie just ahead. Expect a big turn-out of Alberto Contador fans at the start in Almendralejo if El Pistolero opts to defend his title as his parents' home patch at Barcarrota is just 40km of to the west towards the Portuguese border. Apart from the final day in Madrid, this is the flattest stage of the race. It heads south towards Sevilla, veering towards the small town of Mairena de Aljarafe on its outskirts. The riders will pass through the finish, then complete a loop back into the town, giving the sprinters plenty of opportunity to see what lies in store in the final.

Matt White: "This is one of the very few transition stages so it's a day when the sprinters will want to take control. Orica GreenEdge will be looking to Leigh Howard as it's one of the few chances he'll get. To be honest, the Vuelta route is a little bit ridiculous. There's not much for sprinters at all."  

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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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