The sprinters won't want to let this stage that runs between Spain's toy-making centre of Ibi and the port of Alicante evade them. It features just two categorised climbs, neither of which should cause the likes of Bennett, Gaviria, Phil Bauhaus, Fabio Jakobsen or Luka Mezgec much of a problem as they go hunting for victory.
The third consecutive stage to take place in the province of Alicante looks problem-free for its first half, although the intense heat that's typical of this region in late summer will be a significant draw on resources, although its cumulative effect shouldn't be felt for a few days yet.
Soon after the start, the riders will begin a large loop that includes the first of the day's climbs, the third-category Puerto de Biar. Moving east, the Puerto de Tibi follows 35 kilometres later. At almost seven kilometres, it's much longer than the first hill, but averages less than five per cent. Topping out 30 kilometres from the finish, it will trigger a frenetic dash into Alicante, taking in the intermediate sprint on the way.
The finish, located beneath the spectacular Castello Santa Bárbara that overlooks the Mediterranean city and alongside Alicante's impressive marina, should be a superb spectacle, particularly as the peloton will speed towards it on major roads without too many changes of direction. After coming around a sweeping right-hander just inside the final kilometre, the final gallop to the line along the seafront is wide and straight. Given the tightness of the time gaps at the top of the general classification, the bonus seconds available on the line could result in a change of leader and perhaps even that rare thing nowadays of the Vuelta being led by a sprinter.
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).
Latest on Cyclingnews
Backstedt bags family bragging rights after winning junior Worlds with slow puncture'I’ve never cried so much after a race. I crossed the line and I realised I was world champion' says British junior
Van der Poel: Van Aert is the big favourite for the Worlds road race'Sometimes we need each other' says Dutch leader of his Belgian rival
UCI Road World Championships 2021: Women's Elite Road Race - Live CoverageFollow all the action from the elite women's road race
World Championships: Zoe Backstedt wins junior women's road race titleKaia Schmid takes silver for the United States as Germany's Riedmann takes bronze
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.