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Vuelta a España 2021: Stage 5 preview

Stage 5: Tarancón to Albacete

Date: August 18, 2021 

Distance: 184.4km 

Stage timing: 13:13 - 17:30 CEST

Stage type: Flat

Vuelta a España stage 5 preview video

Arriving just like London buses, here’s a third flat stage without a single categorised climb, this one continuing the Vuelta’s southerly trajectory, covering 184.4km between Tarancón and Albacete, which last hosted a stage finish in 2014. It looks nailed on to finish with a bunch sprint, for which the favourites should become apparent at the intermediate sprint in La Roda, 53 kilometres from the finish.

The altitude throughout wavers just a little either side of the 750-metre mark, which suggests a straightforward day before the next significant climbing stage 24 hours hence. However, the wind could once again be a factor. Echelons are frequently a feature of the racing in this region, and there will be no shortage of teams hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to split the race apart does arise.

That 2014 stage ended in victory for Nacer Bouhanni, then in his final season with FDJ. The Frenchman led in Michael Matthews, Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb to claim his second victory in the opening eight days of that race. Bouhanni’s Arkéa-Samsic team missed out on a wild card selection this year, but Team BikeExchange’s Matthews is slated to start and is the kind of rider likely to feature prominently in a finish like this, whether the wind blows or not.

The final five kilometres into the finish are pan-flat, increasing the likelihood of a frenetic battle among the race’s sprinters.

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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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