Vuelta a España 2021: Stage 8 preview

Stage 8: Santa Pola - La Manga del Mar Menor

Date: August 21, 2021 

Distance: 173.7km 

Stage timing: 13:34 - 17:30 CEST

Stage type: Flat

Vuelta a España stage 8 preview video

The Vuelta’s second Saturday offers the sprinters what could be their fourth chance to go head to head. The stage is another one without any categorised difficulties. However, like the three flat stages earlier in the first week, the wind could prove to be a complicating factor, although it tends not to be too strong during the summer months.

Starting in Santa Pola, just to the south of Alicante, the route follows the Costa Blanca south through Torrevieja and into the Costa Calida region. After passing through the resort town of San Pedro del Pinatar, a regular feature on the route of the Tour of Murcia in its heyday as a five-day stage race, the race cuts inland through Torre Pacheco to reach Cartagena, site of the intermediate sprint.

The riders will then turn eastwards, heading towards the finale at La Manga del Mar Menor via El Algar, then passing close to the famous golfing and sports resort of La Manga. If the wind is blowing, the finale up the narrow spit to land to La Manga del Mar Menor, literally “the sandbar of the minor sea”, could be very frantic indeed. Little more than 100 metres wide, this sandy strip of land separates the Mediterranean from the inland Mar Menor, which has become a huge watersports centre.

The sprinters won’t want to miss out on this pan-flat finish, as there are only two clear opportunities for them in the remaining two weeks.

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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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