Sprinters at the Vuelta
The Vuelta seems to be carving a niche for itself as the Grand Tour that can’t really be bothered with sprinters. Summit finishes are everywhere, but even the flat stages tend to end with an uphill run. If not, they have a near-wall deposited in the middle to weed out anyone who can’t climb.
This makes the race unwelcoming to sprinters and they therefore don’t generally enter. Without the best sprinters, it makes little sense to provide a real sprinting showcase, so there’s a cause and effect loop here; a self-perpetuating cycle (which sounds like it would be outlawed by the UCI, same as Graeme Obree’s Old Faithful).
From my point of view, I’m quite happy with that. It’s important that the best sprinters get to compete on the biggest stage (the Tour de France) but the Vuelta is lower profile and I often find these grey area stages which are neither one thing nor the other the most interesting to watch.
Yesterday, a large break managed to stay away and Warren Barguil managed to cross the line first after much fun and games in the closing kilometres. I barely new Barguil at all until yesterday, but it was still a fascinating finish. It’s always good to hear a distinctively French name like Warren as well.
We’re into the Pyrenees and it would have gone without saying that there’s a summit finish, if I hadn’t just said it. Here’s the profile.