Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain
Stage 16, September 13th,
León to Valladolid, 162.5 Km
A Sunny Day for the Sprinters
While the mountains are not finished there is perhaps a false sense of relief as the Vuelta now turns south and heads for Madrid . The riders first got a well earned rest day in León, the capital of the Castilla y León region, before continuing with stage 16.
Once more history dominates our senses. The City of Leon was founded by the Romans before Visigoths, the Moors and finally the Christians took control. Being located on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, one of the city's many famous monuments is the pilgrims' hospital of San Marcos , which now functions as a parador (state owned hotel/museum).
Fully rested, the peloton takes on the almost dead flat road from León to Valladolid on Stage 16. Once the main city of emergent Spain , Valladolid has been the birthplace of kings and queens. In 1506 Christopher Columbus died here poor, bedridden and disillusioned. For the peloton the wind will again be a serious issue with only the strongest making it to the front.
he peloton rolled out of Leon under sunny and warm conditions. At 17 km the only serious breakaway of the day established a 40 second lead before the sprinter's teams brought the group back at the 71 km mark.
The breakaway ( Image © Unipublic )
Into the closing kilometers teams began to jockey for position. Fassa Bortolo took full control of the peloton with 5 km to go. Alessandro Petacchi, sitting slidly behind his teammates, had one concern; the final kilometer of the stage was steadily uphill. The Fassa train delivered Petacchi to sprint with Quick Step's Paolo Bettini close behind. Bettini drove to the lead but Petacchi came back. Bettini final surge narrowly beat Petacchi at the line. Paolo Bettini became one of a select group of stars to have a stage win in all 3 of the grand National Tours.
Bettini nips Petacchi ( Image © Unipublic )
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