Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain
Stage 8, September 3rd,
Tarragona to Lloret de Mar, 189 km
Sangria and Bratwurst!
We are now in Catalonia, the wealthiest region in Spain . Its capital Barcelona is home to industry, art, tourism and the 1992 Olympic Games. The coastal region north of Barcelona is known as the Costa Brava and has long been a major playground for Europeans who seek sun, sand and Sangria. Stage 8 covers 189 km from Tarragona/Rambla Nova to Lloret de Mar. While our journey from stage 1 in Granada has been saturated in historical links, ancient architecture and spectacular scenery, Lloret de Mar is a rude counterpoint. It is a bustling ‘tourist haven' dominated by high rise hotels and commercial glitz. One would be hard pressed to find anything Spanish here; establishments catering to foreign tourists -- English pubs with fish and chips and German beerhouses with brats and sauerkraut -- are the rule. The stage itself is one for the sprinters and the most exciting part of the day will likely be the bunch sprint into the heart of this “package holiday” Mecca.
Lloret de Mar
One day before the crucial time trial the sprinters take on the dead flat from Tarragona to Lloret de Mar. After a calm start to the stage three riders escaped at the 18 km mark and built a 7'08” lead by 48 km. The stage had 141 km to go but the breakaway was getting the attention of Alessandro Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team.
The chase getting organized ( Image © Unipublic )
The breakaway gained a maximum 9'40” before the Credit Agricole and T Mobile teams joined the chase. The relentless pressure of the chase spelled doom for the breakaway. Having been in the lead for almost 170 km in the lead the trio was caught by the peloton only 14 km from the finish. After a few short attacks Fassa Bortolo train took full control of peloton in the closing kilometers.
The Fassa lead-out was not perfect. Petacchi lost the wheel of teammate Marco Velo through the final corner at 500 meters. The beneficiary was Thor Hushovd, who led out the sprint with Petacchi and Paolo Bettini close. At the line Petacchi powered past Hushovd for his third stage win.
Stage winner Alessandro Petacchi ( Image © Unipublic )
Tomorrow's long (48 km) individual time trial will be crucial for the contenders to Roberto Heras' Golden Jersey.
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