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August 26 post: With Stage 7, we start heading to the northern part of Spain. The 188 km route between Almadén and Talavera de la Reina is rolling almost flat by Vuelta standards. It crosses one of the most sparsely populated regions of the Spain, the autonomous Castile-La Mancha where the famous/classic novel, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes was set.

I messed up my analysis of the finish yesterday as the cat 2 climb and descent were more difficult than I realized. But, for this stage, the profile is much flatter, there are no categorized climbs and the run into Talavera de la Reina is straight and flat so it sets up well for a field sprint. This is the fifth time Talavera de la Reina has hosted a stage with 2007 being the last visit when Daniele Bennati won a sprint finish. He wore the Red leader's jersey earlier in this year's Vuelta and he'll be one of the favorites. — Steve