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September 5 post: Stage 16 is a rolling stage as we leave the Castilla y León region heading east through Burgos before descending off the northern plateau to the flat finish in Haro in the neighboring La Rioja province. The Vuelta a España often starts or finishes in Burgos but not this year. Burgos hosts the Vuelta a Burgos stage race in early August which used as the warm-up event for the Vuelta a España. Our current leader, Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC), was third overall at that event.

Haro, the finish host, looks like a great small town; they love their bike racing as witnessed when the Vuelta passed through in 2007 and each June locals and visitors dowse one another in red wine during the Haro Wine Festival.

The riders are plainly exhausted. The hot, demanding route has made this one of the most difficult Vueltas in years. If this stage occurred in the first week it would likely end in a field sprint, but this being the start of the third week many riders will be happy to see a break escape. Riders that specialize in breaks will know this and will be extra-motivated. — Steve