La Vuelta 2021 - Stage 8: Santa Pola > La Manga del Mar Menor 173,7 km **Spoilers**
Stage 8: Santa Pola > La Manga del Mar Menor 173,7 km21-08-2021
Start time 12-34pm
The second Saturday offers the sprinters what could be their fourth chance to go head to head, as the stage is another one without any categorised difficulties. The stage is mainly played out on the Costa Cálida, in east Murcia. Starting in Santa Pola, just to the south of Alicante, the route follows the Costa Blanca south through Torrevieja. The race cuts inland through Torre Pacheco to reach Cartagena, site of the intermediate sprint. The inland spin in the last 70 kilometres features a number of small climbs, but presumably not enough to thwart a bunch sprint form happening. The riders will then turn eastwards, heading towards the finale at La Manga del Mar Menor.
Little more than 100 metres wide, this sandy strip of land separates the Mediterranean from the inland Mar Menor, which has become a huge watersports centre. It’s been 41 years since La Vuelta last visited La Manga del Mar Menor. In 1980, the town hosted the Big Start and Roberto Visentini won the ITT on the first day of action.
The only thing that could stop this stage from ending in a bunch sprint is the wind, but unfortunately this isn't the high plateau.
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Located 20 km from Alicante, Santa Pola features several kilometres of coastline and numerous beaches, making it one of Alicante’s most attractive localities.
However, two days before the start of La Vuelta, Santa Pola was hit on Wednesday night by the freak weather incident, which caused tsunami-like waves to hit the coastal area.
Santa Pola is, at present, a coastal fishing and tourist town. Historically, this port proved paramount for the development of the region's maritime commerce.
La Manga del Mar Menor
3 stages of La Vuelta
La Manga combines tourism, biodiversity, beaches and an excellent climate. It also has an extraordinary list of cycling achievements under its belt. Though it has only hosted three La Vuelta finish-lines, all of them have been very relevant to the race’s history. Highlights include the Official Departure of La Vuelta 1980 and the passing through of La Vuelta 1977, with Freddy Maertens’ legendary performance. His victory in La Manga was the second of 13 stage victories obtained within the same edition, a record that remains unbroken.
The gastronomy of La Manga is notable for the variety and quality of its fish and seafood.
Typical of the area are the bream and mullet in salt, as well as the shrimp. Also very important is the salt fish: the red, roe of mullet and tuna of hijada, which fla are seasoned and accompanied by raw and tender beans or fried almonds.
"Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.