Vuelta Stage 5

Today's race was interesting to watch because the crosswinds were tearing apart the peloton. In many ways it reminds me of the opening chapters of Steven Berlin Johnson's Emergence, in that many of the riders were making individual, localized decisions that resulted in some pretty interesting macro behavior.

The peloton was very large, and the cross-winds were very strong. The front half of the peloton used only half of the road (so less people could ride in the sheltered pocket) so that the back half would be less protected from the wind. In response the riders in the back half of the peloton started forming a diagonal line to deflect the wind from the side. The other riders, seeing this shield form, started peeling off into the pocket being created by it. However, too many people peeled off that a huge gap was created between the back half and the front half, and the peloton split into two distinct groups. Anyway, hard to imagine without having seen it, but it makes the race fun to watch when the race is really flat.

In the end, it was another victory for Petacchi. Lampre's leadout man Alessandro Cortinovis went down in a corner in the final kilometer, which broke up the final sprint, and Petacchi easily cruised to his second Vuelta victory, and 12th grand tour victory.

- Stage 5 Summary (VeloNews)
- Stage 5 Summary (cyclingnews)
- Stage 5 Route Profile

related articles: Vuelta a Espana 2003