By David Hunter
Motril – Antequera 160.1km
This is the stage I should be at! The peloton will roll straight past where I go on holiday, Nerja.
This is a beautiful part of Spain.
Don’t be fooled by the opening 37km, they look easy, but certainly won’t be. The roads in this part of the world are rarely flat and there are a few testing ramps that will interest those trying to make the morning move. One moment it’s flat, then you have a 10% ramp.
We then have 40km of flat, before heading up into the hills.
The climb up to Puerto del Leon is long and difficult. We have 17.4km at an average of 4.9%, but that does include two descents. The climbing sections are fairly steady, somewhere between 5 and 7%. A descent follows, but there are a few uncategorised bumps to test the legs, before the bunch begins the final climb of the day.
Puerto del Torcal is 8.2km at 6.5%, this includes a 3km stretch at nearly 9%. Do not let the cat 2 status fool you! From the top, the riders have 20km remaining.
Quite an easy finish to the stage, but the final 500m does rise at around 4%. If we get any type of sprint, the little kick will make it very interesting.
After some recent storms, the riders are in for a pleasant day. Not the uncomfortable temperatures of last week, just a lovely day for cycling.
Another brilliant day for the break. They even have a slight tailwind on both climbs! No team will want to control this stage, it seems far too complicated. Instead, expect to see a big break escape the bunch. It might take a while, but once established, the break will gain a huge lead over the pack.
Team Classification Battle
As Movistar don’t have a contender for the top 10, they want to win this. They currently lead Astana by 1:49 and Sky by 7:40. It seems like a fight between Movistar and Astana. This is a stage where Movistar can take a commanding lead, especially as Astana need riders to look after Lopez and Aru. The Spaniards will look to place 3 riders in the move and all but seal this prize. Astana will try and get in the mix, but it’s not a huge focus for them.
Davide Villella continues to wear the polka dots, but he will be facing a big fight. Froome is 17 points back, with Atapuma at 20. It is the Colombian that looks the biggest threat, as he is sure to chase some points. With 10 awarded for the cat 1 climb, I think the Puma will try and make the morning move.
Julian Alaphilippe – it’s been ages since QuickStep took a win! The Belgians are dominating stage wins, already with four to their name. Their French star started the race in poor form, but that quickly changed, on Friday. Today, he lasted a long way with the main group of favourites, riding to help David De La Cruz. This stage will see him chasing some more personal glory, but they have other options if he doesn’t make the move. We’ve seen that it’s tough to get away in the Vuelta.
Rui Costa – the former world champion is now chasing stage wins, but he sounds a little down to me. This is the type of stage that should suit him, where he can use his climbing ability and sprinting speed. UAE have already taken a stage win and have impressed since the start of the race. Costa needs to find his early season form.
Rohan Dennis – not a great day for BMC, with Van Garderen and Roche dropping out of contention. That will free up the rest of the team to attack. Dennis stated that he was only coming to this race for stages, but he has suffered some bad luck, crashing the other day. He has the ability to win a stage like this.
Darwin Atapuma – the Puma is going to be chasing KOM points! He looked in fine form today, but the start of the stage is a worry for me. To make the break, he needs to take advantage of some of the little kickers. He will not make a break that forms, at high speed, on the flat. This is a stage he’ll struggle to win, thanks to the descent and potential sprint, but he does have good form.
Alexey Lutsenko – gone a little quiet since his way back in Alcossebre. This is a wonderful looking stage for Luts, with the climbs coming near the middle of the stage. He is a rider that packs a very fast sprint, he is deceptively quick. With Astana looking to contend for the team classification, he should have freedom to join the morning move.
Omar Fraile – such a shame that illness has destroyed his Vuelta. At some point, he will start to feel better and I hope that happens soon. It would be great to see him with his Giro form.
Movistar – they have options galore! I can’t think of them missing a break in the last week, they have been incredibly consistent. Of their 8 riders, only Arcas has little chance of stage success. With 7 options, no wonder they keep hitting the breaks. Take your pick from Moreno, Oliveira, Soler, Carapaz, Pedrero, Rojas and Fernandez.
QuickStep v Movistar. Has to be a win for Julian Alaphilippe. Expect no major change in the GC.
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2017 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved