Vuelta a España 2017 – Stage 18 Preview

By David Hunter

Suances – Santo Toribio De Liebana 169km

Wall finish alert!

The stage is quite boring, compared to what we’ve had recently. Around 100km of flat roads, then three climbs in quick succession. These climbs are 4.8km at 7.3%, 6km at 6.5% and 7km at 6%. With short descents between the climbs, we are sure to see some attacking. These attacks will come in the break and in the GC group. There is every chance the main peloton is only 20 riders big at the end of the cat 2 climb. Contador is sure to attack and test the legs of Team Sky.

The problem for any attackers is the 17km from the final descent to the last climb. The road rises all the way, making it tough for a small group of riders. Team Sky will no doubt have 4 riders around Froome, making it fairly easy to bring back any move.

Finale

We are talking about 2km at nearly 10%. Perfect for Valverde and Rodriguez, such a shame they are not here. The last kilometre is the hardest section of the climb, averaging around 11%.

Despite only being 2km long, it is possible for gaps in the GC group. We will only be talking a handful of seconds, but riders will need to be careful when approaching the final 5km. A good position will be worth a few seconds.

Weather

Sun, a few clouds and a nice temperature for the bunch.

Breakaway Hopes

Another stage where the break has a good chance. Who wants to chase? QuickStep for Alaphilippe, Cannondale for Woods or Astana for Lopez?

The good news for the chasers is that the stage is only 169km and if you come to the front of the peloton early in the stage, it is easy to keep the break under control. If a team wants to control this stage, they should be able to do so.

Contenders

Julian Alaphilippe – the finish is ideal for him, but will he be tired after today? It won’t be the easiest stage for QuickStep to control, I think they might try and join the morning break. As we witnessed today, Alaphilippe is very strong just now.

Rui Costa – not really been his race. The finish is okay for him, but only if he makes the break. I think it’s almost impossible for him to win from the GC group.

Miguel Angel Lopez – will Astana try again? The Colombian didn’t have what it takes to follow Contador today, but his explosive kick is good for this finish. If the front group is small, he’ll have a good chance of taking the win.

Wilco Kelderman – another rider that will enjoy the finish. The Dutchman fought hard today, but lost some time to Zakarin. He will hope for a hard day and then he can use his sprinting speed to try and distance his rivals. He will hope to gain some time.

Michael Woods – the Canadian has been close on a number of occasions, in 2017. Tactically, he’s not the best, but he climbs very well. Eventually, Woods is going to win a stage like this. Is this the day?

Alessandro De Marchi – breakaway option number 1.

Marc Soler – breakaway option number 2.

Giovanni Visconti – breakaway option number 3.

LL Sanchez – breakaway option number 4.

Prediction Time

I’m really not sure what happens in this stage. The breakaway has a good chance, but it depends on Astana, who seem keen on chasing most moves. With big stages on Friday and Saturday, I think the break will succeed.

Looking at the breakaway riders, I like the look of LL Sanchez. He’s been impressive in this race and deserves another chance of chasing personal glory.

Back in the GC group, the gaps will be small. Hopefully, Froome doesn’t gain anytime on Nibali.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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