Vuelta a España 2019 – Stage 15 preview

By David Hunter

Tineo – Santuario del Acebo 154.4km

Back to the mountains we go.

Just 154.4km of racing, but four cat 1 climbs, this is another big day in the battle for the red jersey.

The Climbs

The climbing starts with 6.3km at 8.2%, but the opening 3km rarely drops below 10%. This is a really tough opening climb, one where the break can open up a big gap, or possibly the peloton get blown apart.

Next up is 11.2km at 6.3%, which is the easiest climb of the day. Nothing much will happen here.

The third climb of the day is 11.1km at 7.1%. This is another steady climb, up until the final 2km when things start to get very difficult. With 30km from the crest to the final climb, it isn’t great for a long-range attack, that’s why teams need to get domestiques in the morning break. If a rider wants to attack and threaten Roglič, they will need riders to help them during this descent.

The final climb of the day, and they’ve saved the best for last. We have 7.7km at 10%, with lots of double-digit sections. After a day full of climbing, we’ll have to see how many domestiques are left for Jumbo-Visma, they know that a dominant performance in this stage will all but seal the red jersey.

Weather

Lots of sun and not that warm, perfect conditions for the majority of riders.

Tactics

Over to Astana. After a disastrous day on Friday, López is no longer on the podium and he isn’t even in the white jersey. The Colombian isn’t always great on steep climbs, but this type of day should be better for him. Astana are the team that will decide the type of race we get. Do they still believe in López? If they do, they will ride for him and go for the stage win. If they are starting to have doubts, they’ll go for the break and try to win the stage that way. Jumbo-Visma and UAE won’t be chasing down any moves, and Movistar don’t seem interested in doing so either. The fate of the break rests on the shoulders of Astana.

Once on the final climb, it will be interesting to see what Quintana does. He’s looking too far off the podium to be a serious challenger, but will he work for Valverde? As he sits a little down, he could potentially be allowed some freedom by the top 3. There is a chance for him to take another stage win, but Valverde would like some company on the climb. As always, Movistar have some big calls to make, but will their riders listen?

Contenders

Primož Roglič – after not being able to live up to expectations at the Giro, Roglič is looking in dominant form and seems to already have one arm in the red jersey. His performance on Friday was one of the most dominant displays you are likely to see, and his rivals will now be thinking he is unbeatable. Will he drive the knife home in this stage? I don’t see him wasting any energy, but if he senses weakness, he will strike.

Tadej Pogačar – I wrote him off on Friday, that will teach me! The youngster continues to surprise and delight, but we are all wondering if he can continue at this level into the third week of his first grand tour. He and Roglič will happily form an allegiance, one that is incredibly strong. After such a huge effort on Friday, I do wonder how much energy he’ll have left, but he does continue to surprise me.

Miguel Ángel López – will Astana chase the break for him? If they do, can he finish it off? The Colombian has proven to be a little inconsistent in grand tours, just because he was poor on Friday, it doesn’t mean he can’t win this stage. He is a rider who cannot be written off.

Wout Poels – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Pierre Latour – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Óscar Rodríguez – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Jakob Fuglsang – breakaway hopeful number 5.

Esteban Chaves – breakaway hopeful number 6.

Prediction Time

I think this will be another day for the breakaway, I don’t see Astana chasing. We’ve seen a number of riders keen to make the moves and challenge for a stage, lots of whom are wonderful climbers. With big gaps on GC, there is a chance for a rider sitting outside the top 10 to get in a move and challenge for a stage, that’s why I’ve included Chaves in my contenders. I will pick the rider I think is the best climber, outside of the GC guys, which means it’s a stage for Jakob Fuglsang.

*Overall preview

David Hunter

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3 comments for “Vuelta a España 2019 – Stage 15 preview

  1. Moose
    7 September, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Your continued faith in Ineos to put someone in the break to win it is touching!

    • Esteban Troncoso
      7 September, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      I think Ineos needs to show something in Vuelta. The only option is stages like this. But Poels and Geoghegan seems in a poor form.

  2. Harbey
    8 September, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Nairo will win

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