By David Hunter
Alcala de Henares – Madrid 97.8km
As I thought, Aru broke Dumoulin. It was a show of strength from Astana, who got their tactics perfect. All that remains is a sprint finish in Madrid.
We are faced with the normal circuit around the streets of Madrid. The u-turn at 1km to go, is the most important part of the stage. This can be an incredibly messy sprint, especially with a lot of tired teams.
After Rodriguez and Valverde failed to take their 10th Vuelta win, it’s time for John Degenkolb to deliver. The German has been disappointing, but he has one last chance to deliver.
Despite having worked very hard, Giant can still control this race. At under 100km, they should only need a couple of men to hold the break. That will leave Dumoulin, Stamsnijder, Waeytens, Mezgec, De Kort and Degenkolb. Forget about the previous stages, this is one hell of a line up. After missing out on red, they will be determined to end on a high.
Realistically, only Trek and Orica, stand in their way. Trek has already won through Van Poppel. He has Irizar, Zoidl and his brother, Boy. This is an okay line up at best.
Orica have Hayman, Howson, Keukeleire, Impey and Gerrans. They have won with Ewan and taken a 2nd place with Impey, but I’m not sure if he’ll sprint. Gerrans has still not had a “hit out” and he needs one before the worlds. I think Orica will turn to him and get Impey to lead out.
Giant and Orica are the best teams here and will be competing to control the bunch, inside the final kilometres. The Aussies are masters at timing their charge to perfection, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them control the final corner. Gerrans is not as fast as Degenkolb, so he needs a perfect lead out and a sprint of 150m. Gerro isn’t slow, he’s beaten riders like Greipel and Sagan before.
The rest will look to challenge for the podium. We should see Reynes, Barbero, Maes, Van Asbroeck, Richeze, Sbaragli, Van der Sande and Drucker all giving it their all. At this stage of the race, it’s impossible to tell who still has good legs!
It has to be Degenkolb. He owes his teammates a victory. Hopefully Gerrans gets a chance to show some form before the worlds.
Thank you all for reading my previews over the last 3 weeks and the season. It’s a privilege that so many people read my work, in English and Spanish. A huge thanks to Pablo Palermo for his translating skills and wonderful website. If you would like to follow me on twitter, I am @cyclingmole
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