Ruta Del Sol 2015 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

Maracena – Alto de Allanadas 199.8km

and4After the brutality of today’s final climb, the riders face an even harder stage. Not what they want to hear

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We have 4 categorised climbs: 3 cat 3s and a cat 1. We also have a number of uncategorised climbs, meaning a lack of flat kilometres. After all the crashes on stage 1 and the test today, legs and bodies will be sore.

Most teams are thinking the same……get in the break. The break has a great chance of success today, as most riders are way down on GC, Contador has his stage win and no one else will work on the front of the peloton. Today is certainly the day for the break.

Unless Team Sky decide that they want to make things hard for Tinkoff – Saxo. They could put one of their many GC threats in the break and force Saxo into working hard. I doubt this will happen though, it isn’t Sky’s style.

Getting in the break might be a little harder than today. Tinkoff won’t want a huge break, so you’ll have to earn your spot.

Someone who’ll be there is Peio Bilbao. He currently leads the KOM competition and Caja Rural always like to win this jersey, no matter what race. Bilbao is a very talented, young rider. He’s 24 years old, can climb mountains and sprint quite fast. He rode for Euskaltel – Euskadi for 3 years before switching, last year, to Caja Rural. In the 2014 Vuelta, he ventured into 3 breakaways, finishing a best of 5th place. He’s a talent!

Who else will want to join the break? Everyone! To win this stage you have to be a talented climber, thanks to the final mountain. The final climb is 4.4km at 10.4%, with the last 3km at 13%. This is cruel!

Looking down GC the real climbers are: Duarte, Vanendert, Wellens, Navarro, Capecchi, Visconti, Prades, Hardy, Peraud, Kruijswick, Wyss, Paterski, Torres, Zubeldia, Riblon, Rolland, Sicard and Kelderman. This is quite a list of climbing talent. The difficulty is sorting those who can do with those who aren’t in form.

The Movistar riders will still be needed to help Intxausti defend his place on the podium, although Visconti would have a good chance from the break. Europcar will be in the break and Sicard should be their man. Trek have said they will go for the break, Zubeldia is their only hope of a stage win. Riblon was in today’s break, he’s a danger. I think Kelderman will stay with the peloton to measure himself against the best, that could free up Kruijswick for an attack. Wellens seems a very obvious choice, but Vanendert might surprise. Team Colombia will want a bit of the action and they have two options in Duarte and Torres, both are exceptional climbers.

Back in the peloton, the GC is still to be decided. Contador was brilliant today, but Froome was also impressive. He managed to limit his losses to 19 seconds, gaining around 15 seconds in the final 4km. It was the initial attack that surprised Froome and Team Sky. This was very poor from them and they’ll want to do better. Looking at the two men climbing, I think they look about equal just now. As a confidence boost, Team Sky would like a stage win for Froome. They have previous for not letting breaks succeed and I think they are the only team standing in the way of a successful break.

As we hit the final climb, expect Sky to set the pace, they won’t be surprised again. Can Froome surprise Contador and take back the 27 seconds required to win the GC, that is very unlikely. It is quite possible for Froome to beat Contador and take the stage and some pride back.

Prediction Time

Has to be the break for me. I expect a battle between Wellens and Bilbao. The Belgian, Tim Wellens, should have enough to win. He’s already in form, finishing 2nd and 10th in Mallorca.

David Hunter

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