By David Hunter
Covarrubias – Lagunas de Neila 158km
We end with another beautiful climb.
Lagunas de Neila has been in this race for as long as I can remember. The climb is shorter than the one we had on Thursday, but it’s steeper.
Apart from a small section in the middle of the climb it’s basically above 10% the whole way. Ivan Sosa has won here the last two years, it’s a climb that suits the skinny climbers.
Hot, I miss Spain! The wind isn’t overly strong, but it will be a headwind on the climb.
The opening 40km of the race is basically flat, which isn’t great news for climbers who want to make the morning move. The vast majority of the peloton are no longer a threat on GC and QuickStep have no need to chase down the morning move, but they will ensure that the right move gets away. It will be up to other teams to chase in the bunch, but there should be plenty of teams willing to do this.
Once on the climb the fun will start. We have a number of brilliant climbers who are well down on GC, thanks to a variety of reasons. If they attack at the bottom of the climb QuickStep will not be chasing them down, there is a good chance of a long-range attack working. Who has the domestiques to chase such a move? The answer would be Mitchelton-Scott, they seemed to be the only team with multiple representation on Thursday, but will they chase or send someone in the move?
Evenepoel currently looks untouchable, especially as he has Almeida to help. It’s been a long time since QuickStep had two riders in the top 5 of a mountainous stage race. It looks impossible for teams to put the Belgian under pressure and crack him, so they need to change plans if they want a stage win. Launching riders early seems like a good plan to me.
Simon Yates – when he takes part in a stage race he usually wins a stage. He lost time on the opening stage after being caught behind the big crash, but he wasn’t that impressive on Thursday. He does know this climb, he was 4th back in 2016 when Pardilla took the stage. Mitchelton-Scott will need to decide if they want to go for the stage win with Chaves or Yates, but I just don’t see Chaves being able to beat Evenepoel. This looks like the perfect opportunity for Yates.
Jack Haig – just about everything I’ve written about Yates can be applied to Haig. He looked good on Thursday and gives the team another good attacking option.
Ivan Sosa – had a disaster on Thursday, getting exposed in the crosswind and using up valuable energy chasing back on. We will now have to see if Ineos allow him to attack or ride for Carapaz. Having won here on the last two visits, I hope he is allowed some freedom.
David Gaudu – had a mare the other day after being caught out in the crosswinds, needing a bike change at the foot of the climb and then struggling in the heat. Definitely one to mark down as a bad day! He now has freedom to attack without the GC riders responding, which is a great position to be in.
Ben Hermans – 3rd here in 2016, and I’ve been really impressed by him this week. Despite launching an early attack and being out in the wind for a long time he still managed to finish 6th. The enforced break has allowed him to get his fitness back up after a period of injury. Also, as the Belgians were able to train outside during the lockdown it seems that they are maybe further ahead of their rivals. Not one of the big favourites, but he certainly has a chance.
George Bennett – the best of the rest. After a strong showing on Thursday, the Kiwi will be full of confidence for this stage. The only problem is that he’ll not be allowed any freedom by QuickStep which will make winning very difficult.
Remco Evenepoel – looks miles better than everyone else. If we do get a GC fight on the climb, I can’t see anyone getting close to him. With Almeida to help with pace setting, the young Belgian will be the big favourite for the stage and overall victory.
This is a perfect opportunity for a top climber who is down on GC to take the win. Everything points to Simon Yates for the stage and Remco Evenepoel taking the overall title.
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2020 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved