By David Hunter
Colunga – Peña Cabarga 168.6km
The day after the rest day.
Riders are always worried about how their legs respond after a rest day. Considering the finish that is ahead of them, they will be more worried than usual.
Another boring day, until the final 6km, but I’ll take that! The climb of Peña Cabarga is one of the hardest in cycling, the riders will appreciate an easy day before that point.
Last time we were here, Vasil Kiryienka, won from a breakaway. Behind in the peloton, it was Chris Horner who surprised a few, by dropping Nibali. That laid the foundations for him to go and take the red jersey.
The climb is 5.6km long, at an average gradient of 9.8%. Remarkably, that includes almost a kilometre of flat. This climb is brutal, one of the hardest in cycling. The fans will be going crazy and would love a local winner. This is a huge day for the boys from Caja Rural, this is their area!
The final two kilometres of the climb seem to go on for ever. If you get dropped with 2km remaining, you could end up losing a huge amount of time.
Just like the other stages will brutal finishes, tactics mean very little. With little benefits from drafting, this is man versus man. Teams simply have to deliver their captain to the front of the bunch, as the climb begins. Then it’s over to them.
We’ve had a race dominated by breakaways, it’s been a great race for the opportunists. The stage is very easy to control, with lots of flat. Monday was won by Movistar, so they know have their stage. That only increases the chances of a break staying away. No other team will want to chase and set Quintana up for another stage win, plus bonus seconds.
Angel Madrazo – local boy and has been targeting this stage. Twitter would go into melt down if he managed to do it, as he is a hugely popular rider in the world of cycling.
Ben Hermans – the Belgian rider has been in sparkling form recently. He was 2nd in Burgos, a result that really caught my eye. He looked good in the break on Monday and this finish suits him better.
Andrey Zeits – the beast! Has looked incredibly strong recently, in Rio and here in Spain. Astana have cut lose all of their domestiques, leaving Scarponi to look after himself. Zeits is a real talent and I love seeing him ride for himself.
Fabio Felline – you might be surprised by this selection, but he is very strong on steep slopes. He has a 2nd and 3rd place already in this race, but he wants a win. Hopefully he makes the morning move.
Omar Fraile – the short explosive climb does suit his style. Still looking for that first stage win, and he’ll keep trying.
Mathias Frank – two breakaway attempts already by Frank, and he’s been close on both occasions. He’s another that is an explosive climber, so the finish is good for him. He seems particularly strong just now.
Nairo Quintana – at his very best. If the race comes back together, it’s hard to see him not winning. It’s great to see him back on form.
Alejandro Valverde – will play second fiddle to Quintana, so it’s hard to see him taking the stage.
Chris Froome – just like Saturday and Monday, Froome will find himself up against it. This is not the Tour de France!
The break stays away and Zeits takes a huge win. Back in the bunch, Quintana will take another 30 seconds on Froome. That final kilometre is horrible!
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