Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 13 Preview

By David Hunter

Bilbao – Urdax-Dantxarinea 213.4km

V13a

The race continues in the Basque Country, with the longest stage of the entire race.

v13

Incredible that this stage has 3720m of climbing in it, but only cat 3 climbs. This is a killer of a stage, it is 1000m more climbing than today. The climbs are not difficult looking on paper, but in the reality of a grand tour, these climbs will do some serious damage to the peloton. Once over the official climbs, the fun isn’t over. The last unclassified climb is very difficult, ending with a false flat and then a descent to the line. This is an impossible stage to hold together, I wonder if anyone will try.

The Finish

v13b

The finish is very straightforward. The long straight road is not good news for a rider trying to hold off a chasing group. Just before the finish we have an unclassified climb. It is 4.8km at 3%, but has some steeper sections in it. This long drag will seriously line out the bunch, coming so late in a long stage. It provides a perfect launchpad for a late attack.

Tactics

Get a man in the break and take it easy! The weekend contains some massive mountains, the GC riders will all be looking for an easy day in the saddle. With 3720m of climbing, it’s highly unlikely that a sprinter will fancy their chances. It’s the day for the monster break, but beware Astana. They seem like the only team willing to chase on non-mountain days. Looking at their squad, it’s hard to see them winning the stage from the bunch, LL Sanchez, isn’t fast enough.

Contenders

Pieter Serry – has looked in sparkling form. Serry is one of those amazing riders who can do everything. He actually has a really fast sprint, compared to most riders.

Zdenek Stybar – has to go for the break! Without any big climbs, this stage looks good for him. He’s already displayed some great form, a win would be the icing on the cake.

Jan Bakelants – having worked hard all season for others, Bakelants is now enjoying some well earned freedom.

Simon Pellaud – haven’t seen him since earlier in the race. The Swiss champ loves a breakaway!

JJ Rojas – even Movistar might fancy joining in the fun! The Spanish champion would give them a solid chance of taking a win.

Salvatore Puccio – the deluxe domestique has been rather quiet in the race. After a wonderful early season, it would be good to see the Italian cut loose.

Damien Howson – can Orica make it two from two? With a number of talented riders in their ranks, they have plenty of options. Howson is a very strong rider. He can TT and climb well.

Philippe Gilbert – made the break today, but was caught. He’s still searching for his stage win, I have confidence in him.

Fabio Felline – today was another frustrating day for Felline. Now with three podium spots, he is desperate for a win. It looks like a very difficult day for Trek to control, but it seems like their last chance for a stage win. It would be good to see them attempting to set it up for their man.

Gianni Meersman – has a small chance of staying with the bunch. The Belgian is no stranger to rolling terrain, but this is a big ask for him.

Kristian Sbaragli – I was very surprised to see him making the finish today. That was one hell of a ride from the Italian sprinter. Dimension Data will happily work with Trek, if there looks like a chance of bringing the break back.

Prediction Time

As long as Astana don’t miss the break, this should be a day for the breakaway. I don’t think Trek have the strength required to bring the race back together. Looking at his current form, Pieter Serry, won’t be far from winning.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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