Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 16 Preview

By David Hunter

Alcañiz – Peñiscola 156.4km

v16a

A day the sprinters have been waiting for.

v16

After a very challenging two weeks, the peloton deserve a day like this. A nice long drag for 90km, an easy 50km descent, before a final flat of 15km. The categorised climb is 3.4km at 5.2%, although there is an uncategorised climb just after.

This stage will be very easy to control. With so many tired legs, I expect a very small break to get away and then the sprinter teams will take over, with Giant and Etixx doing most of the work. If this stage doesn’t end in a sprint, then something is seriously wrong with the world!

The Finish

v16b

The last 5km is as easy as the whole stage. A lovely long road, with just a few roundabouts to deal with. The last corner comes with over 1km to go, before a long straight along the sea front. Teams need only get interested from 3km out.

A Rare Sprint

With just two sprint stages in the opening two weeks, we haven’t seen a lot from most sprinters. Gianni Meersman is the clear exception. He and his Etixx lead out have been dominant. Although, Van Genechten, did take a very good stage win on stage 7, but you can’t classify that as a flat bunch kick.

Contenders

Gianni Meersman – two wins and a team that know how to deliver him with 200m to go. Meersman is the big favourite. Experience is also in his favour, as some of the younger riders are competing in their first grand tour. Stybar to Lampaert to Meersman will be very hard to beat.

Nikias Arndt – Giant have a very good sprint train, we just haven’t seen it yet! Arndt won the final stage of this year’s Giro, so he can cope with the demands of three week racing. He will need Koen De Kort at his very best, but the German does have a chance of beating Meersman.

Daniele Bennati – He’s won Vuelta stages in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012, I wonder if he can roll back the clock?

Jempy Drucker – was expecting more than just a couple of top 10s. Has the speed to challenge, but form is not great.

Magnus Cort Nielsen – first grand tour and spent a lot of energy in the break on Saturday. Does he have anything left? If not, Simon Gerrans, might get a little chance.

Fabio Feline – no Bonifazio, so Felline will have a bash. Not as fast as the others, but after two weeks of a grand tour, he could well make the podium.

Tosh Van Der Sande – top 10.

Kristian Sbaragli – top 10.

Michael Schwarzmann – youngster who impressed in the opening sprint. I would imagine that he is cooked.

Jonas Van Genechten – what a huge result he took last week. It was a massive surprise to see him winning a stage, but he does have the speed. The problem with Van Genechten is his inconsistency, he takes it to new levels! Could challenge for the win, or finish outside the top 10. You decide!

Prediction Time

Meersman v Arndt. I said before the race started that I expected Arndt to win some stages. Despite his poor performances so far, I will stick by him. A stage win for Nikias Arndt.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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