Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 18 Preview

By David Hunter

Requena – Gandía 200.6km

v18a

A day for the sprinters?

v18

With “only” 2593m of climbing, this is a day the sprinters will hope to win. The cat 2 climb is 13.3km at 3.8%, which is not going to scare any of the riders. With 3269m of descending in the stage, this should be easy enough to control, but it’s the 3rd week of the Vuelta. That means we have tired legs and few teams with the energy to chase. It’s a dream stage for the breakaway artists.

The Finish

v18b

The little kicker at 4km, will draw out a few attacks. Three roundabouts in the final 1.5km, will line the bunch out, very much like what happened on Monday.

Breakaway Chances

With lots of tired legs, it really does depend on the size and composition of the break. Most of the sprinter teams will happily throw a rider in the break and have an easy day. If we get the right mix of breakaway riders, it will go the distance.

Contenders

Zdenek Stybar – another storming lead out by the Czech star on Monday. His form is brilliant just now, but he’s been stuck working for the team. This is his last chance to take some individual success. Etixx would like to get a rider in the break, he would give them a wonderful chance of success.

LL Sanchez – Astana are still searching for their stage win, he represents their best chance. A good rider with a solid sprint.

Jan Bakelants – absent from today’s break, you can bet he’ll be looking to make the move in this stage. Bakelants is another rider with a fast finish and can attack from distance.

Moreno Moser – has been active in this race, but working for other people. It would be nice to see the Italian given the freedom to ride for himself.

Pello Bilbao – was excellent today, but I think this stage suits him better. After a poor beginning to the race, he really seems to be finding his feet.

Omar Fraile – just 3 points behind Elissonde and with 5 points on offer for the cat 2, he’s bound to try for the break. Once there, the Spaniard has the quality required to take the stage win he so dearly wants.

Fabio Felline – really deserves a stage win, but if he makes the break, the others will lean on him.

Nikias Arndt – just in case it comes back together. I still think he is the fastest sprinter here.

Prediction Time

I can’t see any team wanting to control this stage. Expect to see a monster break and an easy day for the peloton. I just can’t ignore the form of Zdenek Stybar, he’s my pick for the stage.

OVERALL PREVIEW

David Hunter

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