By David Hunter
Roquetas de Mar > Rincón de la Victoria 189km
The second week begins and we’re now down in the Costa del Sol.
This stage has breakaway written all over it, no way will we see someone try to hold this together. The cat 2 climb is far too hard for the fast men and it’s too far from home for a GC team to contemplate chasing the break. Just like on Sunday the battle for the break will be fierce and likely to go on for a long time.
Once the break goes things will settle down and the bunch will get to enjoy the beautiful towns in this part of the world. After 130km we head through Nerja, where I’ve been going on holiday for the past 20 years. Hopefully COVID can go away, and I can get back there soon!
Hot as hell! As the race hugs the coastline, and the wind is coming off the sea, there will be talk of echelons. The wind looks to be at its strongest at the beginning of the stage, but it should weaken as the day goes on. I don’t think we’ll see echelons.
I’ve decided to show you more than just the cat 2 climb. The roads in this part of the world are incredibly steep, just look at all the red sections. The approach to the climb is very hard and then we have 4.5km at 9.1%, it has lots of sections way above 10%. The crest comes with 16km remaining, all of which is downhill.
The descent is very technical and very fast, it’s borderline dangerous. A confident descender will be able to put considerable time into their rivals. It also helps to know the descent, but this is not an area the riders will know, they’ll all be on VeloViewer tonight checking it out.
All the talk will be of the super sprinters like Matthews, Cort and Trentin. They have the power to make the morning break and are all climbing well. The problem will be if a proper climber also makes the move, as 4.5km at 9.5% will be much better suited to them. As usual in these types of stages, the composition of the break will decide the type of winner we get.
We will see GC action on the climb, it’s a good chance for some to take back time. The problem for everyone is the form of Primož Roglič, it’s hard to see anyone dropping him. Instead, it’s more likely we’ll see someone a little further down on GC sneaking off the front and taking some time back, but the stage will already be won by the breakaway.
Alex Aranburu – he came so close to winning the opening stage, I would expect him to win a stage at some point during the race. The climb is a little on the hard side for him, but the descent is perfect. If he loses time on the climb, I expect him to take it back on the descent. This looks a good stage for him but making the break won’t be easy.
Andrea Bagioli – he’s looked in fine form during the first week, his ride in Cullera was very impressive. The Italian is a huge talent, it won’t be long until he takes his first world tour win. Without a GC rider, Deceuninck – Quick Step can throw everything into getting their men in the break. If Bagioli makes it, he’ll be a hard man to beat.
Mauri Vansevenant – he’s in the same position as Bagioli, this stage is good for both of them. Deceuninck will hope both make the break, that will give them a tactical advantage.
Michael Matthews – another who impressed in Cullera. The Aussie will look to try and get in the morning break, and he’ll have his whole team supporting him. If he makes the break his chances of success depends on the climbing talent in the front group. Matthews will be able to do well on this climb, I don’t think he’ll lose too much time to a climber, and he can also descend well.
Jan Tratnik – he knows how to win stages like this. The climb isn’t his cup of tea, but he can use his tactical ability to outfox the stronger climbers.
Max Schachmann – he’s not hit form yet in this race, but he’ll keep believing. This is a great stage for the German, he’ll like the look of the climb and he has a fast finish, but he’ll need better legs.
Jesús Herrada – loves a medium mountain stage, he’s a specialist in this type of day. Like everyone else he’ll need some luck to make the break, if he gets there, he’ll be a danger.
Andreas Kron – the young Dane has enjoyed a great season, with stage wins in Catalunya and Suisse. He’s another who’ll like this stage, and we saw on Friday that he has good legs.
Magnus Cort – already has one stage win, but he’ll want more. His current form is clearly good and he’s climbing better than ever. Cort has the power required to make the break, he must start as one of the favourites.
Wout Poels – Bahrain will want representation in the break, and Poels is out of the GC picture, so he’ll have freedom. He’s not the best descender, so he’ll need a nice gap over the top of the climb, which is possible considering how good he goes uphill.
Jhonatan Narváez – hopefully Ineos will allow their domestiques some freedom in this stage, it looks their best chance of getting a stage. Narváez is a brilliant cyclist, I love his punchy style. This is a good stage for him if he’s allowed to attack.
Matteo Trentin – just like Matthews and Cort, he’s one of the climbing sprinters who’ll fancy his chances in this stage. He looked very strong the other day riding for Polanc, it looks like his form is where he needs it to be. He has the experienced required to sniff out the right break, but he’ll also need some luck.
Carlos Verona – this dude has some legs on him just now! Second behind Storer on Friday and then he pops up and finishes with Vlasov and Aru on Sunday, the force is strong in him just now. The Spaniard is one of those loyal workers, he’s always slogging away for the benefit of others. Movistar will want representation in the break to try and hold onto the team classification. If Verona makes the move, he could surprise and take the win.
4.5km at 9.5% means you must be able to climb well to win this stage. I think the day is perfect for Deceuninck – Quick Step, we’ll see a win for Andrea Bagioli.
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