By David Hunter
Ribeira Sacra. Luintra – Mombuey 207.8km
Definitely not a sprint stage.
I’ll start with the road book. The organisers claim this stage has 2010m of climbing, but it’s actually more like 3750m! Quite a different story. One of the main issues the riders have to face is the move to one of the most challenging areas in the whole of Spain.
Welcome to Galicia
The land where roads are never flat or straight. We have four categorised climbs:- 5.7km at 5.3%, 9.5km at 4%, 10.5km at 4.6% and 8.8km at 4.3%. Not only that but we have another four uncategorised climbs and a final kilometre at 4%, just a standard stage in the land of Spain.
Standard Uncategorised Vuelta Beauty
This little beauty crests with just 3km to go. As you can see, it makes it possible for this stage to see some GC attacks. If the break stays away, this is the point where the winner will emerge. We used the same finish in 2016, with Simon Yates managing to escape the bunch on this climb, he held on to take the win.
The whole stage is interesting, but the final kilometre is quite tough. Rising just under 4%, this is a finish that will make some of the GC riders a little nervous.
Welcome to the North! We have cloud, sun and a chance of rain. The temperature is down to 21 degrees.
Brilliant. No way the sprinters can survive this stage and no way a GC team tries to control it. This is the day for a classic monster breakaway!
Omar Fraile – was in the break here back in 2016, but gambled by going solo. That effort failed, but we all know what a brilliant rider he’s turned into. As I have mentioned before, Fraile is just a Vuelta win away from the joining the grand tour club. That’s riders who have won stages in all three of the big races. He’s a brilliant attacking rider and the constantly changing terrain is perfect for him. Not only that, but he packs a very fine sprint.
Dylan Teuns – climbed to an impressive 3rd place on Sunday, this is a much better stage for him. The Belgian is at home in the Ardennes and will love the profile of this stage. BMC don’t have a GC rider anymore, that means we’ll see them joining the morning break. They have the firepower to bring back unsatisfactory moves and I expect to see Teuns, Roche and De Marchi trying to escape the bunch.
Pierre Rolland – after attacking the opening few stages, Rolland has enjoyed some quiet time. This stage reminds me of the one he won in the Giro, it has a certain rolling quality. Not blessed with a sprint, he needs to arrive solo, similar to Yates in 2016. The form seems good and he’ll be a threat if he makes the move.
Gorka Izagirre – after a stellar season, I expect the Basque rider to try and win a stage of this race. Izagirre is a top class rider and is another who’ll love this type of terrain. He’s the Spanish champion, which makes him easy to spot, I hope he isn’t marked out of the move.
Valerio Conti – another one of these punchy wee climbers who performs well in this type of finish. He can climb, descend and sprint, but can mistime his attack. With UAE depleted in numbers, I hope he doesn’t have to stay and babysit Aru.
Steve Cummings – I know.
Alejandro Valverde – if the break is somehow caught, it’s a win for Bala.
The break to win and Steve Cummings to restore some faith in his ability. I know!
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