Vuelta a España – Stage 15 Preview

By David Hunter

Ribera de Arriba – Lagos de Covadonga 178.2km

Another enormous day in the GC battle, not to mention the battle for the points and KOM jersey!

We have a gentle start to the day, with 6.1km at 4.7% starting after 14km. The climb is long enough for the morning’s break to form. If it doesn’t we have three unclassified climbs that also look tough enough to snap the elastic. Once the break forms, the peloton can settle down and brace themselves for the final 90km of the day.

With 10 KOM points available on each passing of Mirador del Fito, this is an important moment in the KOM battle. It looks like Maté is not feeling very well, leaving De Gendt, King and Mollema to battle for control of that classification. Up next is one of Spain’s most feared climbs.

11.7km at 7.2%, this is a proper test of climbing ability. Many of the GC riders will be delighted to see this mountain, instead of the shorter climbs we’ve had in the last few days. Last time we were here it was Nairo Quintana taking the win, the previous time it was a breakaway win for Przemysław Niemiec. This stage will see a massive sorting of the GC and we’ll see who the real contenders are for the red jersey.

Please note that the proper climbing stops after 10km, the riders then head downhill, before a sharp rise to the finish.

Weather

It should stay sunny, but there is a chance of rain throughout the day. The wind is light and coming from the north, no headwind on the climb!

Breakaway Hopes

Simon Yates is back in red and that is brilliant news for the breakaway riders. We’ve already seen that his team don’t waste any energy chasing the morning move and they only way they’ll get interested is if a GC threat makes the move. This is unlikely to happen, meaning the break are likely to challenge for the stage win.

GC Battle

Today was very revealing, with Simon Yates timing his attack to perfection. He now sits in overall control, but the Colombians look strong. Quintana and López will want to drop the Englishman and try to ride him out of contention. This certainly won’t be easy, Yates looks in good form, but the Colombians seem a little stronger.

Contenders

Bauke Mollema – everyone loves a trier. Poor old Bauke, he just always seems to come up short. This climb is one that really should suit him, it’s a true test of climbing ability. To try and claim the KOM jersey, he really needs to be in the morning move and then hope to take the stage. He was able to take it easy today, hopefully he feels nice and fresh for this test.

Ben King – two stage wins, is it possible to take three? Confidence is up, but I just can’t see him winning on this mountain.

Alessandro De Marchi – looking to take a second stage win and BMC have been ultra active in the breaks. With no one challenging on GC, the team are able to throw all resources behind making the morning move and putting multi riders up the road. They have a number of climbers who could win this stage, De Marchi is just one option.

Thomas De Gendt – looked nice and strong today, taking big points in the KOM competition. He’s already taken big wins on mythical climbs, I’m sure he’d like to add this one. The problem for De Gendt is that sometimes he gets his tactics wrong, trying to ride too hard early in the stage. He must save energy for this finish.

Pierre Rolland – seems stuck on Uran duty, but you never know, he might get some freedom. A proper climber, he’ll love this stage.

Nairo Quintana – if the break comes back, this is a climb that Quintana loves. Today he was frustrated as López refused to work with him when they got a gap, I doubt this happens again. Quintana will use the longer climb to try and put a big marker down and take control of the red jersey.

Prediction Time

Mitchelton-Scott will not be chasing this break down, it will survive to the end. I think we’ll see Bauke Mollema eventually taking a well deserved win. Back in the GC group, I think the Colombians will put Yates to the sword, but they won’t be able to shake each other.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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