By David Hunter
Mos > Puebla de Sanabria 230.8km
230km, over 4000m of climbing, and in the final week of a grand tour. Whose idea was this?
The opening 50km is relatively flat, then the lumpy stuff begins. We have five cat 3 climbs, but many more unclassified little kickers. This is a draining day in the saddle, especially as we’re 15 stages into a grand tour, and we now find ourselves in November.
There will be a very strong headwind for the whole stage, and quite a lot of rain in the afternoon. Not what you want to hear when it’s a 230km stage in the final week of a grand tour.
This is the last of the classified climbs, which crests with 20km to go. Like all the climbs in this stage, it isn’t hard, but they are still tricky.
The final 400m rises at an average of 5.1%, it’s a nasty little finish.
We’ve been here twice before, with Michael Matthews winning in 2013 and Jonas Van Genechten in 2016. This grippy finish suits those with power.
We have three sprint teams here: QuickStep, Bora and UAE. Do any of these teams want to control a 230km stage with 4000m of climbing? I think the obvious answer to that is no. The only way this ends in a sprint is if a weak break escapes, not featuring the sprint teams, and they work together to pull it all back together. This is very unlikely, it’s another great day to be in the breakaway.
Everyone wants to make the morning break, which means it will be very hard to do so. The stage starts with around 1km at 6%, which is a great way to test some legs, but not long enough for the break to form. Teams will have to think carefully about their tactics for this stage. Ideally, you have a number of riders with the ability to make the move, so you can rotate attacks, in the hope of striking lucky.
The other option is to try and mark some strong riders. Following every move of riders like Cavagna is another way of trying to get in the move. Like always, making the break will require luck and legs.
Remi Cavagna – was in the initial move today, but was caught. This type of stage is ideal for a rider with a big engine like his, he has to be QuickStep’s best option, but will they try and control the stage for Bennett?
Sam Bennett – controlling this stage for a sprint all depends on the size and composition of the breakaway. For it to all come back together, the break needs to have fewer than seven riders, and not feature any of the big hitters. If this somehow happens, Bennett will be the big favourite as he’s clearly the fastest sprinter in the bunch. The timing of this sprint is very important, the rise to the line means you can’t launch too early.
Tim Wellens – the fact he won today doesn’t mean he can’t win this stage. Wellens clearly has strong legs just now and is brilliant at making the right breaks.
Rui Costa – with the race finishing close to the Portuguese border, the former world champion must be hugely motivated for this stage. Surprisingly he wasn’t in any of today’s move, was he saving himself for this stage? He’ll also like the weather forecast.
Nelson, Ivo & Rui Oliveira – see above, the Portuguese boys will be up for this one.
Magnus Cort – Woods got in the move today, it should be his turn in this stage. Like so many picks, it all depends on them making the break, and it staying away.
Michael Valgren – the longer the stage, the better he is. He’ll like the look of this stage and a good performance will certainly help in any future contract negotiations.
Astana – it would have been quiet at tonight’s dinner table. How on Earth a team as strong as Astana missed today’s break I’ll never know. Is it possible for them to miss two consecutive breaks? Surely not. They have so many options, but Fraile and Aranburu would be the best considering the finish.
Ricardo Vilela – local boy.
I’ll go with one of the Portuguese riders as this is huge opportunity for them to land a stage near home. A day for Rui Costa.
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2020 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved