An unusual day’s racing and not the desired outcome from the blog’s prediction perspective, but it was still an exciting day full of drama!
Due to a lack of co-operation behind (no-one worked with Sky), the break’s gap managed to grow massively before the penultimate climb. Something then clicked in the peloton, but it ended up being too late. All of the break was caught apart from Geniez who held on for a memorable victory.
Behind, the GC touch-paper was well and truly lit! We got some relatively large gaps for what was only a 1.7km climb. Ruben Fernandez brought the peloton home and now leads the GC by 7 seconds over his team-mate Valverde, with Froome a further 4 seconds back. Both Chaves and Quintana are 17 seconds behind. Three Movistar riders in the first 5, ominously strong! Contador again lost time, and now sits 1’20 behind Froome, not great.
Let’s look ahead to tomorrow’s mountain top finish.
Following today’s stage that was back loaded with climbing (totalling 2,980m), the climbing tomorrow is a lot more evenly spread out throughout the day. However, there is still an awful lot of ascending to be done: 3,295m to be exact (according to the road book).
The first climb of the day should see the break escape, meaning it will more than likely be a strong one, made up of very good climbers. The course then rolls for the rest of the day, tackling another Cat-3 climb, before reaching the final test of the day.
The Cat-2 San Andrés de Teixido.
The finish is very reminiscent of that at the end of stage 6 at the Giro, which Tim Wellens won from a breakaway. It’s actually two separate climbs, but it creates a much clearer picture if both of them are combined. Again, I’ve created a strava profile (view it here).
The first section is 5.5km long at 6.4%, nothing too stressful for the main GC contenders. This then leads into a fairly short descent of around 1.5km before it kicks up again. The descent itself although short, is relatively technical and goes down narrow roads. We could see someone try to get a gap here.
The second half is more challenging, coming in at 4.1km in length, averaging 7.3% However, the climb is anything but steady. There are several changes of gradient with some sections topping 12% and even another 200m of shallow descending. It makes finding a rhythm quite difficult, something that is common here at the Vuelta!
What does this mean for tomorrow?
Aside from what I’ve said, I still don’t think the final climb is tough enough to make any real difference in the GC. There may be a 20 second spread between the top 10 but I can’t see anything more than that. None of the GC riders aside from Froome & Chaves have looked great so far, so I can’t see them using their teams to chase, leaving it all to Movistar.
With the time-gaps that have already opened up after today and Movistar’s eagerness not to work then its breakaway day again tomorrow. Of course, Movistar will more than likely chase if there is a rider up the road who can threaten the GC lead but there are plenty of quality riders who are far enough behind that a good, strong break can make it.
Like in previews gone by, I’ll highlight three riders who could potentially win tomorrow if they make the break!
A fan favourite, Madrazo was the first man on the move today, however, he was brought to heel pretty quickly. He’s clearly been tasked with trying to get into the break. Picking up a win earlier in the year, he’s had his best season so far. Moving away from Caja next season, he’ll want to go out with a bang during this race and reward his team/show his new employers what he can do. A very good climber on his day, the last climb is well within his capabilities if he makes the move. Being a former Movistar rider too, they might be kind and let the move stick, you never know. He would be a very popular winner!
The Belgian rider has had a fantastic year, climbing exceptionally well, claiming a 10th place at San Sebastian recently. He’s much better on short climbs compared to the longer stuff but the constant change of gradient tomorrow should suit him very well. With a return to Etixx sealed next year, like Madrazo, he’ll want to show his new employers what he can do. Furthermore, he’ll want to take advantage of the freedom that he has at IAM. He is one to watch if he makes the move!
Thomas de Gendt.
Stage winner at the Tour earlier in the summer, De Gendt is long thought of as a breakaway expert. Not racing since the Tour has seen him take a slow start to this race, but I prefer to think that he’s saving himself and targeting stages and tomorrow looks right up his street! If not tomorrow, he’ll be in the break later in the race.
Breakaway days are notoriously difficult to pick, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
Madrazo will be successful in his attempt to get away tomorrow, joining the break that sticks. He’ll solo away on the final climb, taking a magnificent win to the delight of Twitter!
Due to the nature of the stage, I’m not backing any of the riders EW.
0.2pt Madrazo @ 150/1 with PP *I’d take 66/1*
0.15pt De Gendt @ 125/1 with PP. *I’d take 33/1*
0.15pt Devenyns Not priced up anywhere.
Hope you all enjoyed the preview, do you think the break makes it tomorrow? Any feedback and discussion is greatly appreciated. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.