What a stage, it was full gas from the start! Omar Fraile represented us very well out the front bringing that attacking gusto that I was looking forward to seeing. However, it was not to be for him, or any of the original break in fact. Instead, Simon Yates made a fantastically timed move to follow Dani Moreno on the final climb, going on to pass him before the summit and then finishing solo!
Let’s have a look at tomorrow’s stage.
Surprise surprise, another stage with a fair bit of climbing. Especially considering this is supposedly a sprinter-friendly day!
* No Strava profile today from me as I’m in more of a rush than usual. So climbs & %s made up from the road book*
The climbing tomorrow is spread out a lot more evenly throughout the stage, with the three Cat-3s almost equidistant from each other. Depending how the riders are approaching the stage, the break may not have gone until the first climb; Puerto de Allariz (6.3km at 4.7%). If it does go here, it will certainly be a strong one.
The second categorised climb is a longer affair, 11.2km at 4.4%. The road here-in rises and falls all the way to the start of the final official climb of the day. Alto de Padornelo averages 3.3% for it’s 7km. The sprinters will hope to make it over this.
A long descent comes next, followed by a flat run to the line.
The run in itself is fairly technical, with a few sweeping bends mixed in with sharp turns within the final few kilometres. Positioning and lead-outs will be key.
How will the stage pan out?
This another stage marked down as a sprint, but after today’s very hot and tough day there might be a few teams feeling the effects. There is more of a chance than normal that a break makes it.
Felline was angry after crossing the line today and is clearly going well at the moment. He’s one of the riders who will get his team to work and will want this stage to end in a sprint. Likewise, so will Etixx who will be hoping that Meersman can complete a hat-trick of victories. Others may well join in, such as Orica and Giant. The latter took the day easy after missing the break, targeting tomorrow’s stage.
Conversely, the classic tactic of sending a man up the road so you don’t have to work behind could well be used tomorrow by a few teams. If 3 out of the 4 sprint teams I’ve mentioned above have a rider up the road, the break makes it.
It’s very much 50/50 if that happens. If today wasn’t so tough and teams weren’t slightly weakened/tired, then tomorrow would be a definite sprint. Then again, tomorrow is the last chance the sprinters have for several stages so they will not want to miss another opportunity!
In-form Meersman looks like the rider to beat, he’s been very impressive so far this race. It’s good to see, because for a while he was a bit off the boil.
Felline going off of the last sprint seems to be the rider who will challenge him. He’s climbing very well and is very fired up! Cort Nielsen will hope to go better than his third on stage 2. I’m sure he’s capable of that! While Arndt and Giant will be looking to finally getting to compete in the sprint.
Other’s to look for include Prades, Reza, Sbaragli, Van der Sande, Restrepo and Drucker.
A proper sprinting outsider would be Romain Hardy. The Frenchman made it over the climbs today with the GC group and if the bunch gets whittled down tomorrow he may sneak onto the podium.
Breakaway riders? If we’re taking part in the Spanish lottery again, then look to strong all-rounders. Guys like Hansen, Terpstra and Haas all have the capabilities of winning from the break. Their team as said above then has the added bonus of not chasing.
Patrick Bevin is the chosen man for tomorrow. Going into this Vuelta I would have assumed that he would be Cannondale’s sprinter of choice, but he’s failed to break into the top 100 on a stage yet. Potentially ill at the start of the race, he may have been taking it easy until now? He has a good turn of speed from a reduced group and could well podium tomorrow if it comes down to a sprint. If not, he’ll have to try his luck in the break. In either situation, there is more than likely to be someone better than him, but the Vuelta is full of surprises!
As you all know by now, I do love to suggest that a break makes it and I’m very much on the fence for tomorrow’s stage. So I’m going to cop-out and give two predictions. If the break makes it, Nathan Haas wins. The Aussie did well in the break on stage 5 on a finish that didn’t particularly suit him. Tomorrow’s stage is more his cup of tea and he would expect to go well in a sprint from a breakaway group.
If we do get the (probably more likely) bunch sprint, then I think Giant and Nikias Arndt will turn it around. He didn’t seem to badly hurt in his crash the other day, and they’ve highlighted how they saved their legs today for a sprint tomorrow. They have the best lead-out train here and in tomorrow’s tricky finale that will be the crucial factor.
Going against my rule and backing both a sprinter and a breakaway.
Arndt 0.5pt EW 33/1 (Bet365)
Haas 0.2pt WIN 80/1 (PP)
Hansen 0.15pt WIN 80/1 (PP)
Terpstra 0.15pt WIN 150/1 (PP)
Thanks for reading! Do you think we get a sprint? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.