Stage 10 finally saw a GC win, and it was Quintana who took the spoils on the day. He rode the final climb excellently. It was a very dominant performance and he looks back to his best!
Froome did exactly what he did in ’14 and rode his own pace, slowly picking off the guys who tried to follow Quintana. It was damage limitation for the Brit who ended up losing 25 seconds to the Colombian. Consequently, it leaves the top 10 looking like this going into today’s rest-day.
Other impressive displays were from Gesink and Fraile, who managed to stick with the GC guys, finishing 2nd and 4th respectively. It will give them confidence for breakaway days to come!
Moving on to tomorrow’s stage.
Another typical stage of this Vuelta with not that much to talk about. A fairly flat start, followed by a mountain top finish.
Like a few of the stages gone by, this is all about the final climb, and it’s another tough one!
The road book is good enough again, but there is a Strava segment you can view here if you wish.
As you can see in the image above, it’s awfully steep with a 9.8% average gradient. However, this again doesn’t highlight the severity of the climbing sections as there is a 500m period of flat/shallow descent just over half way up the mountain. Taking away this section, the average gradient would be 10.8%. It’ll be a real grind, even for the best climbers in the peloton!
That’s all there is to mention about the stage, so that leaves us with the question…
How will the stage pan out?
Nobody is ever confident of how they will react after a rest-day. Some riders come out of the gates flying whereas others seem to struggle. With no climbs of note before tomorrow’s final challenge, the riders don’t really have a chance to test their legs during the stage. Some might not go as well as they hoped!
Anyway, we’re left with the classic question of: break or no break?
With Movistar commanding a dominant 1-2 on GC and with a stage win already, there is an incredibly high chance that they won’t chase very hard tomorrow. Instead, they’ll focus on saving their riders legs for the final climb and stages to come. The only other rider who looks set to challenge Quintana is Froome. He’s looked good, but not great. I’m not so sure how confident Sky will be of him beating Quintana and they very unlikely to waste resources to chase the break all day.
So once again, it looks as if we’ll get a breakaway win again. It will be another frantic start to the day as everyone tries to make the move. I wouldn’t be surprised if the break doesn’t go until 40km again!
In a slight change to normal, I’m going to name 4 riders this time round!
The veteran Frenchman has had a pretty abysmal final year on the road after crashing out of the Giro. However, he slowly seems to be finding his feet here at the Vuelta, finishing 12th on yesterday’s very tough stage. Far enough behind on GC at just over 6 minutes he should be given freedom by Movistar. A danger-man if he gets into the move.
The diminutive FDJ rider had been riding well during this race, but didn’t seem to have the legs on stage 12. In an interview (view here) he says that he was caught behind crashes at the start of the stage and that cost him energy, so didn’t feel as strong at the end of the stage. Although disappointed, his focus now switches to stage hunting. He’s a pure climber, and tomorrow’s finale looks great for him. If he’s recovered from his off day then he could well take the stage.
Stage winner and 3rd on GC at last year’s Tour de l’Avenir, Mamykin has had a solid start to his first ever Grand Tour but hasn’t featured at the business end of any stages yet. He’s made a few interesting although fruitless attacks off the front of the peloton. A rider that a lot of the peloton won’t be familiar with, it would be unwise to give him a lot of time on the climb!
The third Frenchman and second AG2R rider on the list, he came into the Vuelta with a lot of hope and an outside chance of a top 10. However, he’s now slipped down to 24th on GC and over 7 minutes behind Quintana. Coming into this race off of the back of a 3rd place at the Tour de l’Ain, he was clearly in good form. I doubt that he’ll be targeting a good GC placing anymore and will switch focus to stage hunting, like the others listed above. Tomorrow could well be that day.
GC Battle Behind
This stage is tough enough to create some GC gaps. Quintana doesn’t seem confident of holding off Froome later on in the race because of the long time trial. Instead, he suggests that he’ll need 3 minutes to be safe. Now, I think that required margin is a bit on the large side, but Quintana certainly won’t be riding defensively tomorrow. Froome normally goes well on the following stage after a rest-day, so the Colombian won’t have it all his way. I expect those two to be able to distance the rest of the field, I’m just not sure if they’ll distance each other!
The break wins as no-one will chase hard behind and again we’ll get a race on two fronts.
I’ll go with Elissonde for the stage win. He won atop the famously steep Angliru back in 2013 and this climb suits his characteristics very well!
0.4pt WIN Elissonde @50/1 Betfair or WH (I’d take 40s)
0.2pt WIN Peraud @ 150/1 widely available (I’d take 100s)
0.2pt WIN Mamykin @ 150/1 with PP (I’d take the 66s with others if you have to)
0.2pt WIN Latour @125/1 with PP (I’d take 100s)
Changing my approach slightly and moving shift more to H2H.
De La Cruz to beat Atapuma at 6/4 with PP. Betfair offering it at 5/4, B365 & WH go 6/5. I’d say it’s value down to evens.
DLC has beaten Atapuma 3:0 on the stages where they’ve both approached the final climb in the peloton. Atapuma is further down on GC (5mins back) and could possibly go in the break (which would be typical), but at 6/4 I’m willing to take the risk considering the price should be the other way round on a normal day.
*Annoyingly, it was 7/4 but I placed my own bet and Betfair cut their price to 5/4. Spoilsports 😦 *
Hope you all enjoyed the preview and thanks for reading! Do you think it will be another break day and if so, who’s your favourite? It will be another day of waiting for the break to form, seeing if your rider is in it, then waiting for the action to unfold on the final climb! As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.