A boring breakaway day they said…
Ahead Marczynksi took his second stage win, with Fraile and Rojas rounding out the podium behind.
However, the majority of the action and excitement came from the GC group. Contador attacked with Roche on the last climb of the day, but the Irishman couldn’t live with the sprightly Spaniard’s pace. He then linked up with Theuns who had been in the break earlier in the day, and the two forged on, working well together. Maybe they were getting some practise in for Duo Normand?
Sky seemed fairly content to set the pace on the front of the peloton, but Froome then had a mechanical and a fall. Although the first mechanical may have been caused by a fall, I’m not too sure! Poels and Nieve dropped back to help him, but it was a tough chase.
Astana, Katusha and Bahrain shared the pace at the front of the peloton, but they became a bit disorganised in the closing few kilometres and allowed the race leader to close somewhat.
With all that said and done at the end of the stage, Contador gained 22 seconds on the “peloton” which itself gained 20 on Froome.
Will we see anything crazy happen tomorrow?
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
By Vuelta standards we have a sprinters stage on the cards!
We do have some drags and falls in the opening 90km of the day but with over half the stage remaining the riders will be over the worst of it.
It is all about the finish tomorrow.
Of course, this is the Vuelta so we have approximately 9234323 roundabouts in the closing 5kms.
The road is particularly narrow in parts so being positioned near the front will be crucial.
The many roundabouts will help to string the bunch out but so will the elevation gain in the closing kilometres.
As per, I’ve made a profile of the end of the stage that you can view fully/interactively here.
According to VeloViewer/Strava, that opening rise we see is 1.14km at an average of 6.1% with the steepest gradient apparently touching 13%. Although if I’m honest, I do think that is a tad generous.
It does look fairly steep and on the narrow road it could cause some issues for the riders moving up, while also being a great launchpad for someone to go on the offensive.
That section of climbing then crests with 2.5km left of the day.
The final kilometre of the stage averages 2.6%, with the peloton tackling two roundabouts in that time!
Things could get messy but the uphill drag should make the speeds slower and safer. Hopefully.
We’ll see the peloton tackle the above roundabout at ~450m to go, before the final dash to the line.
That dash to the line averages 4% for 350m apparently so the “sprinters” that we have here might find it difficult and there could be a few surprises at the line.
How will the stage pan out?
Given the lack of sprinters here and the amount of moves that have made it to the line over the past week, there is a good chance we might not actually see a sprint at the end of the day.
Instead, the break might be left to fight out stage honours.
Although, with it not being a pure sprint. Then a few teams with punchier riders might fancy their chances at bringing the break back to let their guys off the leash in the closing kilometres.
I think it comes down to the attitude of two teams though; Quick Step and Lotto Jumbo.
The former have a couple of options for a finish like this with Trentin and Alaphilippe both good candidates. If they don’t get anyone in the morning move, then I would expect to see them pull in the hope to bring the break back.
Likewise, Jumbo have a great candidate for stage victory with JJ Lobato. The Spaniard is from a town 100km from the finish so he is fairly “local” in that sense. Tomorrow’s stage looks tailor-made for him and he certainly won’t want to pass up the opportunity.
If these teams don’t get riders in the move and begin to chase, then another couple of teams might chip in with the workload.
With tomorrow being the only chance for a “sprint” until Madrid, I think we’ll see the peloton come to the finish together. Teams will work for their faster guys in the hope that they repay the favour over the coming week.
There is of course the chance that a late attack sticks tomorrow, as things could get very hectic. Lampaert round 2?!
Loves an uphill finish and he should be able to cope with tomorrow no problem. He picked up a win in the Tour de l’Ain before the Vuelta and he followed that up with a second place to Trentin on Stage 4. Arguably one of the best riders in the world on his day on a ramp like this, if he’s in form then he could be tough to beat.
Speaking of in form, the Italian seems to be in great shape at the moment. His stage win from the breakaway was truly remarkable and he should be up there fighting for the honours again tomorrow.
Chicken-smuggling extraordinaire, the finish tomorrow is right on the Belgian’s limit I think. He is climbing better than ever but after a tough day up ahead today, he might be missing something in the finale tomorrow.
Struck down by the Haughey Curse on Stage 4, this steeper run to the line is much more up his street so to say. This is his best chance of a good stage result all race and I have a feeling that he has been saving himself for it. Could we see yet another Colombian make his mark at the Vuelta?
With Chaves the only remaining Orica rider anywhere close in contention for GC, will the team use up some resources to help their sprinter? A strong rider, like Theuns, the rise to the line could be on his limit. Nonetheless, if he is there, then he has a great chance given his speed!
Not the first name you would think of for a finish like this but the Italian can climb well when needed. Back in the Tour of Croatia he took a superb win on the closing stage on a tricky finish, somewhat similar to this. He has been a bit “meh” in form as of late but you can’t discount him.
A wildcard rider for a finish like this, the rise in gradient brings him into play. He was 8th on Stage 4 and he’ll be Sunweb’s go to rider here. Both of his pro wins have come on stages that are very similar to this one, with some steady climbing at the end of the day. Can he continue on Sunweb’s great season?
Even more of a wildcard, the Kazakh has an under-rated sprint and like Andersen, the rise to the line levels the playing field for him. Who knows what he’ll produce!
Do Sky give one of their strongest rider some freedom to chase stage glory? No one has been given any leeway so far but tomorrow looks like an opportunity where they can do something for little effort. Climbing with some of the best in the race, if Moscon lays down the Watts, not many will be able to follow!
Another tough day where there is a chance we could see a break make it all the way.
Safe Pick – GC rider – Meintjes.
Should finish close to the front of the bunch to avoid any splits.
Wongshot Pick – Sprinter – Andersen
I really rate his chances for tomorrow! Take your pick though…
Lanterne Rouge Pick – De Vreese
Crashed today and rolled home near the back. Will probably come home safely tomorrow as well.
The sprinters to be surprised by the difficulty of the finish and a punchier rider to prevail. Soren Kragh Andersen to take the win!
Definitely some value out there by not going for the proper “sprinters” so I’m going to up the ante pts wise today…
Andersen 1pt EW @ 66/1
Molano 1pt EW @ 66/1
Moscon 0.5pt EW @ 250/1
Watch it be a break now…
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow and how? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.