A wet miserable day for the peloton or a typical Scottish summer day, take it as you will! It was another stage that it took the breakaway a while to establish, but we eventually had a group of 14 go clear.
In the end though the break never really had much of a chance as Orica started driving the pace early, reducing the gap to under a minute on the penultimate climb.
However, with no one else willing to take up the chase then things looked to swing back into the break’s hands. That was until Nibali called for action on the last climb of the day and soon the attackers were brought to heel.
A few probing attacks were made off the front of the race but it was Nibali who launched the first serious move in the closing 2kms. For a while it looked as if he had a good gap but Lopez countered strongly and bridged, with Froome in tow. The Colombian continued on, and with Nibali and Froome competing in a stare down, he held on to take his first Grand Tour win!
Froome out-sprinted Nibali for second, with Kelderman finishing alongside the other two in 4th. There were some big time gaps behind today though and the GC was well and truly shaken up.
Will we something similar tomorrow?
Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders.
We once again have a stage that has Valverde in mind!
I do wonder how many of the previous break days would have been successful if the Spaniard was racing here.
Tomorrow’s stage starts with a lot of rolling road from the opening kilometre until we reach Nerja. Are 37km enough for the break to form? It hasn’t been the past few days!
From there, the route is almost pan flat as it travels further along the coast. However, as soon as we turn in-land, the riders will be greeted with the Cat-1 climb of Puerto del Léon.
At 20.4km and averaging 4.6% it is a long climb but nothing of great danger for the GC guys. Furthermore, at almost 60km from the finish, it is too far out for any action.
The next climb might not be…
Puerto del Torcal is rather unkindly given Cat-2 status, as it is 7.6km long and averages 7% according to the road book!
It is more 8.6km at 6.3%, but that does include some false flat at the end of the climb. However, that low gradient is fairly deceptive, as the opening 4.5km averages a very testing 8.9%! This is where the better climbers will hope to make their mark before it flattens out near the top.
The riders will then descend before a fairly flat final 5kms.
With that being said, the road does rise ever so slightly to the finish line; averaging roughly 3% for the final kilometre. Although the majority of that comes in the space of 600m.
Will we see a small group battle it out for the stage in a sprint?
How will the stage pan out?
With the weather in the Malaga area forecast to be a lot better than what the peloton has had over the past few days, I’m sure lots of riders will be hoping for a quieter day in the saddle.
There is of course a chance that some of the GC teams, possibly Bahrain and Sunweb, want to chase the break in the hope to set up their main riders. However, that will require a lot of work and with the downhill/flat finish their efforts will probably go unrewarded.
We’ll more than likely see the GC guys roll in together, with maybe only one or two guys dropped if they’re really suffering. Instead, they’ll save their energy for other days.
Consequently, this looks like an ideal day to get into the break.
With the tough rolling conditions at the start of the stage, it will take a strong rider to make the morning move. That’s if it goes in the first 30km or so, who knows how long it will take considering how this Vuelta is going!
Astana are flying just now and I’m sure they’ll try to get someone in the move tomorrow. After his stage win on the 5th stage, the Kazakh has taken it relatively easy recently. Is he saving himself for another assault? Tomorrow’s stage looks great for him but the tough opening 5km of the last climb could be his downfall if we have some mountain goats up the road. Will he risk it all and go early? He’s certainly confident enough at the moment to do just that.
It seems clear that Movistar are chasing the team prize this race so if a break goes tomorrow then they will certainly have a couple of riders up the road. The Portuguese rider was strong at the start of the race but has lost some time since then. This type of terrain looks good for him tomorrow and if he can hang on to the best climbers on the steeper slopes of the climb then he has a good chance at attacking and time trialing his way to victory.
Surely Orica’s second strongest rider has to be let of the leash tomorrow. He was excellent in helping pace Chaves today and sitting 17 minutes down now, he is no threat to the overall. A strong rider on the climbs but also on the flat, he will be one of the most well-rounded riders up the road. Can he take advantage of his good legs?
I think I could be backing him a lot this Vuelta but tomorrow’s stage looks good for the big Swede. Strong on the flat and strong on the climbs, he’s similar to a rider like Oilveira. If he is climbing as well as he was on the day of his failed break, but his successful whip, then he certainly has a chance!
This is definitely becoming rinse and repeat…
Safe Pick – Oomen
Chose a GC rider and hope they finish in a reduced peloton behind the break. If you can, try to pick someone who isn’t a massive GC threat so that you save the “big guns” for other stages.
Wongshot Pick – Oliveira
Breakaway Lottery day
Lanterne Rouge Pick – Wallays
Seems to still be struggling from this injuries.
Break to make it all the way and Movistar to get their stage win through Oliveira.
0.5pt WIN on them all;
Lutsenko @ 28/1
Haig @ 33/1
Oliveira @ 150/1
Ludvigsson @ 200/1
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.