A bit of a quieter stage than what I expected, Astana decided to finally take up the pace making at around 50km to go. This was enough to thin the peloton down and catch the break, but we still had plenty of fast-men left to compete for the win.
In the end, Boudat just pipped a prematurely celebrating Modolo for the win. Although it has to be said, we’ve not yet seen the photo finish so I’m sure some might feel aggrieved! Ag2Rs Venturini finished in third.
With the sprinters having their chance to shine on today’s stage tomorrow will give the mountain goats an opportunity.
We’re only on the second day of racing but we’re treated to the Queen Stage of the race.
At only 141km in length, it is a fairly short day in the saddle for the riders but some of the climbs to pack a punch. The opening two-thirds of the stage will see the breakaway form and build up an advantage as although some of the climbs are reasonably long, they’re not steep enough for any crazy early attacks.
That might however change on the Puerto de Valdepeñas. At an average of 7.5% for 3.7km it is steep enough for a team to really up the pace and put some of the domestiques in opposition squads into difficulty. Cresting at 40km to go it is too far out for any serious move but I would expect to see a thinning of the bunch here.
The following 30km before we hit the final climb of Allanadas consist mainly of descent or climbing.
The climbs that split up the descent aren’t too tough, but 3.3km at 5.5% and 5km at 4.2% will certainly disrupt the rhythm in the peloton. They’ll continue through the town of La Guardia de Jaén before starting the brutally steep final climb, although to be fair, the road even climbs through the town itself.
5.5km at 9.6% is tough enough if it was a steady climb but the closing 3.3kms average close to 12%. This will be a sufferfest for most of the bunch!
If we get some tough racing earlier in the day then expect the time gaps to be massive come the end of the stage. The finish climb was last used in the 2015 edition of this race when Froome motored away from Contador and won by a resounding 29 seconds which was enough to lead the GC by 2 seconds. Behind riders lost a shed-load of time, with 10th place finisher Van den Broek coming home 1’38 down for example.
Only the best climbers and those who are in form will be able to compete here. The result of this stage will go a long way as to shape the GC so a lot of the contender here will be the same as I mentioned in my GC preview. So I’m not going to waste your time with a massive speel about the candidates; I’ll keep it short and sweet!
Landa – If he’s in good form this is his stage to lose. Great on steep ramps he’ll want to gain as much of an advantage before the TT. His form is the unknown though.
LL Sanchez – His form is definitely known and he is flying. Normally a finish like this would be too tough for him but he seems to be in the shape of his life. It will still be difficult for him to win it, but coming home within 20 seconds is a good result.
Fuglsang – If LLS isn’t going well then no doubt the Dane will be up there for Astana as a ready replacement. In surprisingly good early season form by his standards he’ll be aiming for a top 3 at least.
Poels – Terribly disappointing in Valenciana, with a race in his legs will he go any better? On paper this is a good stage but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Antunes – He’s shown in the past to be explosive enough but can he compete on terrain like this? He might be the type of rider to benefit from not being too well-known and having a good awful TT.
I’ll just stick with what I said in my GC preview; form is king at the moment so LLS to win.
Or we see #AFreeLanda ride away from everyone on the aptly named Allanda climb. Or He Who Must Not Be Named just takes the piss.
All of which are likely possibilities.
6pts on LLS to beat Hermans at 5/6
Thanks as always for reading! I’m looking forward to the end of the stage, should be a great spectacle. Who do you think will win? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.