Cycling is a sport where 180 guys ride their bikes for 5 hours and in the end, Valverde wins.
After they messed it up a bit yesterday, Movistar were going to make sure that wasn’t the case today and they rode the final climb of the stage to perfection. We had a flurry out attacks early on but by the time the riders reached the short descent three-quarters up only Quintana, Valverde and Bernal remained. The former acted as one of the best super domestiques in the peloton, setting a strong tempo so that no one could make it back from behind. Bernal attacked around the Flamme Rouge but he only managed to succeed in dropping Quintana and the outcome was inevitable. The Colombians rounded out the podium with Nairo finishing 6 seconds behind the duo; meaning that Valverde holds the GC lead by 19 seconds.
That should be the race wrapped up for him barring any misfortune. Will we see a team try something crazy tomorrow? Let’s have a look at what is in store for them.
A day that is focussed around three climbs but none of which should cause any major difficulties for the GC riders.
Given the slightly downhill start and the high chance that a break will make it all the way tomorrow it might not be until the opening climb that a breakaway manages to escape.
If so, expect some strong climbers to make the moves on the steeper early slopes. Things to get easier after the first 5km and it becomes more of a power climb from there. Once over the summit, a long 20km descent follows before some valley roads and another climb.
Col de Perves is the sharpest climb of the stage in terms of gradient and with it topping out at 60km to go we might see the breakaway reduced in size at this point. However, it is probably just too far for anyone to try an attack and go on their own so everything will come down to the last climb of the day.
Averaging 4.5% for 12.2km it is a fairly easy climb in terms of gradient and it only hits 8% as a maximum. Like many of the ascents the peloton has faced in Catalunya this week, the steepest gradients come near the bottom so that is where the stronger climbers will need to make their move. If they leave it too late then a more powerful rider should be able to cope with the less than 4% gradients.
Over the top the riders will have just under 14km of descent until they reach the finish line. It isn’t overly technical to begin with but as we approach our finish town, hairpin binds become more of a regularity.
So who will we see come home at the head of the race? Given Movistar and Valverde’s domination today and his prowess on the downhills, I can’t really see any GC action tomorrow. Instead the breakaway will have the chance to make it all the way to the finish. Looks like we’re playing everyone’s favourite game again…
The Breakaway Tickets
Like normal on a stage like this I’ll suggest a few riders who given they actually make the break, might have a chance.
It was great to see him competing at a high level again during Strade after he’s had a series of setbacks that have hindered his first few years at pro level. One of the best climbers in his age group, he seems to be slowly realising his potential and he has done a lot of work for his team this week, drilling the pace on the climbs. Given that it’s unlikely Yates will try anything tomorrow, it would be nice to see Mitchelton allow Power some freedom.
Was on the attack earlier today but his move was ultimately brought back. He then turned his attention to help Jungels and Mas, but still managed to finish strongly. The young Ecuador rider has already had a fairly successful start to his time in the pro peloton with good results in a variety of races. Clearly a capable climber, he’ll hope to be one of the best up ahead.
Floris De Tier.
After a strong start to the year, De Tier will be disappointed to find himself so far back here. He had a good showing in Strade and finished an excellent 5th on the steep cobbled finish in Andalucia. That result in Strade shows that he is more than just a good climber and cope fairly well with a difficult day in the saddle. Why not tomorrow?!
Astana have been fairly disappointing at this race so far with no real meaningful result yet. I imagine they’ll be very keen and active to get in the break tomorrow and Chernetckii is far enough down to be given some freedom by the GC teams. He’s a very hot or cold rider but his performances in the likes of Lombardia highlight he can cope with a profile such as tomorrow’s. He packs a reasonable sprint from a breakaway group too so no one will want to bring him to the line.
Breakaway to stick and Rob to Power home…
0.25pt WIN on them all;
Narvaez @ 125/1
Chernetckii @ 200/1
Power @ 200/1
De Tier @ 300/1
Thanks as always for reading, who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see the break make it or will it turn into a surprising GC day? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.