A big break went as I expected and with both Bora and Quick Step represented, it showed that Sagan and Viviani weren’t overly keen with another hard day on a finish they might not have made. I did question the possible success of the break early on though as Jesus Herrada made the split and he was only 5’45 down on GC before the start of the day. However, it seems Mitchelton have learnt from their Giro mistakes and they were more than happy to let the Cofidis rider take the jersey at the end of the day: an opportunity he gladly took. He wasn’t competing for the stage win though, as the large break splintered into two groups in the final 20km.
Instead it was a group of 8 out ahead who fought for the win. Attacks flew but no one was able to escape and after some riders were dropped it came down to a 5 rider sprint to the line. Geniez took a bit of a risk and went early at 300m out but given the narrow road and slight downhill, it turned out to be a perfect point to launch the sprint. Van Baarle came close but he ran out of road both in front of him and at the side as the barriers closed off any chance he had of getting round the Ag2R rider. Youngster Padun trailed home in third, not a bad result for his first Grand Tour.
Kind of an annoying day for the blog as Campenaerts was in that group but finished fifth. However, I am very pleased of how accurate my “How will the race pan out?” predictions have been this whole race, even if the right riders aren’t represented. Watch me get it massively wrong for tomorrow now…
Only a shade more climbing than today but the profile looks completely different as we have a tough mountain top finish.
The stage is pretty easy in some sense due to the lack of actual hills, the road drags than anything else for the opening 90km, albeit, there is a 3rd-Cat climb early on in the day. Just through the feed zone the peloton will tackle the Cat-1 climb of Puerto de Tama (11.7km at 6.1%). Given it’s position in the day and what comes after it, I expect it to be taken at a very casual pace indeed.
Following on from the summit, almost 60km of flat-ish roads await the riders and the cheekily placed intermediate sprint before the road starts climbing for the mountain finish of La Camperona.
A 7.7km climb at 7.6% sounds fairly tough on its own but La Camperona is all about its ridiculously steep gradients within the closing 2kms. It isn’t also nicknamed the Wall of Camperona for nothing!
A final 2.6km at 14.4% is just brutal. You don’t want to be giddy and go too early as if you fade late on then you can crack massively and lose a lot of time. Back in 2016 Quintana attacked at only 1km to go but still managed to gain 25 seconds on Contador and 33 seconds on Froome respectively. Will we see something similar from him tomorrow?
How will the stage pan out?
A day that is easy to control for the GC teams given the large amount of flat roads that break up the two main climbs. However, will anyone want to control it? Mitchelton showed today they were content enough to let the jersey go so I can’t imagine they will chip in now. None of the other GC teams have really turned a pedal in anger at the head of the bunch to chase anything down; they’ve only put the pressure on at the end of stages, i.e. EF Education First yesterday.
So the buck will lie with our race leader and his Cofidis team, and Movistar. The former don’t really have the horsepower to control things fully in my opinion but they would be a more than helpful ally to Movistar. The men in blue have taken control of most days even though they are not in the race lead – clearly confident of Quintana for the race. Yet, with two even harder stages this weekend, I think they might be happy to let Cofidis to the brunt of the work so that they can rest up.
Therefore, another day and another chance to play our favourite game…
It’s a really weird stage to choose possible breakaway riders as the flatter opening 90kms are not ideal for the mountain goats to make the split. We could see a scenario very similar to what we had back in 2014, a day when the only climb was La Camperona, on which a break made up mainly of rouleurs fought out for the win. Of course, if one or two climbers to make the split then don’t expect everyone just to ride to the bottom of the climb with them.
Hmmmm. These guys will be outsiders but why not!
I was very impressed with the Astana man on Stage 9 during the La Covatilla summit finish as he pushed the pace on for his leader Lopez. Despite having the Colombian fighting for the GC lead, Astana have been active in the break so far this race but they missed out today. Tomorrow they possibly might send someone up the road to work for Lopez later on but if the gap is too big then they could go for the stage themself. Hirt is a rider who likes the steep gradients so he will be a big fan of tomorrow’s finish climb. Can he rekindle that Giro 2017 form?
Now leading the Team Classification, Bahrain will be keen to get someone in the breakaway tomorrow. Nibali and Padun will be tired after their efforts today so that really leaves Gorka, Pernsteiner and the aforementioned Pellizotti. I was impressed with the veteran’s finish to the stage De Marchi won and if he had made the right move before he could have had a chance. He often turns up for one or two good stages in a Grand Tour where he is climbing with the best – is that tomorrow?
It was the turn of the younger Eritrean climber in the Dimension Data team, albeit by only a few months, so I think we might see Kudus on the attack tomorrow. The steep ramps should suit his dimunitive figure. Does anyone else remember how strong he was back in 2017 on the steep slopes of Llucena in Valenciana? He will be a real threat if he makes the break but making the break will be his biggest challenge.
Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Sky have shown a different side to their armada over the past few days where they have actually had a rider up the road in the breakaway. Shocking, I know. Geoghegan Hart made one of the earlier splits that was unsuccessful the other day so he has clearly been given some freedom to chase a result now and again. One of the best performers at the Dauphiné earlier in the year, if he has the same legs tomorrow then he is one to watch.
Dimension Data to continue their incredible Vuelta with Kudus winning the stage from a rather weird breakaway!
0.5pt WIN on each of the breakers;
Hirt @ 300/1
Pellizotti @ 150/1
Kudus @ 100/1
TGH @ 150/1
Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.