We did get a fairytale ending after all, with Contador winning the stage atop the mythical Angrilu.
It was a classic performance from the Trek rider as he put on an aggressive climbing masterclass. He certainly will be missed as a rider, especially as his type seems to be disappearing over the past few years.
Sky put on a dominant display behind, with Poels and Froome finishing on the day’s podium. The result means that barring anything incredibly bizarre happens tomorrow, the Brit has won his first Vuelta title.
It makes him the first rider to win the modern Tour-Vuelta double, and the first since Pantani to complete a double. Quite remarkable!
I bet Froome’s parties aren’t as good though…
With the GC battle over, it is time for the sprinters to have their time in the spotlight tomorrow.
Featuring a zzzz circuit.
I could go on and pretend that there is more to this stage than meets the eye but in the words of Skepta; “that’s not me”.
We could see a late attack stick if some of the sprint teams mess around with the chase duties. Modolo and Lampre (UAE) are here so a Giro cock-up could always be on the cards.
But no, it will be a processional stage followed by a sprint. Simples.
The best sprinter here so far, he also has the added incentive of trying to win the Green jersey too. However, tomorrow’s easy run in looks the least suited to the Quick Step rider who would prefer a trickier finish. Nonetheless, the form is clearly there so he most likely has to start as favourite.
Sprinter turned key hilly domestique for Contador over the past few weeks, the Belgian has performed his duties ably. Will the favour be returned tomorrow? Most likely! He is fast and with De Kort to guide him into position, he’ll be a threat.
Has been a bit meh recently but can’t be discounted in this field. He does seem to go well at the end of a GT.
The final sprint stage and the first day that the Dane will get a chance to go for the win. He took this day last year so I guess he has some course form. He made the break on a few of the more rolling days so his power output must be fairly solid. A dark horse?
Could Aqua Blue get two wins this Vuelta? Blythe isn’t the fastest sprinter in the world, but in this field and at the end of a Grand Tour then we do often get surprise results.
VanAsbroeck and Lobato will be in or around the top 10 too.
A dangerous day for those near the top of the table but thankfully Degenkolb isn’t here to ruin anyone’s chances on the last stage.
SafePick – Trentin.
Pretty self-explanatory; has some form and will be near the head of the results.
Wongshot Pick – Cort
Not tested in the sprints at all this race but he does have the speed to contend.
Lanterne Rouge Pick –DeClerq
Should be doing some work early in the day.
Cort to repeat last year’s success!
Apologies for the really short preview but the Vuelta has worn me down and my enthusiasm for stages like tomorrow is limited enough anyway! Thanks to all of you for reading every day and interacting on Twitter etc. Helps me to keep going through several break days in a row. The season is nearly over but I’ll be back previwing the World’s in no time!
If you’ve enjoyed the previews and want to thank me (cheeky of me, I know) then a beer would be more than appreciated – Buy Me A Beer. But hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
If you don’t like the Vuelta, we can’t be friends!
Quick Step decided they wanted to honour the jersey and try to keep it in the team so they controlled the break for the first 2/3rds of the day, never letting the gap grow much bigger than 5 minutes. Which in some ways was good, as neither of the lottery tickets made the move! So I decided to tweet out some thoughts and back Chaves in-play…
Once onto the penultimate climb Sky took over the pace making duties and just about caught the break at the summit. Although we did see some weird UAE tactics with Costa and Atapuma dangling 10 seconds ahead of the peloton for the last few kilometres of the climb. The break was absorbed on the descent with Atapuma now doing the chasing before all hell lot loose on the last climb.
Rosa sprinted into it before peeling off almost instantly. However, some of the GC guys were already distanced due to the difference in speed at the middle of the peloton compared to the front. Some clawed their way back to the Sky train but others didn’t.
Froome launched a vicious attack that only Chaves could follow and the two built up a 10-second or so advantage. Bardet eventually sent off in pursuit, with Aru quickly following. The Froome/Chaves duo crested the climb with roughly a 5 second gap over Bardet/Aru and a further 15 over a group of chasers.
Bardet and Aru caught up with the lead pair on the descent and the pace dropped ever so slightly; allowing the chasers to return at roughly 1km to go.
Roche put in a half-hearted dig but was closed by Chaves. However, Nibali then made a more serious effort with roughly 300m left and no one seemed bothered about chasing him initially and that was it. The Shark had his stage win!
What a finish line photo as well!
DelaCruz sprinted to second, with Froome in third. The bonus seconds on the line see the Brit into the leader’s jersey with a trio of riders only 2 seconds behind him.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the peloton tomorrow.
A much easier day in the saddle, I’m sure they’ll be glad to know!
There’s not really much of note apart from a Cat-3 climb to break up the very slow descent to the finish line.
Well, it doesn’t descend all the way to the finish line…
The road does rise in the closing kilometres and it is quite a tricky finale that could catch a few out.
Having to traverse 6 roundabouts in just under 3.5km will certainly make things messy! The “climb” that you see above is more of a drag, but it averages 1.7%% for a 1.2kms, flattening out at the Flamme Rouge.
At 900m to go the riders will take the long way around this roundabout, exiting it on the left hand side.
Almost as soon as they leave the roundabout they’ll have to make another time. This time it will be a 90-degree turn, that is made even sharper by the fact the riders are funnelled left once exiting the roundabout.
The road then snakes for the following 200m before it takes “snaking” to the extreme at just under 500m to go.
Possibly having to knock off their speed, if the bunch is not stretched out by now, it certainly will be after.
We then have a ridiculously narrow roundabout at 250m to go.
Which is then duly followed up by an equally narrow exit.
Let’s just hope the local council have done some road works or at least completed paving the finish since the google maps image was taken in 2015!
How will the stage pan out?
It should be a sprint, but given the lack of top-tier sprinters here a few of the teams might decide to have an early rest day and not pull.
I would not be surprised to see a “shock” break stay all the way to the line.
However, the one thing that is massively against the break is the constant 15km/h headwind that they’ll be cycling into all day. That definitely swings things in favour of the sprinters and because of that I’m sure we’ll see a few of the teams come to an agreement to keep the break in check.
We could be in for a long watch though!
Picking a sprinter for this Vuelta seems to be a minefield. We don’t really have much to go off of from stage 2, given how the race was split apart in all of 2kms. The slight uphill drag before the line also makes it more interesting but all of the sprinters here should manage it easily so it doesn’t affect things too much.
With all that said, I’ll be keeping this relatively short and sweet.
Theuns – Made a massive effort to close the gap on Stage 2 and still managed to get up for 4th. He’s clearly in great form and with Contador struggling today, he might get a few more resources at his disposal tomorrow. That is of course unless his team-mate sprints.
Degenkolb – Admitted he was struggling on the first few days but he might have rode into some form after three stages? I still think it is too early for him but this finish does look ideal for the Degenkolb of 2015.
Trentin – Another rider who is in great form at the moment and with the best lead-out he should be up there. QS seem a team full of confidence and that could just make the difference.
Molano – The Colombian is a rider that I’ve been looking to forward to watching this Vuelta. He’s a very talented sprinter who excels on tough finishes, winning two stages in Portugal earlier this year. This is a big step up for him but the fact he was close to the front on Stage 2 is promising.
Modolo – Looks to be on good form as he was another rider who made the front split on S2. Arguably the fastest sprinter based on his wins in the past, he has a good chance tomorrow if he’s in the right position. He’ll certainly take the risks to get there.
Blythe – Not a bad start to Aqua Blue’s first ever Grand Tour with the Brit delivering a podium result on the opening stage. Can he go better? Possibly!
Cort – Might get dragged into helping his GT leaders again. So could be nowhere again.
Schwarzmann – Good lead out rider, but I don’t rate him too highly as an actual sprinter.
Van Asbroeck – Solid rider who top 10’d on stage 2 and he’ll be there or thereabouts again.
Lobato – Finish looks good for him but his positioning often lets him down. Could be great, could be awful!
A chaotic finish that could lead to a surprise result and possibly a few nasty crashes. Consequently it might be a lottery in regards as to where everyone is positioned on the lead in to the final turn.
However, I’ve been looking forward to this stage for a while as the day that Molano really makes his mark on the pro peloton!
A tricky day…
Safe Pick – Trentin
Wongshot – LL Sanchez (late attack in the chaotic run in)
Lanterne Rouge – Belkov (he’s been consistently near the back every day!)
1pt EW on Molano @ 33/1 with B365
Thanks as always for reading, hope you enjoyed the detailed finale by pictures! Who do you think will win the chaotic sprint? Anyway,
BMC win yet another TTT, being the only team to best the 16 minute mark.
Dennis was the first man across the line so he is the first rider in the leader’s jersey of the race.
With a sprint finish likely tomorrow, there is a good chance he will hold onto it for a few days.
Let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders.
A flat jaunt along the Mediterranean coastline, with a little change of direction inland before turning back towards the sea for the finish in Gruissan.
In terms of altimetry, there is nothing much to talk about at all. The highest peak of the day is just over 40m above sea level…
It could be a fairly benign day, but the finish could cause a surprise or two.
They will tackle a roundabout at 2.5km to go, taking the sharp left.
Said sweeping roundabout. The riders will have to knock a little bit of speed through it and it will certainly stretch out the peloton.
Will a team then have enough firepower to keep the pace high over the next 2 kilometres? If not, there could be a lot of jostling for position with things getting scrappy.
Especially when the road narrows at ~1km to go as the riders head off the main road and towards the town.
The slip-road only lasts for 150m or so but it will certainly be a point some of the teams will be racing for. It is much more realistic for a team to control it from there to the finish with a few riders.
It wouldn’t be the Vuelta without some type of “challenge” in the final kilometre. Tomorrow’s is a roundabout with roughly 350m to go. It’s not too tight, but the riders won’t be able to smooth out the corner completely.
Having one man peeling off just out of the roundabout and leaving the “pilot fish” with the sprinter is the ideal tactic here. Can anyone pull it off?
We spend a lot of the day travelling parallel to the coast line so of course I have to mention the prospect of crosswinds.
Although oddly enough, the wind isn’t coming from the sea. Instead, it comes from in-land and pushing towards the coast.
That makes it less likely for echelons early on in the day but not improbable. There are some exposed sections as we head in land though, such as this part of the D-37 as we head towards Sérignan.
At around 80km to go, is it too early for a team to try to split it?
They will turn more into a cross-head-wind afterwards so a lot of the riders might not fancy it. But the wind direction is pretty organic, much like the teams attitudes towards crosswinds. If they sense a chance to push it, I’m sure some will try!
If we do see splits then those dropped will hope that the wind direction becomes more of a headwind to deter the teams pushing on. It will be a race to the 30km to go banner in that case as once the riders turn to home, they’ll have a stonkingly big tailwind for the remainder of the day. Anyone gapped will find it difficult to get back.
So do I think we’ll see echelons? I’m hopeful, but not overly confident.
We don’t exactly have a long list of guys here and a the majority of them don’t have much help. Things could be messy…
On paper he is the most experienced/best sprinter here but he hasn’t raced since the Tour. Rolling home today makes me think that he still might be finding his legs and tomorrow’s long stage could be a struggle for him this early on. Of course, he could have been conserving energy after giving his all in the first part of the TTT but the signs aren’t good.
If Degenkolb isn’t sprinting then Theuns will be Trek’s main man. Full of confidence after his first World Tour win at the BinckBank Tour, he looked lightning quick then. He is off to a new team so there could be some tension within his current squad but as professionals I wouldn’t expect that to play too big a part. With a lot of helpers for Contador, whoever sprints for Trek will most likely only be able to rely on De Koert and possibly Pantano. A late charge to the front à la Lampre of old?!
A double stage winner last year, he certainly enjoyed his first Grand Tour. Fast after a tough, long day, tomorrow’s stage looks good for him and I’m sure he’ll be hoping for crosswinds to reduce the bunch. Although maybe he won’t, as he is supposedly on team help duty before getting his own opportunity if the Orica GC riders are safe within the last 10km. It will be interesting to see how it plays out for him with no lead-out.
Modolo – Won a sprint in Poland but DNF’d that race. He is a really hit or miss rider so who knows how he’ll go tomorrow!
Trentin – He’ll more than likely be QS rider of choice for tomorrow. If they dedicate a lead-out to him then they have a fairly strong team with several strong rouleurs to push things on for him. Looking strong lately, I think he has a good chance of a result.
Blythe – The Brit will be hoping for echelons tomorrow to reduce his opposition. A good classics rider, he should make the first split if he’s being attentive and will fancy his chances in a reduced bunch. He could struggle in a big bunch gallop though, but with it being messy he could seize the opportunity.
Lobato – Seems to be finding form again but this pure flat sprint isn’t great for him. Almost guaranteed to be dropped if the wind picks up.
Van Genechten – Just a bit of a “meh” sprinter and typifies this field we have here. Will struggle to repeat his win from last season.
Debuscherre – Will be praying for echelons as he seems to have lost his way as a big bunch sprinter this year. That lack of confidence won’t help in the slightly sketchy finish.
Schwarzmann – Arguably has one of the strongest sprint lead-outs here in terms of pure power. Often a lead-out man himself, will he grasp his opportunity to shine?
Safe Pick – Cort.
It’s tough to choose a “safe” pick for this stage as anything could happen out on the road with possible echelons and a messy sprint. Not knowing which of the Trek riders will be sprinting, it is wise to avoid them, although I would lean towards Theuns. Cort should be sprinting and as one of the fastest here he should guarantee a top 5.
Wongshot Pick – Theuns.
On form he is arguably the fastest rider here, it just depends if he sprints or not. Hence why he is the wongshot.
Lanterne Rouge Pick – Zurlo.
Fell today so he might be tasked with doing some work early on for Modolo and roll home at the end of the day.
Trek to take advantage of Theuns is great form just now, letting him sprint, with the Belgian duly delivering!
1pt EW Theuns @ 22/1 with Bet365 (would take 14/1 lowest – others might actually price up higher later on)
Also for a bit of fun I’ve doubled that up Sam Bennett for the Cyclassics at 528/1…
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Anyway,
Like I thought might be the case, I don’t have enough time for a full GC write-up so here are some quick thoughts…
More than likely the GC will come down to the very tough final day. However, there is a small chance tomorrow’s stage will have an effect if it’s anything like stage 1 from the first edition of the race.
Nonetheless, it should be a classics type rider who does well on the final day. With the potentially windy conditions over the moors, it won’t only be the climbs that can cause splits in the bunch, but there is a good chance we’ll see some echelons too.
Having a strong team will be important and Dimension Data look to have arguably the best here. They have several handy climbers who should be there or thereabouts at the end, it just depends on who will be their leader, local rider ScottThwaites maybe?
Team Sky have strong riders in Rowe and Stannard, but I would imagine that GeogheganHart is their best option due to the amount of climbing in the finale. The two aforementioned riders will be there to position him well and it will be over to the young Brit to deliver.
The defending champion and always gurning Voekcler is here again and he is sure to animate the race but I can’t see him winning the overall this time round.
UK Continental riders such as Thomas Stewart and Ian Bibby are two other names to keep an eye on over the coming days with a top 10 a very good possibility for them both.
There are a few other riders I have in mind, but I shall keep my cards close to my chest so to speak and save them for the Stage 3 preview. 😜
As for now, I’ll go with a Geoghegan Hart win, but that is subject to change!
Right, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders on the opening day of racing.
An interesting day out in the saddle, with the now traditional finish into Scarborough.
I say interesting, because it is similar to the first stage we had in 2015 where the peloton was torn to bits by the climbs. This year’s run in is easier but is still fairly demanding.
I was hoping for something similar to that first edition but according to some Yorkshire natives (@gizza_tips and @BearTowell) it’s unlikely that we’ll see that!
Out of intrigue though, I have still made a Strava profile of the last 75km that you can view here.
The peloton has a lot of rolling climbs to contend with such as my new favourite Strava segment, “To the ice cream van!” which is the 12km, 2% average climb out of Pickering.
We then of course get the 1.3km, 9.7% climb of Goathland. Well, it’s actually ever so slightly longer than the official profile suggests and is actually 2.1km long at 6.8%.
Once over the summit, there is a very fast descent into Sleights, before the peloton start climbing again after they are through Whitby.
Another gradual rise for the peloton to get over, 7.1km at 2.3%, which they then quickly descend off before the sharp kick up of Robin Hood’s Bay.
1.5km in length and averaging close to 10.5% (although the Strava segment is closer to 11%), riders certainly can get dropped on the climb and lose a fair bit of time. If the best climbers in the peloton attack it then they should manage the ascent in roughly 5 minutes.
We won’t see any echelon action on the moors on Friday though unfortunately as the wind is mostly a tailwind on the run in to Scarborough.
Will that help those dropped get back in to the bunch, or will it help a stronger peloton stay away over the closing 25kms? It will be frantic either way!
Once into Scarborough, the riders will have to negotiate a fairly technical final 5km, although from 2km to home it is easy.
One thing the riders will have to consider is that the tailwind they had coming into Scarborough will now be a headwind for the final few hundred metres. You won’t want to open up your sprint too early!
How will the stage pan out?
It really depends on who and who doesn’t make it over Robin Hoods Bay in contact with the bunch and how aggressively the peloton attacks the climb itself. Considering the up and down nature of the race before it, the bunch could already be tired if the pace has been on for a while.
We could see some of the GC favourites and strong teams light it up, putting the sprinters in difficulty. Yet, as it has been pointed out to me, it’s the first day of the race and you would expect them to have fresh enough legs to cope with a 5 minute effort.
I think I live in hope more than anything else!
The most likely scenario is that we see a reduced sprint in Scarborough, of maybe 30-40 riders.
Which sprinters make it to the line; that’s the proverbial million dollar question.
Bouhanni was climbing well in Catalunya and has maintained some solid form since then, with a third in Scheldeprijs and a win in Paris-Camembert. He’s not raced for a fortnight though so he’s a bit of an enigma in that sense. If he makes it over, then he’ll be the fastest rider there.
Or is he? I’m sure fans of Ewan and Groenewegen would disagree!
The Aussie pocket rocket was flying at the start of the season but he’s not raced since his 101st in Gent Wevelgem. It’s hard to know where is form is because of that but in theory his diminutive stature should help him get over the climbs. If he’s close to where he was in January then he’ll be a threat. If not, team-mate Magnus Cort will be their sprinter.
Still without a win this season, the Dutchman will be hoping to turn that around here. Very fast on his day, he’ll be able to rely on a strong team to help lead him out. That is if they make it in the peloton together!
Some other riders that could get involved are Van Poppel, Blythe, Lawless and Sanz.
There are two outside sprinters I’d like to mention.
Søren Kragh Andersen may be second choice on paper out of the Sunweb team, but I would fancy his chances of getting over the final climbs compared to his team-mate Bauhaus. I’d wrote that before the teams were finalised but it seems Bauhaus isn’t riding so it’s just SKA. Packing a solid sprint after a tough day, in this type of field he could surprise.
Lastly, I think Baptiste Planckaert deserves a very worthy mention. The Belgian rider has settled in well at World Tour level, nabbing a few top 10 results for his new team Katusha. Much more than a fast sprinter, this type of stage looks ideal for him and I think he has a very good chance at a podium.
If we do get that attacking day I’m hoping for then look to the likes of Finetto, Bibby, Stewart, Weening and Hivert to animate the race.
I really want to call this as an attacking day, but I’ll be sensible for once and go for a reduced bunch sprint of around 40 riders.
I’ll not be sensible with the following though…
A few of the bigger names will miss out and that will give an opportunity for someone else to step into the limelight. Planckaert to win!
No GC bet so just stage 1 picks;
0.5pt EW Planckaert @ 22/1 with Bet365
0.5pt EW Kragh Andersen @40/1 with Bet365
Oh so tempted with the 66/1 on offer for Finetto if the race does break up, but I think I’ll leave it with the two “sprinters”!
Thanks as always for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated. How do you think tomorrow’s stage will pan out and who will eventually be the winner? Anyway,
*Apologies in advance, this will be a more truncated preview than normal, I’m away on a family holiday tomorrow so don’t have much time to write this. I’ll be focussing more on contenders than route etc*
Basically, it’s a mix of shortish climbs in the mid portion of the race, followed by a mainly flat finish into London with a couple of bumps along the way.
How will the race pan out?
The profile suggests bunch sprint, previous editions suggest otherwise.
Ride London is normally dominated by fast and aggressive racing, as the teams without top sprinters attempt to split the race up over the climbs. Having smaller teams (6 riders per squad) is also conducive to more aggressive racing as there are less team-mates to control the breakaways and attacks.
This is one of the toughest races to predict the outcome of.
We could well see a sprint of 70-80 riders, a sprint of around 40, a small group of 10 or less make it to the line, or even a solo winner.
All of the above are all very plausible outcomes.
The team with the strongest candidate here has to be Orica BikeExchange who have Michael Matthews. The Aussie rider will be able to deal with all of the climbs easily and he isn’t afraid to go onto the attack. He has a very fast sprint after a tough day, as was shown on Stage 10 at the Tour. He has to start as favourite. The only concern is that Orica don’t like to chase all day, so he might have to force/follow the attacks himself and could be outnumbered late in the race. Howson will be the key for him.
Etixx have a strong squad here, if not the strongest, with two great candidates in the shape of Boonen and Trentin. I would say the Italian has the greater all round abilities to win this race compared to his veteran team-mate. It will be interesting to see how they play it. In Terpstra, Vandenbergh and Martinelli they have strong riders to chase moves or to force the opposition to work. Although Marintelli won’t win himself, because Gaviria isn’t here to be led out.
Last year’s winner Drucker returns for BMC. Their team is not as strong as in previous editions, and they don’t have a proper sprinter. They will have to force the race and split it up which is possible, with the likes of Oss and Gerts.
Sky come here with the Tour winner, but I can’t see him doing anything here. Their hopes will be Swift or DVP in some kind of sprint, but their main card could well be Stannard. The powerhouse of a rider did a great deal of work at the Tour and this type of race will suit him down to a tee. He should be able to manage the climbs and his big diesel engine will get better as the race goes. I can imagine he’ll be given the go ahead to mark attacks/go himself, while the others wait for a sprint.
Lotto come here without a big-name sprinter so will most likely turn to Roelandts as their main hope. A great classics rider, he’ll deal with Box Hill etc easily and he packs a fast kick too from a reduced group! Jelle Wallays might also have an impact on the days outcome.
The other big name Brits: Cummings, Blythe and Dowsett could all pull something off here. With Blythe winning here before, he is very capable of winning a sprint. The other two will have to come home alone.
Away from the bigger teams and well-known riders there are a few guys from Pro-Conti and Continental teams that I’d like to highlight. It will be tough for these riders to win, but I hope we get a good showing from them!
First up is Karol Domagalski from One Pro Cycling. The Polish rider is a fairly solid climber and isn’t afraid of attacking. Earlier in June he won a stage in Korea with a great attack in the final 5km. Furthermore, he’s shown recent form, after winning the “bunch” sprint at the Ordiziako Klasika, so has a good turn of speed from a small group.
Xandro Meurisse has recently just switched team from Crelan to Wanty as a stagiaire and gets his first race here. He finished 7th on GC at the Tour de Wallonie earlier this week so clearly has good legs. Another fast finisher from a small group he out-sprinted Coquard in Dunkerque after a tough end to the stage that involved some short, steep climbs. If he makes a small selection here, I’d keep an eye on him!
I can’t go through these three riders without selecting a Brit, so Thomas Stewart gets the nod. The Madison Genesis rider has had a very consistent, picking up a win in Wales not so long ago, but also managing an 11th place on GC at the Tour de Yorkshire. He’ll hope to make it over the climbs with the favourites, and he should not be underestimated!
I think we’ll see another selective race tomorrow. I’d love to see one of the 3 “lesser” riders I’ve named steal a win, even a podium would be great! However, I fancy Ian Stannard to put in a killer attack somewhere near the finish and with the others marking each other out/not co-operating, he’ll storm away to victory. After all, he has Tour legs!
No odds up as of writing.
I’ll be backing Stannard for the win, most likely EW, odds dependant. If he’s 20/1 or under I’ll just go straight up.
If there are somehow odds for my 3 outside riders, then I might have a small fun play on them. If not, it’ll just be Yogi.
Stannard 33/1 at B365 1pt EW
0.125pt EW on Meurrise (80/1) & Domagalski (200/1)
Thanks again for reading, any feedback is always appreciated. Do you think we’ll see a selective race? Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be able to watch it as I’ll be travelling most of the day 😦 I’m taking my laptop with me so the next preview should be for the Olympics RR, but I’m not promising anything. Enjoy the race wherever you’re watching it from! Anyway,