Vuelta a Andalucia 2018 Stage 4 Preview; Sevilla › Alcalá de los Gazules

Today’s Recap

We did end with a sprint and Modolo took the win as expected.

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Barbero followed him home with young Colombian Soto taking his first European podium.

Let’s have a look at what is in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

A weird stage that has a lot of flat but with a mountain in the middle of the day and a tricky finish.

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The road does roll a little from around the 60km mark but it is nothing too serious. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the break to form as a lot of riders and teams will fancy its chances.

We should see something go by around 30km into the day but you never know. The first obstacle the peloton will have to face is the Puerto de las Palomas. It’s a long climb at 12.5km with a fairly steady 6.5% gradient throughout. It’s too far from the finish to be attacked by the GC group so I imagine they’ll ride at a steady tempo. It could split the break if someone really decides to push on but that all depends on the composition of the move.

Once over the crest they’ll face a small descent before the Puerto del Boyar. A short climb at only 2kms, it is more an interruption to the downhill more than anything else. Fifteen kilometres of proper descent follows before the road rolls in the closing 70km. Again, there is nothing too serious but it can sap the legs.

The major difficulty of the day though is the climb to the finish.

The road actually climbs for a few hundred metres before the video begins.

You should be able to see above how terrible the surface is. Well, it’s just typical for a side-street in Southern Spain. Some of the gaps between the paving stones look fairly large! I mean it does get better for a bit, but then it gets considerably worse after again.

The road is also extremely narrow and can only comfortably fit one car up it so positioning will be important coming into the bottom so expect a big battle between the GC contenders and their teams.

The average gradient of 10% for 1.4km almost makes the climb easier than it actually is. In fact, there is even a little descent around half-way up!

Andalucia S4 Fin

If people haven’t done a proper recon, then they’ll be in for a big shock. I just hope they haven’t repaired the road surface, it would just take away from the spectacle/my viewing pleasure. It is one that I’ll enjoy from the comfort of my chair. I mean, just look at the final turn…

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Some great Spanish infrastructure!

The winner here will certainly be deserving of it, that is for sure.

Break or no break?

The age-old question is back again.

One of the factors that does swing the stage into the breakaway’s hands is the fact there are no bonus seconds on the line so there is no need to catch them. Sky have their stage win and GC lead so they’ll be happy enough to just ride tempo and have a battle behind. Astana have looked the liveliest in chasing the break but their best option might be to send someone up the road themselves and let Sky do the work and hopefully tire them out.

I really can’t see anyone else pitching in to help work so with that said, I think we all know where this is going…

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My Tickets

The flat start to the stage makes this a really interesting day. Theoretically, it should be harder for the climbers who might fancy their chances on the closing slope to make the break as they’ll be weaker in the opening part of the day compared to the rouleurs.

Moreno Moser.

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I mean, why the heck not mention him for the third day out of 4! I’ll keep this one brief but it’s pretty much the same reasoning as in the other previews. Astana want a stage win and Moser said in an interview with the team that he would like a chance at personal glory this week. On the finish of stage 2 he buried himself on the run in and on the footslopes of the final climb. Explosive enough to go well on the steep gradients out of a break, can he finally deliver after I’m rambled on about him so much this week?

Silvan Dillier.

Active in Laigueglia and active on the opening day of racing, the Ag2R man sits third on the mountain classification but is still in with a chance of winning it if he takes maximum points on the day. The flat start gives him a good opportunity to make the break over some better climbers but he should not be discounted on the slopes himself. A punchy rider, he might just surprise.

Lluís Mas Bonet.

Cycling: 51th Tour of Turkey 2015/ Stage 8

Re-used pick number two. The current leader of the KOM competition, he might want a venture in to the break to secure that classification. Today a team-mate swept up the points for him but he’ll possibly need to go in the move himself. The flat start might make it difficult for him but he has a lot of fighting spirit. If the composition of the break is made up of mainly rouleurs, he has the climbing ability to take the win.

Sean De Bie.

An all-rounder, the Belgian can climb ok, sprint well and put in a good effort against the clock. He’s had a fairly disappointing few stages so far with only an 11th place on the opening day. He did manage to pick up a win in Etoile before finishing 8th on GC so he does have some form. The type of rider who will hope that the break is made up of heavier riders with few climbers; he could be one to look out for.

GC Battle

It will be interesting to see what gaps we get between the GC contenders. The climb is short and steep enough that team-mates aren’t a great help. Positioning will be important coming into the bottom so expect to see a big battle between Astana and Sky for control of the peloton. The Kazakh team have the advantage of having two riders in contention so I think we might see Fuglsang go hard and early in an attempt to put the others into difficulty.

Poels motored away from everyone with his accelerations on stage 2 and with the same form he could do something similar tomorrow. The climb isn’t long so it will be interesting to see how he approaches it.

Landa is of course a danger, especially when you think of his performance on the brutally steep ramps of Aia a few years ago.

Then of course we have Sanchez who is in incredible shape at the moment. He’ll fancy his chances of winning the title in the TT but he will be wary of Sky and their ability to pull some great results against the clock out. He needs to not lose any time to Poels here in my opinion.

Wellens is the dark horse but he can’t be underestimated. He’s started this season in sparkling form and his performance on stage 2 will be a massive confidence boost. The shorter distance in theory gives him even more of a chance of a good result as his weight won’t be as much of a detriment.

Given how close they all were on stage 2 it is hard to split them. I reckon we’ll see someone fall behind but I’m not so sure as to who. As to who might profit on the day and move into a more commanding GC place, that also has me stumped!

I’m just looking forward to a good race, hopefully on two fronts.

Prediction

The break to stay away and Silvan Dillier to win.

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His development last season impressed me a lot and he seems to have continued that so far this season with some good performances in his few race days so far. He can climb well enough to cope with the ascents in the middle of the day but he’s also punchy enough to be in with a chance at the finish. Of course, it all depends on who makes the break (Hint – None of my picks typically will) but I will be watching him with interest if he does.

Betting

Just can’t bring myself to back Dillier at the price he is so;

1pt WIN on both

Moser @ 50/1

Mas Bonet @ 80/1

Thanks as always for reading. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will it be a GC rider or will the break succeed? Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

 

Ruta del Sol Stage 4 Preview; La Campana -> Sevilla

Today’s Recap

In the words of Frank Schleck we were “one lousy second” off of stage victory with Valverde. Swings and roundabouts though, as the result meant he moved one second ahead of Contador into the GC lead!

But nothing should take away from a great ride from Victor Campenaerts, who was erm, the victor!

09-09-2016 Vuelta A Espana; Tappa 19 Xabia - Calp; 2016, Lotto Nl - Jumbo; Campenaerts, Victor; Calp;

I discounted him yesterday in my preview having not seen much from him this year so far and alas I was proven very wrong. He’s continued on his good form on from the back-end of last year and with a Vuelta now in his legs he looks set to have a good year.

With the next couple of stages not being too difficult for the overall contenders we shouldn’t see any changes to the GC, but you just never know. Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s in store for the riders tomorrow.

The Route

Easy -> Tough -> Easy.

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There isn’t really much to say about this stage route as the main difficulties come in the middle of the stage.

After the exciting racing of the past few days, this one definitely isn’t going to be a classic.

There are a few kick ups in the closing kilometres but they won’t have any impact on the race!

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The thing that will have an impact on the race (if it comes to a bunch sprint) is the technicality of the closing  1.5kms.

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A sharp, but fairly open left hand hairpin starts it off for the riders at 1.5km to go.

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They then progress 500m or so, passing under the flamme rouge before taking on a “kinky” roundabout. From there, it’s another few hundred metres of straight road before cutting through the greenery.

This area has a couple of turns too but they shouldn’t be too bad as they look fairly open and the final turn actually looks like it can be taken at pace.

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Once through the final turn it will be a 300m sprint to the line.

How will the stage pan out?

The pressing question is if we will actually see a bunch sprint at the end of the day or not? Compared to Algarve and even Oman, the sprint field here is very weak and that’s fair enough considering the tough parcours we have at this race. Bryan Coquard is the main attraction and he is much better than the rest of the guys here. I mean, the likes of Kreder, Capiot, Maikin, and Hofland are all solid sprinters, but they aren’t the cream of the crop. Will their teams really spend all day on the front of the peloton when there is a chance they might even lose to the likes of Valverde?!

So with that being said, I think tomorrow is a breakaway day. There are plenty of riders far enough back on time not to worry the GC teams, we might even see a large group of 10 guys get away. As to who might be in it? Your guess is as good as mine, but like usual I’ll highlight a few riders I think might try to make the morning move. There are more obvious candidates, such as Wellens, but I’m going to try to pick some riders from the “lesser” teams, assuming that they’ll be more keen to go on the attack. First up is…

Yukiya Arashiro.

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The Japanese rider doesn’t win that much but he is always a shoe-in for a breakaway at least once a race. On his day he can be a very tough rider to beat and he possesses a fairly fast kick from a reduced bunch. If a group of 5 or so riders came to the line together then he definitely would have a good chance. He probably would need the breakaway to be formed before the climbing start as he’s not as strong as he used to be in that discipline. With the team losing their GC rider today they’ll be keen to make amends in the coming stages.

Gaetan Bille.

The Belgian may not be well known but he is a fairly solid climber and all rounder. Riding for the Verandas Willems team, they’re bound to get someone up the road tomorrow and that could well be Gaetan.

Mark McNally.

After making the step up to Pro-Conti level last year, the Brit had a fairly solid year with his new team Wany Groubert picking up 2 seconds places. One of those was after being part of the breakaway at the Eneco Tour. In his race preview with @cyclingmole he seemed to air around the idea of trying to getting into a break this week. He’s not managed to make it in yet, is tomorrow that day?

Pim Ligthart.

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A rider taking a step down from World Tour to Pro-Conti this year to chase personal ambitions and get more leadership opportunities he might be given the nod to try and get in the break here. With a second place already this year in Valenciana and after putting in a solid TT today, he seems to be in decent form. Roompot won’t want to put all their eggs in a Kreder’s sprint basket and Ligthart is a great option to have up the road.

Prediction

Breakaway winner and I’ll go for Mark McNally to get his first pro victory. Why the hell not!

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Betting

0.125pt WIN on the following with Bet365;

McNally @ 100/1

Arashiro @ 200/1

Brandle @ 300/1

Ludvigsson @ 300/1

Not backing Bille (as he’s not quoted) and Ligthart’s odds are poor. Brandle and Ludvigsson both offer good alternatives.

Thanks for reading. Do you think we’ll see a breakaway win or will it come back to a group sprint? Will we maybe even see some GC action?! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.