Vuelta Stage 13 Preview: Bilbao -> Urdax-Dantxarinea

Today’s Recap

Phew, that was full gas from the start! The break only managed to get away on the first categorised climb of the day. However, with the likes of Kennaugh in it, Movistar were never going to be keen to let it go. Attacks flew on the second passage of the Vivero, with Devenyns getting a reasonable gap. That move was eventually brought back and we got a reduced bunch sprint. Much to everyone’s surprise (especially Kirby who called it as Rojas from Movistar) Jens Keukeleire from Orica came out on top, producing a great sprint!


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

The Route

A classic Vuelta stage.

There are 4 Cat-3 climbs so it doesn’t sound too tough on paper, but don’t let that deceive you: there is over 3500m of climbing during the stage. Combine that with it being the longest stage of the whole Vuelta (at 213.4km), it’s a very difficult day!

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 15.13.12

The Cat-3 climbs shouldn’t be overly difficult for either the break, or the peloton. However, the final one (Puerto de Lizaieta)  will possibly be influential in the outcome of the stage. 7.2km long, at an average gradient of 4.8% won’t leave the riders quaking in their boots but after the past few days and with the climbing already covered in the stage it could cause a few splits in the break.

More than likely though (Ruben Plaza isn’t here), the stage will be won in the final 40km…

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As with previous stages where nothing is clear on the official stage profile, I’ve created a Strava profile of those final 40km. Or at least I think I have, the road book author seems to have been putting in a lot less effort for these stages, it’s harder to figure out where the stage actually goes…

Anyway, you can view that here.

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Profile of the final 40km

The final 40km is a microcosm of the entire stage, up and down all the time!

The climb that comes at around 22.5km mark is 2km long and averages 5.6%. With its position in the race, someone could try to launch a move from here. If not, then it will come down to the final climb/descent of the day (which the riders tackle twice), that I’m naming the Zugarramurdi climb.

Averaging only 3.75% for the 4km, it sounds pretty easy on paper. However, that includes a false flat section, before it kicks up again. The first km actually averages 10%, which is the perfect place for a stinging attack.

If someone crests the summit alone, they should be able to solo to victory as the descent will be fast and runs almost all the way to the finish line. There’s only around 600m of flat from the bottom to the line itself.

How will the stage pan out?

I can’t see anything past a breakaway tomorrow. I know I’ve said that the past few days, but it is too much work for any of the teams to hold it together, especially considering the monster stage that we have the following day.

So once again I’ll be naming a few candidates for the escape. Some proper longshots here!

Larry Warbasse (again).

Amstel Gold Race 2016

You know my thoughts on him by now. A solid all-rounder in search of a contract. He should be able to deal with the climbs and his been trying to get into the breaks daily. A solid rouleur, he could use his strength on the flat to get away.

Tobias Ludvigsson (again).

As you probably know by now, I’m a big fan of big T. Ludvigsson is climbing better than ever this Vuelta, finishing relatively high up on some of the tough summit finishes. As I’ve alluded to in previews earlier in the race, he is a rider in the same ilk as Tom Dumoulin and seems to be transforming in to more of an all-rounder. He seemed disappointed to have had a mechanical today. He could use his TT engine to his advantage and escape from the break and solo to the finish line. Easier said than done!

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Extract from the Giant website

Mattia Cattaneo.

Cycling: 71st Tour of Spain 2016 / Stage 8

A very promising junior, Cattaneo has failed to take home a win in the pro-ranks. However, he was very active in the break earlier on in the race, finishing 4th on Stage 8. It looks like he’s slowly starting to find his form/feet again, and tomorrow’s stage looks to suit him more than a proper summit finish. The other riders in the break would be wrong to give him too much room in the finale!


The break has to win, I mean, doesn’t it?!

I’ll go for the main man himself, Big Tobias Ludvigsson to take home the stage. As I said above, he seems to be in great form at the moment and is climbing better than ever. Tomorrow’s rolling (not proper Alpine mountains) day should suit him well.


Apologies for this being more abrupt than normal, I’m away most of tomorrow so having to write both previews this evening. Keeping things short and sweet!


Small stakes on each of the three mentioned;

0.5pt Ludvigsson @ 100/1 (B365)

0.3pt Warbasse@ 250/1 (B365)

0.2pt Cattaneo @ 300/1 (B365)

Like normal, hunt around when other bookies price up (copy B365 😉 )

No H2Hs as of yet, but if I see anything I like then I’ll post them on my Twitter.


Thanks for reading, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.



Giro stage 13: Palmanova – Cividale del Fruili

Today’s Recap

Rain, but not at the right time for us. The riders got soaked early on in the stage but it was dry at the finish. However, the organisers still decided to neutralise the final lap in terms of GC. All of this combined made it a lot less chaotic and the fastest sprinter in the race won: Greipel. It was too easy for him. Although a lot can be said for his team, Lotto Soudal did an excellent job controlling the last 20km for him.


Modolo was in an okay position but just lost the wheel in the final turn. It looked as if he got a bit of a bump. Disappointing from him, particularly as Ferrari did a good job. Oh well.

As @cyclingmole pointed out on Twitter, the Italians will definitely look forward to the final week. Now that Greipel (and possibly Demare and Ewan) is going home.

With the sprint stages over for the foreseeable future, the GC boys come out to play tomorrow.

The Route

After today’s pan-flat stage, we’re back to the grippy stuff with the first 4-star rated road stage of the Giro (with the only other being the TT in Chianti).

Stage Profile

“This is a very challenging mountain stage. The route takes in 4 categorised climbs in a row, with just a few stretches to let the bunch catch their breath. The first 45 km run on apparently flat ground, and are followed by three typical pre-Alpine climbs, marked by narrow roadway, high gradients and endless turns, both while climbing and while descending.” (Road book extract)

The final two climbs look incredibly tough.

Penultimate climb

Averaging 8.9% for just over 7.5kms, this is a brute! If anyone looks to be struggling here, the other GC contenders will put the hammer down. Expect something from Movistar or Astana to try to isolate Jungels.

A tricky descent leads into the final climb, a Cat 2 ascent up to Valle.


This climb isn’t any easier gradient wise, it’s just shorter. 8.5% for 5km this time round.

After that it’s a descent and a flat run into the finish line.

“The last 5 km are deceptively flat and actually run downhill all the way to Cividale del Friuli. The route features a few twists and turns over the last 1,000 m; the home straight (approx. 400 m in length) is on 7-m wide asphalt road.” (Road Book)

Weather Watch

With my weather predictions being about as good as my stage predictions, I’ve decided to change who I’m getting my info from. Surely has to be right?!

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Forecast for the finish town of Cividale del Fruili

As you can see, it looks to be a mixed back with the possibility of showers. Although, at less than 30% then they don’t seem too likely!

*Awaits downpour tomorrow*

How will the race pan out?

With most stages like this, much will depend on the focus from the GC teams. If they decide to go all out then it’ll be a day for them and the current top 10 of the race. If not, then a break will win like we saw in stage 10.

I think we’ll get a breakaway victory tomorrow. The reason I suggest this is that with an even tougher stage the following day (Stage 14 – rated 5 star) some of the GC teams will not want to go too deep. Furthermore, I haven’t been wholly convinced by the squads of Astana and Movistar. The former rode very aggressively last year, but haven’t been as bullish in this years edition. Have they been waiting for this stage? I’m not so sure.

Breakaway Contenders

Like I’ve said in previous stage previews, to be successful in the break the rider has to be a good climber and no threat on GC.

The flat start to the day will ensure that it will be a fast first 50km, as everyone attempts to get in the break. Therefore, it also helps if the rider is relatively strong on the flat.

We’ll no doubt see the regular contenders giving it a go: Wellens, De Marchi, Cunego etc. Along with riders from the other pro-continental/Italian teams.

Like last time, I’m going to highlight three riders who could give it a go:

  1. Primoz Roglic – The Slovenian has already won a stage which is a clear indication of some decent form (although the conditions benefited him). A strong climber (5th on GC in Algarve), he’s clearly recovered from his crash. If he gets away, he will be tough to beat. The only concern for him getting away is that there is a good chance that he’ll have to work in support of Kruijswijk.
  2. Matteo Busato – He’s been incredibly good at the start of the season but hasn’t shown that much here. Might not be the best of climbers, but in a breakaway it’s sometimes just the strongest who wins and he’ll be hard to beat. If he can keep up with the rest of the breakaway, he’ll definitely fancy himself in a sprint.
  3. Moreno Moser – Another attacking rider who seems to be on good form at the moment. With Uran not going so well, Moser could be given some freedom. He’ll want to improve on his 3rd place into Arezzo.


As I said above I think a breakaway wins. From those three highlighted above I think Moser will continue the good family name and get his maiden Grand Tour win!

Gara ciclistica "Strade Bianche"

There is a chance we get a GC showdown. If so, look to the strongest on the final climb yesterday; Nibali, Chaves and Valverde.


Another day to choose your breakaway lottery tickets and hope for the best!

I’m going to suggest:

0.3pt Roglic @200/1 (PP)

0.3pt Busato @250/1 (365)

0.4pt Moser @200/1 (365)

Look out for other bookmakers as they might price more generously. I’ll probably have a few selections on the BF Exchange as well, because you can normally get better odds there.

Will go in-play if it’s going to be more of a GC day.

Hope you enjoyed the preview, we should be in for a much more exciting stage than today’s offering! Any feedback/discussion on Twitter would be great as usual. Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.