*Apologies again, this preview will be very short as I’m away out for a family dinner this evening*
An insane stage that had a bit of everything!
As I predicted it was the break that fought it out for the stage win. Throughout the final climb there were several riders who looked as if they had the stage victory in their grasps. Sanchez looked good on the early slopes, then Conti looked as if he was the winner elect. However, neither of them made the top 10! Instead, it was Latour and Atapuma who entered a dog-fight and it was the Frenchman who just had enough at the end of the stage. One of the best finales to a Grand Tour stage I’ve seen in a while, everyone in every group was on their limit!
Behind, Chaves repeated Orica’s tactics from Stage 14, attacking on the penultimate climb and bridging to team-mates. Doing so has saw him creep onto the GC podium, 13 seconds ahead of Contador. Another tactical masterclass from the Aussie outfit.
Froome tested Quintana but the Colombian always had the measure of him. The biggest loser on the day has to be Scarponi who dropped out of the top 10.
Anyway, let’s look ahead at the processional stage into Madrid.
Nothing overly exciting.
An expected flat bunch sprint and no real focal points to talk about.
A straightforward and fast circuit within Madrid to end the day and the Vuelta. There are a few sharp hairpin turns that will stretch the bunch out. Positioning into that final hairpin just before 1km to go will be key. If you’re too far back then you have no chance.
The few sprints we’ve had so far this Vuelta have been fairly messy which makes tomorrow even more unpredictable.
Saying that, I do expect a few teams to take control tomorrow.
Etixx will control it for Meersman, Orica now devoid of GC duties will possibly control it for Cort and Giant will work hard for Arndt.
I can’t really see anyone else competing with those three. Possibly Drucker, Felline, Sbaragli & Van Genechten could get in the mix but it’s very unlikely.
Looking at the teams three lead-outs, Etixx and Giant are a cut above Orica.
On a stage like this, Orica will probably adopt the Lampre tactic where Gerrans-Keukeleire-Cort try and ambush the front of the race within the last 1.5km. In a messy sprint, this could be very effective!
Both Etixx and Giant so far have shown a willingness to control the race from far out and command the final 5km. Therefore there is no chance that a break makes this, it’s not the Giro! 😉
I was very impressed with the lead-out from Giant on Stage 18, they are finally getting things together. They were just unlucky it didn’t go their way in the end.
On a flat sprint, I would say that Arndt is faster than Meersman. Cort has shown if he’s in the right position he can go well too.
Arndt finally gets his stage win! I mean, they surely have to get it right, don’t they?!
2.6pts WIN Arndt @ 4/1 with Bet365
0.2pt EW De Koert @ 400/1 with Bet365. Only doing this as Arndt came dead last today, might not be 100%. De Koert would be the go to sprint option.
Massive thanks to everyone who has read and shared the blog throughout the Vuelta! I know my predictions haven’t been the best, but thanks for sticking with me. I’m not sure what other races I’ll be doing this year but I’ll definitely be doing the Worlds, both men and women.
Apologies again for this being shorter than normal! Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.