We are back with a mountain top finish, with a very tough start too.
Firstly, it is quite a short stage. The first third has three climbs, the two first the most demanding. Alto de la Colladona (7 km at @ 6.3%) is the first one, right off the start. Alto de la Mozqueta (7.2 km at 6%) is the next. It is good for the climbers wanting to get in the breakaway.
From the top of the third climb of the day, we have a long section where there are no very difficult climbs but very rolling terrain.
The finale climb is the toughest so far in the Vuelta. I am very interested to see, how much damage can be done as the Pico Jano really surprised me. I have to assume the change of weather made an impact, as a climb of that degree should not see that big timegaps – despite a fantastic ride from Mas and Evenepoel.
No wind, no rain and 25 degrees.
How will the stage unfold?
In almost every stage of all the three Grand Tours this season, we have not seen a lot of climbing in the early part of the stages “to spare the sprinters” is my take. Finally, we have a few. This means strong climbers should be able to make the break and they should have an easier time fending off the chasing GC favorites on the final climb.
I would also argue that the lack of very difficult climbs, prior to Collau Fancuaya makes it very difficult to spot why the peloton would push the pace to a crazy extent. Quick-Step will look to defend the jersey. JV could pull for Roglic, but given how he rode two days ago, I would find it a bit odd to ride for the stage win. INEOS could want to play their numbers, but then again – for the stage win?
Furthermore, Movistar is right up there. We know they fancy chasing. Bora-Hansgrohe showed great interest in doing so too in the Giro d’Italia. We will have to see on the road.
Evenepoel – a display of power the other day. It looked like we would have a good laugh at Quick-Step for a short moment before he turned on the gas and dropped almost everyone from his wheel. It was a very good climb for him the other day, today is a bit steeper but nothing he should be very worried about. I don’t see him losing red and I doubt they will ride for the stage win.
Roglic – it is not often he is dropped and therefore we must assume he is not a 100%. It could have been an off-day, but he still lost nearly a minute. If it comes back to a reduced GC-sprint – he will be tough to beat.
Mas – I think he does better on the days harder than this, but he has surprised me – twice. He is doing well in uphill sprints, he was the only one who could follow Evenepoel too. He will be right up there.
Ayuso – in between the three abovementioned. He has a good kick on him, but I fear UAE will switch all their focus to Almeida. They should play both cards. He should be up there too, but I find it difficult for him to win.
INEOS – they have the numbers. Three of them. They sit almost two minutes down. I think they should gamble a bit on a day like this, on the last climb. To see how Evenepoel reacts in the leader’s jersey. I don’t think anyone will help him close down attacks and they should not. It could be an advantage for INEOS.
Padun – breakaway hope #1
Lutsenko – breakaway hope #2
Buitrago – breakaway hope #3
Vine – breakaway hope #4
⭐⭐⭐ Lutsenko, Evenepoel
⭐⭐ Roglic, Sivakov, Vine
⭐ Tao G. Hart, Ayuso, Buitrago, Mas