Stage 16 brought a lot more excitement that first anticipated. Tomorrow, it looks like a day for the breakaway. 2755 climbing meters should be too much for the sprinters, but with the GC still being raced, you can not rule out someone wants to control the day for bonus seconds. Nonetheless, I think it will be a day for the breakaway.
The first third is not the hardest, but there are two hills where I think it is most likely we see the elastic break. And since it is not likely we see anyone close on the GC trying to sneak in, due to it being a flatter day, Quick-Step are none the ones who will control the day.
It is likely the break will be created on one of the two climbs, 2.5 km at 5.7% and 1km at 6.6%.
From there, it is a long day until the finale. To me, it looks like a real fuga de la fuga. So many small climbs and short descends to get a small gap and power it home. The main problem is the descents are not very technical and the climbs are not that difficult. So timing it just right (I think 25 – 20 km from the line) looks to be the best spot.
Monasterio de Tendudía
The final climb(s).
First part: 3.1 km at 6.3%.
Short plateau in between of 2.8 km. Up and down!
Second part: 4.2 km at 7.4%.
Very important notes may be the narrow road and the important corner with 150 meters out. If you are going to win the sprint, you actually want to be the first through the corner.
Warm, but not above 30 degrees. Wind from the SW, meaning a headwind for the first half but a nice tailwind to the line.
How will the stage unfold?
The only team I think would have chased for bonus seconds now have a hurt leader. It would be a very positive surprise to see him being on the move again tomorrow. He is a fighter – but an unlucky one more often than he should be.
Quick-Step? It is about watching the ones close to the red jersey. Defend will be their approach. Movistar? I doubt Mas fancy his chances on the finish tomorrow. It is a good climb for both Ayuso and Almeida, but do they really pose a big threat either of them?
It just looks to be a day for the breakaway.
Soler / Polanc– Soler has been going well. I like what I have seen from him so far. He really came here on a high note and he still looks to be going strong. The flat start tomorrow is good news for him – it will make it harder for some of the pure climbers to drop him. He is more likely to win solo than from a reduced sprint and the same goes for Polanc. Both would be excellent at attacking before the climb and TT it home.
Vine – has he got anything left? A lack of KOM points will likely make him stay in the peloton – but you never know with Jay Vine. He got a big engine and tomorrow is a bit cooler, something he thrives better in than the heat.
Jungels / Champoussin. The first named is back. He did a very big pull for O’Connor in week 2 – and this is a stage that should suit him well. A flat start is good for him, and rolling terrain is just what he likes. In the third week, it is often the engine that does the work. We will see if he is allowed freedom and if he has the legs. Champoussin impressed me on Sierra Nevada, a medium mountain day suits him better and he got a fast finish.
Wright – I do not know where his limits are. He seems to be in fantastic shape and he is still going very well. He will be one of the favorites tomorrow, especially if Bahrain will be kind enough to send a few men up the road (LLS & Mäder).
Battistella / DLX: An Astana duo. It has not been said a lot this season, but they both look terrific. Battistella to wait for the final sprint and DLX to put pressure on the other riders in the breakaway. They have everything they need for a win tomorrow – they just have to get in the break and not waste their energy.
Herrada – a good finish for him. Uphill and medium mountain. He has been silent since his stage win but tomorrow is a very good day for him.
Valverde – probably his best chance of taking a stage win. The team would need to prioritize him above GC, meaning we could see him on the move with the likes of Verona and Oliviera. I really do hope so – they owe him that.
⭐⭐⭐ Soler, Herrada
⭐⭐ Battistella, Polanc, Champoussin
⭐ Vine, Higuita, DLX, Jungels
Who will win?
A lot of riders seem equal to me tomorrow. I will listen to my heart and pray Valverde will be allowed by Movistar to join the morning breakaway and take a stage win.