Another sprint stage, another 2,500m of vertical gain. The climbing is guaranteed, the sprint isn’t and today could tempt more breakaways after yesterday’s success.
King for a day: the stage win for Ben King and big deal for him and his team, his first grand tour stage and World Tour level win; their first World Tour win this year. The breakaway stayed away and before the final climb King, Nikita Stalnov of Astana and Jelle Wallays of Lotto-Soudal jumped away. Wallays looked too big for the looming climb and was quickly dropped as King and Stalnov both looked on the limit as they tried to hold off a chasing Pierre Rolland but King was the more energetic, towing on the flat sections and he jumped Stalnov on the final rise to the line to win. Behind Simon Yates went clear from the GC contenders, it’s becoming a trade mark move to go earlier than we might imagine and then tuck into a solo time trial. Emmanuel Buchmann also showed and his late surge saw him almost reach Yates Otherwise Michał Kwiatkowski stays in red but only had David de la Cruz for support on the final climb and the Spaniard was struggling at times, as was Fabio Aru.
The Route: 188km and over 2,500m of vertical gain. This is a lumpy day culminating in the Alto El Marchal, the final climb of the day which is a long and gradual ascent with typical gradients of 4-5% which is enough to drop some sprinters.
The Finish: a flat finish in Roquetas de Mar, these days the host for the early season one-day race the Clásica de Almería but it’s not the same finish. There’s a straight 4km into town and then under the 1km banner there’s a left hand turn on a roundabout and then another with 650m to go and then a straight run to the line on the sea front.
The Contenders: sprint or breakaway? The sprinters have to seize their chances and today several of those in the race will fancy their chances. Elia Viviani (Quick Step) can cope with a climb and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) are even better, the latter unshipped his chain in the sprint two days ago and wants revenge for the mishap.
Who to pick from a breakaway? The final climb means the likes of Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) can barge away, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Joey Rosskopf and Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) are also random picks.
|Nacer Bouhanni, Matteo Trentin|
Weather: 35°C but cloudy a strong chance of rain in time for the finish which matters as a summer shower can make urban Spanish roads resemble a skating rink
Tune in: the final climb starts at 4.10pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.10pm.