A summit finish at La Camperona, notionally 8km at 7.5% which would be hard enough but it’s got sections above 15% and moments above 20%.
The Colossus of Rodez: another day, another maxi-breakaway, this time 18 riders going clear with Jesus Herrada of Cofidis only five minutes down on GC. Unlike Pinot yesterday he’s not got the pedigree of a GC contender so was given more room, so much that he’s now the overall leader with three minutes. Generous? Yes but he’s unlikely to “do a Walkowiak” because if he’s shown ability to make the top-10 in races like the Tour de Romandie before when he’s had a chance rather than working for others, it’s still a leap to extrapolate from that to an overall win, even with a three minute head start. Still Cofidis are having a great Vuelta, a stage win for Bouhanni and Maté has worn the mountains jersey since the start and has 60 points to Ben King on 33.
Geniez’s win was a crafty one. He and Dries Devenyns had made the split when the group shrunk but the pair were hanging back as riders attacked and others chased them down, at one point looked to be out of it until Geniez surged across to form a move of six, the last man across. In the finishing straight Dylan van Baarle got on the wrong wheel and had to take the long way around Davide Formolo. Geniez launched his sprint and looked to have gone too early, the finally a mistake but he was well away, the Frenchman packs a strong sprint for a climber and has won several times from a group. No sooner had he finished his victory celebration he collided with an errant member of the race staff and van Baarle crashed hard.
The Route: 175km and with an uphill start over the Alto de la Madera to help the breakaway form, plenty of riders will have been warming up before the start today. Then it’s across flatter roads to reach the Puerto de Tarna, a long climb at 13km and at 5.8% and solid 6-7% for the upper eight kilometres before a more gentle descent.
The Finish: 8km at 7.5%, as you can see there’s 2.5km of false flat then 1.5km at a selective 7.3%, more false flat and then the wall section for the final two kilometres where signs warn of 24% slope and it’s consistently above 15% but irregular, the slope keeps changing.
The Contenders: a good day for a breakaway. Today’s winner has to be able to cope with the final climb so Ben King (Dimension Data), Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) all come to mind, especially Mollema, thanks to recent performances but Rolland’s team mate Michael Woods is a pick for a steep finish like this too. There are many others down on GC now who can aim for the stage, old hands Igor Anton (Dimension Data) and Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural) could try, at the other end of the age scale Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) is a promising climber. Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) looks to be climbing very well but could be on duty for Emmanuel Buchmann.
Among the GC contenders Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) look the most able for a climb like this and George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo) is looking punchy.
|King, Majka, Woods, Yates, Quintana, Valverde|
Weather: sunshine and clouds, a cool 21°C.
Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.