A hard day in the Vuelta, what it lacks in high altitude it makes up for with steep roads and a very tough finish.
Stage 13, lucky for some: a win for Óscar Rodríguez of the Euskadi-Murias team who surged past Rafał Majka and Dylan Teuns on the final climb. He would have been a long range pick at the start of the day and even come the start of the final climb surely few outside of his immediate family would have cited him as the winner. But he overhauled Rafał Majka and Dylan Teuns – a specialist climber and of the best riders on sharp uphill finishes in the World Tour – to take a surprise win. Majka and Teuns seemed to ignore him, perhaps not believing he could ride away but with the finish in sight Majka tried to accelerate but Rodriguez was well clear. Behind Nairo Quintana and Simon Yates opened up a gap on the rest and we can look forward to a proper duel between them this Sunday. Jesus Herrada lost time but keeps his red jersey for now while Emmanuel Buchmann, Ion Izaguirre and Fabio Aru all lost more time.
The Route: 171km and if the roadbook says 2,910m of vertical gain today it’s almost a rounding error for the 3,456m that awaits, a mere rounding error given recent differences. There’s an unmarked climb near the start to lift the race away from the valley but it’s a gentle climb and then across to the Puerto San Isidro, a gentle one too followed by a long descent and then into the climb to La Colladona, 5km at 8%. The climb of the Alto de la Mozqueta is hard, 6.5km at 8.7% and all on a twisting mountain road with a matching descent, then straight into La Falle de los Lobos, 5.3km at 6.4%. Then comes a descent into Nava and then they leave the town on a very small and narrow road. The bunch will be shrunk by now but it’s still a small road and climbs up past small farms before dropping down on the same narrow road to the final climb.
The Finish: 4km at 12.5% and it’s all pretty even. If that sounds steep, factor in the difficulty of the road surface, this is one of those concrete paved tracks and the final metres – unless a crew of workers has arrived in the last week – are gravel. This is a very hard finish and if it doesn’t have the wild 20% gradients of yesterday’s finish on La Camperona it’s still very difficult, comparable to the Eibar-Arrate climb of the Tour of the Basque Country.
The Contenders: the breakaway has a good chance again and so we look for good climber who is no threat overall and who won’t be retained for team services today. It’s this last criterion that makes picking a name harder, recently more riders have stayed with their leaders, for example Michael Woods accompanying Rigoberto Uran and Omar Fraile helping Miguel Angel Lopez. Still maybe some are let off the leash, think Mark Padun of Bahrain-Merida, Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) can find mountains more to his liking or maybe Tiesj Benoot goes for it. It’s a lottery to get in the break and then win from it.
Otherwise among the GC contenders both Nairo Quintana and Simon Yates look the most spritely for a steep finish but many will be thinking of tomorrow’s Covadonga summit finish where big gaps can be opened up.
|Simon Yates, Nairo Quintana|
|Woods, Padun, Formolo, Benoot|
Weather: sunshine and clouds, a top temperature of 24°C
Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.