A stage that is the antithesis of the Vuelta itself, a 32km time trial to the “Oscar Freire Sports Complex”, named in tribute to the three time world champion who is from the finish town. He’ll probably pop up later today when people least expect it.
Vintage Pinot: a stage win for Thibaut Pinot. He’d come for a stage win and having lost time in the crosswinds of the opening week was able to get away, he attacked after a flurry of moves from others and it wasn’t a priority to close him down. Still this wasn’t a soft, tactical win as by the time he went there were only a few riders left in contention and he climbed faster than them all. The road to the Lagos de Covadonga provided the biggest “reveal” of the race so far with the likes of Rigoberto Uran and Wilco Kelderman falling away. Their GC bids are not over but like Pinot they’re rather compromised and may prefer to seek stage wins. Simon Yates is in red and looks strong, we’ll learn more today but as those who watched the Giro and also Paris-Nice will remember leading the race is not the same as winning it. Otherwise it’s close which adds to the importance of today, for all Miguel Angel Lopez’s punchy riding he could lose more than he gained today.
The Route: 32km and 590m of vertical gain (against 390m in the roadbook). There are rolling roads but nothing severe. The main climb of the day is that out of Novales, a 2.5km climb where the road twists up through woodland, including a kilometre at over 6%. It’s not too hard but it is where some can go into the red, overdo it here and you’ve got half the course left to regret it.
The Contenders: Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) is still in the Vuelta. While the likes of Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) have been in the breakaways Dennis has been near-invisible and if he wins today it’ll be worthwhile. Campenaerts could push him close and Kwiatkowski will appreciate the rolling course.
Nelson Oliveira could be the surprise today, Movistar’s Portuguese rider is a TT specialist and had a good opening stage. Team Sky collectively have been very quiet in this race but Jonathan Castroviejo is handy in time trials but has been under the radar so far. Richie Porte has the technical ability but the form looks off.
Among the GC contenders Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) is probably the most proficient but he’s 9th overall and not in convincing form. There’s a good chance Simon Yates can keep the race lead today although Alejandro Valverde could push him close, the Briton has been improving in the time trials.
|Nelson Oliveira, Victor Campenaerts, Michał Kwiatkowski|
|Ion Izaguirre, Kelderman, Castroviejo, Brändle|
Weather: a mild day, 24°C.
Tune in: the last rider is due in for 5.40pm CEST.