Vuelta Stage 18 Preview

A long and scenic stage, normally promised to the sprinters but with so few of them left, the hilly terrain could help another breakaway stay away for the day.

Stage 17 Wrap: IAM Cycling keep on winning, this time Mathias Frank won the stage after joining the day’s breakaway and then forcing the pace later on despite a challenge from Robert Gesink, Dario Cataldo and Leopold König, all Vuelta stage winners. The latter must be desperate to salvage something, everyone saw Chris Froome losing the Vuelta last weekend but König also lost his 5th place overall, a valuable position given the points available and the lively transfer market.

The Route: 200km and a return to the coast, via over 2,500m of vertical gain along the way and scenic for much of the way with the Puerto de Casa del Alto, 13km at 4%.

The Finish: a fast run into Gandía with two roundabouts inside the final kilometre but they’re wide before a 600m straight run to the line.

The Contenders: a sprint and a chance for Etixx-Quickstep to make amends for the lead-out that faded earlier on Monday, leaving Gianni Meersman floundering. Jempy Drucker won and showed a powerful sprint. Nikias Arndt has been getting close, maybe he’s the pick for Sunday’s stage in Madrid instead? Bora-Argon 18’s Rüdiger Selig has been close but remains an unlikely winner.

Can the breakaway stick? The hillier terrain rewards them and it’ll be interesting to see which teams send riders up the road, for example BMC Racing can rely on Drucker for the sprint but don’t need to give him a big lead out so they can send riders up the road again, think Dylan Teuns for example. It’s a lottery but why not keep an eye on Zdeněk Štybar, the Czech rider has had a discreet Vuelta so far.

Gianni Meersman, J-P Drucker
Arndt, Selig, Sbaragli, Štybar

Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 33°C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and for links to feeds and streams.

21 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 18 Preview”

  1. Are there more wins from breakaways in GTs this year, or is it just my statistically unfounded impression? I remember the cycling podcast lads lamenting how no summit finish was won by a GC contender in the Tour this year.

      • Hmm, most sprint stages seem to have finished in a sprint. No breakaways there. This Vuelta it’s more there aren’t that much flat-out sprint stages.
        Wins from breakaways are becoming more frequent, it seems, because GC-contenders aren’t really concerned with stage wins. Maybe because controlling all stages is becoming harder for a single team. To keep domestiques from getting too much fatigued, you don’t order them to reel in the breakaway. This way you get two races in one stage: one for the stage win and one for the GC.

        Not to sure whether it is indeed the case that breakaways make it to the finish more often though. It just might be trickery of the mind. Does anyone have the numbers?

        • Point is that because of the parcours, the usual sprint-focused teams are not here with an interest in controlling the gaps to breakaways to try to ensure more stages end in a sprint

          • That’s sort of what I said. Even if the big sprint trains were here, we wouldn’t have seen more sprints. It’s not for the lack of sprinters, but because of the lack of sprint stages. Even with Greipel, Kittel, Cavendish, Kristoff, Bouhanni and Sagan, I don’t think we would have seen more bunch sprints. Parcours is the cause for both absence of top class sprinters and few sprints.

  2. The run in (or around and about) to Monday’s stage looked pretty hectic with Sky driving very hard on the fromt at times to protect Froome or to perhaps take a chance and force a split. Giant-Alpecin were also pretty keen but we’re working from what looked to me like quite a way out and in the twists and turns all the teams got mashed and mixed up into a sprinter soup from which Drucker appeared. If today’s finale is less of a blender then I would expect a straight up between Meersman and Arndt (that’s if the break can be brought back).

    For the DS at Sky tomorrow’s TT will be a lot about working out exactly how slow the team domestiques can get away with going ahead of Saturday

    • Seriously, Froome looks like he’s clinging on to his podium spot and the other big 3 for dear life. He may very well get some time on Quintana in the TT, but I dont think its going to be a massive 2-3 mins, and I cant see him having the legs to rip loads of time out of Quintana on Sat. Quintana also looking rock solid.

      • I agree 90-120 seconds of claw back is more realistic. But at least it sets up Saturday for a no doubt futile but hopefully spirited attempt to beat Quintna

      • Final GC:
        1: Quintana – dont expect him to loose more than 1:00-1:30 tomorrow
        2: Contador – He will be winthin 30 sec +/- tomorow
        3: Frome or Chaves – proberbly Froome but Chaves looks fresher for saturday.

        if the +90 riders would have been send home Frome wouldnt have had a chance of a podium.

    • Brailsford said in an interview that they had been hoping for crosswinds, to force a split and gain back some of Sunday’s losses. Wasn’t windy enough though.

  3. So Contador and his merry men are going to have a day off today, or watch Sky force splits if its windy! Somehow I don’t think so. These transition stages never throw up anything unusual do they.

Comments are closed.