The weekend offers two hard mountain stages starting with the major summit finish of La Pandera, a one time military road.
Stage 13 Review: a strong breakaway with the likes of Thomas De Gendt, Alexis Gougeard and Alessandro De Marchi but the inevitable sprint finish arrived. Matteo Trentin won but had little opposition and his team were impressive, no wonder when talents like Bob Jungels and Julian Alaphilippe are working on an uphill finish. The hilly finale meant the top-10 had as many GC contenders as it did sprinters and Chris Froome’s “bodyguard” Gianni Moscon ran Trentin a close second, the two Italians live very close to each other in the Italian Alps. A few time gaps opened up and some GC contenders lost a handful of seconds with David de la Cruz slipping from fourth to sixth overall.
The Route: 175km all leading to the day’s big summit finish. The second category “Alto Valdepeñas de Jaén” is known locally as the Puerto de Locubín and listed as 8.5km at 4.8% and includes some 7% slopes but is mainly a gentle climb followed by a fast and sweeping descent.
The Finish: the Sierra de la Pandera is one of the Vuelta’s modern classics, first used in 2002 and four times in total before today, although there are two approach roads, one to the north and one from the south. It’s listed as 12km at 7.3% which would be a hard climb if it was a steady ascent but as the profile shows this is an irregular climb with several double-digit passages including one kilometre at 12% with 4km to go and sections at 15% and all on a modest road surface. It dips over the top before a final kick up to the line.
The Contenders: Chris Froome and Alberto Contador come to mind. This is a crucial stage for Esteban Chaves too, was his relatively poor performance to Calar Alto down to the cold or has he not got it on the long climbs? We’ll soon see.
Otherwise Miguel Ángel López and Vincenzo Nibali should be close. They seem to be closing the gap to Contador and Froome in terms of climbing speeds with Fabio Aru close but not looking incisive. The steep slopes suit Michael Woods over others like Wilco Kelderman.
The breakaway has a chance here with Romain Bardet, Paweł Poljański, Rafał Majka, Jan Polanc and now Adam Yates are obvious picks.
|Chris Froome, Alberto Contador
|Miguel Ángel López, Vincenzo Nibali, Esteban Chaves
|Woods, Zakarin, Bardet, Poljański, Majka, Polanc, A Yates
Weather: warm sunshine and a few clouds, a top temperature of 35°C.
TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. The climbing starts at 4.50pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: Who likes Geology? The last couple of years Unipublic (the Vuelta organisers) give an insight on the rocks that will be found each stage. Scroll down to the bottom of the website and you’ll learn what a polje is. Otherwise, check the meaning of river delta (stage 1), anticline (stage 4), karst (stage 6), syncline (stage 17), estuary (stage 17) and orogeny (stage 20). Turning to social sciences, km 19 and the race speeds across Marinaleda, ruled by eccentric mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo. Is this the communist utopia The Guardian talks about? It depends on who you ask. In the last local elections (May 2015) the ruling party got over 70 % of the votes.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel