A route for the breakaway to get reeled in but which teams will do the reeling? Very few so it should be a day for the breakaway.
The Route: 150km and after a brief descent they hit the Alto de la Colladona, generously awarded first category status with 7km at 6.8% and a good chance for David Vilella to take more precious points. The next two climbs are comparable in either length or gradient.
The last climb of the day is the Alto de San Martín de Huerce, 4.5km at 7.2% but after a gentle start there’s a solid middle kilometre of 12% average with even steeper moments, an ideal launchpad for any strong climbers with just 15km left.
The Finish: a fast finish down into Gijon and a finish by the beach. It’s big boulevards in town and if there’s a bend to the left within the final kilometre it’s around a large, engineered roundabout, the kind that can be taken at speed.
The Contenders: on paper a sprint as a breakaway goes and gets gradually reeled in. Only who will do the reeling? There were few sprinters to start with in the race and now even fewer given Degenkolb, Debusschere and Van Genechten have gone home. Instead the teams chasing could be those who missed the move given opportunities are fast running out for all. So it all points to a breakaway staying clear.
Who wins? Matteo Trentin can go in the break rather than wait for the sprint but did this yesterday so he could be tired, the same for team mate Julian Alaphilippe. Tomasz Marczyński could try for a third and this kind of terrain could suit team mate Adam Hansen. Otherwise today’s lottery picks are L-L Sanchez (Astana), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural) and Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis) but print your own startlist and throw darts at it and see who you pick.
|Trentin, L-L Sanchez
Weather: sunshine and some clouds, a top temperature of 22°C at the finish but cooler inland and over the climbs.
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 finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: Is it a good idea to start a grand tour stage in a natural park? The news coverage might, or might not, compensate the environmental impact (Lutra lutra and Ursus arctos specimens will be happy to watch the race go away). Anyway, ask the cyclists and they won’t be excited to travel over 2h30’ from yesterday’s finish to today’s departure. This is the second longest transfer in this year’s Vuelta a España. Cuenca-Hellín (stages 7-8) cost them over 2h20’, and Angliru-Arroyomolinos (stages 20-21) will go beyond 4h40’. The second rest day (Sierra Nevada-Logroño) meant over 7h50’ on the team bus. The cyclists spend more time travelling from one place to another than actually racing, at least some days. Does this happen more often in Spain than in Italy or France?
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel