Vuelta a España Stage 7 Preview

A breakaway or a bunch sprint? Today’s stage isn’t as hard as a profile suggests but it’s more difficult that the roadbook says. Which might just suit the breakaway…

Torque that: an early break with a difference, Richie Porte decided to play cannon fodder for a day, a chance to stretch the legs, show the jersey and prove he’s back in the race. He and two others were duly caught. The forecast wind got up and then a late crash made the peloton more nervous and probably roused thousands from their siesta as the action started. The flat terrain and crosswind were perfectly exploited in the final kilometres by Quick Step and Bora-Hansgrohe but if they split the bunch it only caught out Thibaut Pinot and Wilco Kelderman, the latter undone by a broken wheel. In the end Nacer Bouhanni won, avenging the “fake news” story of the morning that he’d banged on the team car – real story, he took a sticky bottle – and that’s often his way as he wins when his back is up against the wall. Finally Cofidis get the World Tour win they and their €10 million budget have been chasing and based on the sprint Bouhanni could well strike again.

The Route: 185km and 2,115 metres of vertical gain according to the roadbook… but 2,600 vertical metres if you trace the route yourself. After 135km the race reaches Pozo Alcón and crosses the finish the wrong way to head out on a loop and heads south for 10km on the main road. Then it turns and takes a small road north before reaching a bigger road for the run to the foot of the climb of the day, the Alto de Ceal. Listed as 4.5km at 5.4% it’s really a 6km climb and there’s a steep and twisty section but it’s short before the race picks up the road back into town.

The Finish: the profile says it’s uphill to the line for 5km – there’s a theme here – but it’s barely a drag up, we’re talking 1-2% until the final corner when with 300m to go and it kicks up at 3% to the line.

The Contenders: a breakaway or sprint? This should be another chance for the sprinters, the terrain is hard going but there aren’t the obvious set piece places to tempt the climbers. So for a breakaway think of the baroudeurs like Alexis Gougeard, Thomas de Gendt and Simon Clarke again while perhaps the likes of Alessandro de Marchi and Bauke Mollema hold tight ahead of the mountains this weekend.

If not then Elia Viviani and Quick Step will be keen to make amends for messing up the sprint finish yesterday, the Italian was too far back but still showed speed in the final 50 metres. Nacer Bouhanni should be close again while all the climbing might blunt the legs of Danny van Poppel. Matteo Trentin and Mitchelton-Scott may see today as the perfect chance given the hilly finish and uphill run to the line while UAE-Emirates Simone Consonni is an Italian version of Brian Coquard, 60kg of pure speed.

Elia Viviani, Nacer Bouhanni, Matteo Trentin
Nizzolo, Consonni, De Gendt, Clarke

Weather: hot and sunny, 33°C

Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.

22 thoughts on “Vuelta a España Stage 7 Preview”

  1. Sagan was up in the top 10 yesterday, with an up hill finish (even if it’s a gentle one) would he not be worth a single chain ring perhaps. He will be in the mix for sure.

    I couldn’t figure what went wrong for QSF in yesterday’s run in, super chaotic with Bora, Cofidis and narrow roads at times. I saw Nibali on the front of the peloton driving the chase earlier, if he is starting to feel a bit better then the second week will hopefully look up as it’s not quite hooked me yet

    • Good call on Sagan. He still doesn’t seem to be his usual self, but clearly he’s steadily improving, and even if he can sprint with the sprinters, he can do the easy climbs and out-sprint the climbers.

  2. Its good that the wins get shared around. Nacer Bouhani doesnt help himself at times but has also suffered from a fair amount of bad luck. Another 10 m might have seen Elia Viviani snatch it at the line.

    • Chaps on tv last night suggested that the win could be career-saving for Bouhanni after his various troubles.
      Another one today certainly wouldn’t go amiss too.
      I’ve always liked him as a rider, I like the edge he brings to his sprinting and I hope he repeats the victory today.

  3. Viviani got badly detached on the very odd 360 roundabout just before the line. Entertaining stage made more entertaining by the panicky CK and SK who couldn’t see Yates and Mollard in the break

  4. Thank you for your insight, especially now the Guardian seems to have given up the coverage after Stage 4. I’m interested in your comment about Bouhanni saving Cofidis investment, I understand Stage wins are what lots of us watch for but their man Mate holds the Polka Dot jersey and has since Stage 1. So what’s the pecking order between a stage win and classification jersey? Is the problem that wearing the dots mean you can’t see the sponsor’s logo so clearly?

    • We’ve only seen a fraction of the climbing so far. Mate is unlikely to be wearing the polka dot jersey in a couple of weeks so it’s largely meaningless. Bouhanni’s stage win yesterday was against some quality opposition so carries more prestige.

    • You know what a Bouhanni costs for the team and what Mate costs? The first one better should deliver for all the investment. Which he doesn’t, always more in the news for unsporting stories rather than victories.

  5. The last climb is significantly harder than the Poggio and with not much downhill to recover before it drags up again all the way to the line I really cant see the flat sprint boys being there. If they take the climb really easy then the last 5km should be perfect for Trentin if they dont then it could be nearly anyone. If Sagan was in shape then his name is written all over this stage from the break or the bunch.

      • I’m backing Jelle Wallays for today. He was surprisingly strong on that mountainous stage 4, today seems suitable for a strong classics specialist with some finishing skills. Trentin, Kwiat and numerous others fit that mould too of course.

  6. Really can’t see a bunch sprint here today; those final 20 kilometres are too difficult to control and too hard for the pure sprinters.

    Suspect a strong group will form and they will decide the stage win, with the likes of Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Yates at the front of a (small) peloton a few minutes behind.

    • Seems to be only marginally better in form than Sagan and certainly worse surrounded by team-mates. I wouldn’t rule him out but I’m afraid he’ll be struggling all the Vuelta through. In the sprint yesterday he already showed signs of frustration. He’ll come good next year if he has a quiet winter.

      • Points noted. ON Form is somehow difficult to evaluate at times. One day Yates took that many stage wins, at certain point raced like a different person. I was just hinging on his frustrations at finish line with all elites ahead of him. Odds usually yield a higher return. Most of the time you lose unfortunately.

  7. Nice win by Gallopin. This Vuelta is truly wide open – Rudy Molard stands alone at the top and the next fifteen (!?!) riders are within a minute of each other. And no DNFs after a week of racing.

  8. I’m curious what Richie Porte is doing now. He got caught out on stage 2, but since has finished 15 min. back on a couple stages. Is he not able to hold the pace or is he resting for a stage win later on?

Comments are closed.