Vuelta a España Stage 19 Preview

A short stage with a summit finish of sorts, selective enough to eject the sprinters but ideal for Alejandro Valverde to go for the time bonus although the breakaway hunters will

Where’s Wallays? A breakaway of three with Jetse Bol, Jelle Wallays and Sven Erik Bystøm who were all evenly matched but it looked like a fruitless move. Kept on a tight rein, they never had much more than two minutes but all three are strong riders and even matched. Bol lost contact in the finish when cornering on a roundabout. The time gaps on TV were out by a few seconds, it looked like the bunch was closing in but they were a bit further away and the panic in the peloton was visible as team mates were flailing at the pedals in vain. Wallays timed his sprint and held off the pack. If you ever wonder why riders go up the road in no-hope breakaways it’s days like this.

The Route: 154km into Andorra. It’s a short stage and a direct approach, there are hardly any foothills to scale as they ride up the Segre valley.

The Finish: the Coll de la Rabassa has featured several times in recent editions of the Vuelta but not as a finish since 2008. It’s a ski station access road meaning it’s wide and if the profile does signal steep slopes at the start it’s taking the inside line on some bends through town and is otherwise more gentle. Still the first 7km – with the exception of the second kilometre – are hard going and selective, the bunch can be thinned down a lot here. Beyond this the slope eases and at times this is a big ring climb. The final kilometre sees the road kick up and it’s 6% to the line.

The Contenders: the default pick is Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as this is a sprint at the top of a mountain and he will fancy his chances against Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in order to get the time bonus although Yates has a good chance too. It’s not that they’re certain to win, more that they should if they’re in contention.

Otherwise it’s a good day for the breakaway because many of the big names and teams will be worried about tomorrow’s crucial stage. The likes of Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Gianluca Brambilla and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac) come to mind, although they’ve all tried but not succeeded so far. Alex Geniez (Ag2r La Mondiale), Ben King (Dimension Data) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) have proven more succesful could be in the mix. On paper the stage suits Omar Fraile too but he could be on duty for Astana and his leader Lopez. Several riders from BMC like Alessandro de Marchi look strong too.

Alejandro Valverde, Simon Yates
de Marchi, Majka, Rolland, Mollema, Kwiakowski

Weather: sunshine and a warm 28°C in the plains to start with, you can half the number for the mountainous part later.

Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST and they’ll start climbing around 5.10pm.

41 thoughts on “Vuelta a España Stage 19 Preview”

  1. I always enjoy seeing a win from the break. Especially so on a day for the sprinters !

    I would not be surprised to see Aquastar keep this close to give the Green Bullet a shot at a time bonus.

  2. GC top 5 unchanged today. Astana or Lotto stage win today.
    Final: Yates remains final winner. Lopez 2nd. 3rd uncertainty. Valverde dropped within top 8.

      • Just out of interest why Valverde dropped our of Top7?

        Valverde performance Wednesday I thought was pretty spectacular… he attacked hard in the first KM and then went onto take time from Yates at the end despite the pace of MitchScott having dropped Quintana and Kruijswijk…

        Seemed quite ominous, my thoughts were if he could hold on today (as I agree he’s not as strong on these longer climbs) then there’s every chance he could win as tomorrow’s final climb is short but hard but 25secs+timebonus’ isn’t inconceivable to overhaul.

        • I meant to say ‘ Valverde dropped within top 8. ‘ That is a final result as I would predict in the end, not a result of Friday’s.
          Friday stage : Valverde probably will maintain a top 5 standing. Sprinter Jersey for him at such a latter stage already put me in awe. At 38(?) Valverde already earned himself medals of honour for all general classifications in all GTs.

          • I wish I could watch every single race here too. But no. Eurosport signals not carried here by any provider. Cycling has always received a less welcoming social approval. And probably many of you never visited HK as well to see how compact every road corners are.

    • Don’t think this is a bad shout…
      Final climb definitely too long… but tomorrow isn’t easy, and the Col De Gallina is about 8km long from what I can see but ESP category which means I assume it’s got super steep sections which wouldn’t suit Cummings either…

  3. Absolutely loved the last 20k of the stage, until that point I’d been in slumber mode just waiting for the sprint but slowly got more and more excited. I still didn’t think they’d make it but was just so pleased for them. As you say Inrng this is why people try.

    Interestingly I was watching this whilst reading Full Gas : How to Win a Bike Race – Tactics from Inside the Peloton by Peter Cossins which I’d thoroughly recommend. Great insight by Thomas de Gendt on the skill, tactics and bluffing involved in a breakaway which was brilliantly demonstrated on this stage.

    • It was a great end to the stage , I watched it after been told the result and still couldn’t believe that Wallays won it seemed so unlikely with such a small time gap at 20k to go

      • This is what surprised me, as it looked like game over really and it struck me as well a comment made by rider the other day where he said it was the Peloton that decides if a breakaway wins or not, which is true in the main I guess but on a stage like this they didn’t want them to win it but did.

        What do you think caused it? Quick step not wanting to go full gas with keeping some of their powder dry to support Mas in their mind? This with other teams hesitation to take up the chase just giving enough space to keep away.

        Lovely stuff!

  4. Ooooohhhh…. very excited for this.
    154km, 17KM climb to finish with the steep stuff at the end…. what’s not to love?

    I was trying to remember on these short stages whether an early is what split things up in the past?
    Sure there was the times Contador broke things up… so assume things will stay together till the final assault?

    In that case, would it be right to say MitchScott would like to let a break go and Movistar likely wouldn’t, as if Val’s on form he’s likely to nab a time bonus, whereas Simon probably doesn’t need to bring that into play given he already has the advantage? Astana may make that choice for them I guess…

    I like how the steep stuff is at the beginning of this climb, hopefully means fireworks early on?

    Best tactic for Yates is too defend till the end and attack if he sees weakness?
    Best tactic for Val is to go for the win and keep Yates in sight till the final 500metres?

  5. With some hesitancy, I offer the thought that race radio and TV time intervals influenced the outcome between the lead two. Wallays said he was told they had enough time with 3km to go and I infer he was then able to game Bystøm who perhaps didn’t. Not normally what race radio gets ‘blamed’ for.

    • Apparently there was also a very strong tailwind for much of the day which probably led the bunch to oversestimate the powers spent by the break. Additionally I’d also wager that QS gambled a bit, having bagged two stages already and needing to protect Mas they probably didn’t commit 100% to the chase. And then there was the roundabout in the very final which messed up the the lead-outs for both Sagan and Viviani.
      Kudos to Bystrom and Wallays for giving it their all (which is a LOT in their case!) but they also benefited from a lot of unconnected factors falling into their favour.
      Link INRNG said, this is why the chancers keep going, every once in a while the mould is broken

  6. The finish yesterday was a bit bizarre though the break needs to win occasionally simply to encourage riders to bother putting in all that effort.

    We shall see what happens but I think this race in Simon Yate’s to losse

  7. Two stages to go and its Valverde against Yates, Movistar against Mitchelton Scott. I find this tactically interesting because Mitchelton have dropped the ball before and never won a grand tour yet and Movistar… are Movistar and thus labouring under the burden of Unzue’s ineptitude. Ironically, Quintana might now get a win, as in the Tour, because he lacks any GC threat. Yates should either stick to Valverde or, if he’s up to it after all this apparent learning he has done post-Giro, defend by attacking and riding to his own plan. One thing I would do if I were the Australian team is make sure the break wins. Valverde should not be given a sniff of bonus seconds.

    PS to answer a question from yesterday’s comments the UK would be the first country to hold all three grand tours in the same year with three different riders if Yates pulls it off. British domination, how that must please you all.

        • I’ve thought for a long time those criticising Unzue and Movistar’s tactics was a little rich, ie you do it better! But I have to admit… recently… wow… and today was a real low…

          The only thing I can think is it was a bluff, and they knew Valverde was feeling bad, but then again Quintana attacked so that doesn’t make sense? Unless that was a super bluff and they never saw Yates attacking having dropped time the other day…?

          It just seems barmy what happened today.

          • As usual, please tell us all how YOU would have organized Movistar to come up with a different result. Way too many on this forum act like a guy could easily win if he wanted it enough or …
            Better yet, tell us how they should race tomorrow, so you have the same hindsight as Unzue and Co. Then we’ll hope they do it just that way and see what happens and how smart you guyr really are.
            Is it video games, fantasy cycling leagues or something else that enable these armchair directors to delude themselves into thinking they could do it better than guys who have decades of experience, many as former pro racers themselves? I’m puzzled.

  8. Very easy to say with hindsight, but watching the highlights it was clear the breakaway had a chance from about 40km out. The peloton was in single file and not taking any time out of them, and then on the flat you saw the breakaway spinning out at c.60km.

    Again, all with hindsight – the tailwind, gearing and city centre roads in the final kms really helped the breakaway pull this off.

  9. King John V whatever you are, I never judge a person to be a pillock without ever having met them personally, but on this occasion you prove to be my exception.

Comments are closed.