An uphill finish that’s made for Peter Sagan, the Slovak has had a slow start to the race but popped up to take second place yesterday. Meanwhile the main GC contenders will try to rest ahead of tomorrow’s big summit finish.
Ace in the hole: revenge may be a dish best served cold but Tony Gallopin took what he could in the searing heat. After breaking a rib in the French championships and then leaving the Tour de France midway, he made amends with a punchy stage win, the end to a lively stage finish with attacks galore. There was crashes too on the narrow road above Ceal both on the rough ascent and the twisty descent with Michael Woods the last breakaway rider to get reeled in, the catch delayed by a crash. After flurry of moves Jesus Herrada went solo on the road into El Pozo Alcon but struggled to get a gap and Gallopin countered, got across for a brief moment in the slipstream and powered on with the chasing group behind lacking enough support riders to close the gap, Rafał Majka did a long turn for Peter Sagan but this only helped the Frenchman push out his lead. Among the crashes was Michał Kwiatkowski who lost a little time and didn’t have any team mates to help.
The Route: 195km to the town of Almaden, famous for its mercury mines which are now a tourist attraction. The Alto de Espenares is a gradual climb.
The Finish: it’s uphill in the final kilometres but no more than 3% and all on a big wide road before a brief dip and then 2km at 4% to go under the 1km to go banner. Then comes a tight 180 degree bend and a 6-7% ramp to a hairpin and from the exit it’s 300m to the line at 5-6% before easing to the line.
The Contenders: Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had a slow start to the Vuelta but coped fine with the climbing yesterday and then overhauled Alejandro Valverde, also a contender, in the uphill finish and here’s a finish to suit him even more.
Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) can be quick in a sprint too and should be more confident. But his problem is that if he’s present, he’ll also find the likes of, Sagan, Valverde and Michał Kwiatkowski. Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) can feature in uphill finishes like this but it might not be steep enough for him. We’ll see if Matteo Trentin, Nacer Bouhanni and Elia Viviani can contest, the three fastest sprinters in the race but also versatile riders too.
This is the Vuelta so the breakaway has a chance. Tomorrow is the first big mountain stage so several breakaway specialists will be waiting for that… and some heavier riders will try today instead, think Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) or Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo).
|Elia Viviani, Matteo Trentin, Alejandro Valverde|
|Kwiatkowski, Gallopin, Teuns, Bouhanni|
Weather: warm and sunny, 34°C and a light tailwind for much of the stage.
Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.