Stage 7: Jódar - La Alpujarra 191.1 km
The mountain finales get serious for real.
The theme is the same roughly, an uncomplicated long approach to a finishing climb. Today though we see a more undulating terrain and the final climb is a long one. In two steps we start with a gently sloping six kilometers, take a four km flat breather and then the last nine km are uphill at something like 6-7%.
Not the toughest of climbs, quite gentle gradients for the most part even if it has a bit of a stinger that looks good for a final attack about two kms from the line.
This stage takes us into the Sierra Nevada national park, home of some of the highest roads in Spain. Just north of the days finish looms the Pico Veleta, the highest paved road in Europe. We won' get over 2000 meters today though.
Today will be the first real test for some of the less notable climbers. Will Tom Dumoulin be able to keep up with the best to stay close to the top of the GC for instance? Chaves should be able to continue cruising on the current form he has while we should see some of the bigger names like Nairo and Froome having to show their cards a little more.
Chavez could find himself in even more jerseys here as he looks to have a good chance of toppling Sagan but he might have a fight with Valverde on his hands for it.
Fraile's days are numbered if Chaves keeps his winning rampage up but otherwise odds are he gets to keep it for another day. Winner of the stage gets 10p and there are 3points available at the Cat 3 climb before.
Chaves will keep it unless he completely falls through. Not bloody likely.
Esteban Chaves is the slightly dull but likely pick once more isn't he. He's looking like a million bucks and the climb isn't that hard that it should draw out the really big guns. Anyways, until proven otherwise, Chaves is among the big guns in this race. Besides Chaves we should see Valverde in the front and could outsprint the other climbers for a stagewin. Maybe it's time for Fabio Aru to enter the stage as well on a day like this?