Tuesday’s stage won’t decide the winner of the 2017 Vuelta. It probably won’t have much impact on the standings at all. So the long, steady category one climb is included because… well, because they can.
What’s it about?
After a much-needed rest day, the Vuelta returns to action with a 165km stage that includes a long, steady climb and then a long, steady descent. This one is going to hurt some legs but it seems unlikely that it’ll have much impact on the overall standings. The climb of Collado Bernejo is officially 7.7km at 6.5%, but it comes very shortly after the 5.7km, 5.7% Alto del Morrón de Totana, making it effectively a 13km or so drag. There are 20km or so of mostly downhill racing after the summit and it is hard to envision any major gaps between the GC contenders. This one is for the breakaway, folks.
Did you know?
The peloton will pass through Lorca midway through this stage, a town with an extraordinary past. Famed in recent years for earthquake and flood damage, it was a frontier town in the wars between the Moors and the Murcians and Castillians. The Church of St Patrick, the main church in the town and the picture you clicked on, is named thus because the Battle of Los Alporchones was fought on St Patrick’s Day, 1542. The victory by the combined Murcian and Castillian forces effectively ended Moorish incursions north from Grenada for five years. St Patrick is still the Patron Saint of Murcia, although you hear more about his connections with Ireland.
Pick to win
I really don’t know. I’d imagine a pretty strong break will go clear and the GC boys won’t bring it back. This is the kind of stage that is almost impossible to predict, so let’s work laterally. No Spanish rider has won a stage yet. Movistar have a team without a clear leader and will be looking for stage success. Everyone loves a local boy.
Antonio Pedrero is (a) Spanish, (b) a Movistar rider, (c) from Murcia, just up the road from the finish, (d) talented enough to win a stage, (e) nowhere near overall contention.
He’s my pick.