Linares to Almadén - 195.1 kilometers
A relatively straightforward day (for the Vuelta) except for a tricky finish.
What did we learn from Stage 7?
The rumors of Tony Gallopin’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Stage 7 saw Gallopin get his first victory since February (and eat his vds donut) after he escaped from the group of the favorites (+ Sagan) to take the win. Almost all the bigs maintained their position, except for Kwiatowski who suffered a crash in the last kilometers and lost 30 seconds.
What’s Stage 8 About?
ASO had to give the riders something to do before the summit finish on Covatilla on Sunday. So they figured they’d throw a bone to the sprinters, except some rat bastard anti-sprinter psychotic decided to throw in a rather difficult uphill finish to the stage, making it par for course in this edition of the Vuelta— a stage that could be won by the sprinters, by the breakaway, or by the GC contenders.
Good luck trying to figure out this stage from the map and the profile. Here’s the gradients for the final 7 kilometers:
More importantly, at least according to the omniscient Googles, this is what the climb to the finish looks like:
The image is from 2008, so it’s possible the road has been paved over in the meantime, but it looks like a pretty gnarly climb.
Did You Know?
It’s going to be hot tomorrow- the forecast is calling for temperatures to reach 98 degrees F. If you want to confirm that temperature with an old school thermometer, you’ll likely be using mercury that came from the finishing town of Almadén, which is historically the largest supplier of mercury in the world, with some 250,000 tons being mined from the area during the last 2 millennia. For two of the most productive centuries, the mines were run by a German family- the Fuggers of Augsburg. These Fuggers used convict labor in the mines, with almost a quarter of the convicts dying from mercury poisoning. Fortunately, the Spanish government eventually shut the fugging mine down and it is now a tourist site.
Who Will Win?
I think the finale is too hard for any of the sprinters except for Peter Sagan. Sagan has looked like he has been re-finding his form over the past few stages, finishing second yesterday in a much harder finale. If so, he is the overwhelming favorite for this stage. His closest rival in a stage like this is probably Alejandro Valverde who may have an advantage over Sagan as the run-in to the finish is uphill and the final slope to the line approaches a nine percent gradient. Those picks are too easy for this Vuelta, so let’s go with Dylan Teuns getting his first win of the season for his terminal BMC.