Ah, I’ve not seen much of the Vuelta this year, I’ve had other commitments, none of which are quite as important as professional cycling as far as I’m concerned. To others, however, cycling must bow at the feet of these other pursuits and I, unfortunately, am nobody to show them the truth. It is fitting and comforting, however, to return to previewing on such a recognisable Vuelta stage. What do I mean by that? Well, a tough weekend mountain day with short sharp climbs sounds pretty Vuelta to me. One where every second is sure to count in the GC battle? Well, that’s just welcome regardless.
The route itself is acceptable for a mountain stage, with the early climbs more likely to be leg-softeners than anything else. The ten kilometres before the final climb will probably nix any long-range attacks and it will be up to the final climb to split up the GC group. That final climb is new to the race and goes by the name of
The ten kilometres before the final climb will probably nix any long-range attacks and it will be up to the final climb to split up the GC group. That final climb is new to the race and goes by the name of the Alto Les Praeres:
I think the profile is all that does this climb justice. Me calling it “tough” or “leg-breaking isn’t getting any further than looking at the profile. Higher percentages than Gianni Savio’s homebrew, over ten per cent for almost all of the four kilometres. I can see Adam Yates launching at the steep part, but this is not a stage that really should crack the general classification wide apart. Herrada may survive another day, as I see the peloton taking a well - not leisurely, but more relaxed than rapid pace throughout the stage, and for there to be another breakaway win.
Who’ll be in that breakaway? Ben King is a tempting pick, but his tenth place finish today shows that his unbelievably good first week may understandably not carry on further. Richard Carapaz is my pick for the stage. His legs from the Giro clearly have not disappeared in totality, and I’m hoping his form will reappear on the final slopes.
As for the GC race, I can see Yates moving closer to Herrada, but for the Cofidis rider to survive another day.