2022 Vuelta a España – Stage 14 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

A bunch sprint took place on the 13th stage, a calm day for the peloton who didn’t have a strong breakaway to chase down on the road into Montilla. The slightly uphill finish favoured some however, and Mads Pedersen took advantage of the situation to take a dominant and impressive win. He beat Bryan Coquard who was caught out of position into the sprint and Pascal Ackermann who made his move early on in search of an important win. 

Positive: Pedersen finally taking the win he’s been seeking. 

Negative: Nothing to note. 

The Route

The mountains of Andalusia will have a crucial role at this Vuelta. The final two stages of the second week will be highly mountainous, with two summit finishes that can change the outcome of the race completely.

This day will be perhaps the easiest of both, most will say. However not an easy feat in any way, with 3300 meters of climbing, most of them consolidated in the final half of the stage. The start in Montoro won’t have any meaningful ascent to cause trouble to the riders, that will come later in the day. 

As the riders head closer to Sierra de la Pandera they will find three hilltops, climbs that aren’t categorized but will be felt in the legs – specially of those who are not on a good day. The final ascent then can be described in several ways, however officially it is a string of ascents, the first being the Puerto de Los Villares which features 10 kilometers at 5.5% and summits with 11.8 kilometers to go, having bonus seconds available at the top. Due to the short descent that follows, which can be considered more as a small resting section, the climb to Sierra de la Pandera only starts officially afterwards.

It is 8.6 kilometers at 7.5%, significantly harder than the previous, with the addition of the accumulated fatigue. It’s an inconsistent climb, with gradients of over 10% in several sections and a clear section between 4.6 and 2.6 kilometers to go where it doesn’t come down from those ramps. It’s clear where the attacks should come mostly, as the ascent will then slightly come down, with an explosive final ramp set to decide the day’s winner. 

The Weather

The temperatures will be high, specially on such a dry and uncovered region of Andalucia. It will not be ean easy day out in the saddle, with some meaningful wind gusts from the west too making the first section of the stage a very fast one with tailwind, and the final ascent will also have it in it’s majority which supports attacks. 

Breakaway chances: 75%

It seems very clear that teams are not capable or willing to chase down breakaways in the mountain stages yet. Evenepoel shows no weakness and he’s got his win, so the GC is all that’s on the mind of most in the peloton. Although the start of the stage isn’t particularly hard, there are many climbers who will be on the move and to prevent a strong group from going up the road would be incredibly costy to any team trying to save their riders for the finale. 

The Favourites

Remco Evenepoel – So far so good. This will be a similar story to stage 12, however a steeper ascent. Evenepoel just has to stay in the wheel, and ideally not sprint as in the last summit finish as he should be racing conservatively. It will not be easy to drop him, he’ll hope to have the same legs. 

Primoz Roglic & Enric Mas – Again, I reckon both Roglic and Mas need to have some alliance to put Evenepoel under pressure. Their teams working hard in the final ascent, but most of all they need riders in the breakaway so that they try to bridge across to in the final ascent, it’s the best strategy they can do. Whether they can strike Evenepoel or not will mostly depend on the Belgian. 

Breakaway – As I’ve explained, the front group will have serious chances and a lot of riders will fight to be in front. It’s a pure climbers day, so expect only the very best to be able to succeed. By GC order, I would consider the following as capable of taking the win on the day: David de la Cruz, Louis Meintjes, Richard Carapaz, Hugh Carthy, Mark Padun, Jay Vine, Sergio Higuita, Thibaut Pinot, Rein Taaramae, Gino Mäder, Marc Soler, Sebastien Reichenbach, Élie Gesbert, Lucas Hamilton and Alexey Lutsenko

Miguel Angel Lopez has been showing rising form and I expect to see him come out this weekend and climb up the GC further as the climbs will suit him. It will be a second sub-plot in the GC fight, with Juan Ayuso under test as he’s currently got Covid-19, INEOS duo Carlos Rodriguez and Tao Geoghegan Hart, and the likes of João Almeida and Ben O’Connor to be between the outsiders who will fight for a stronger position on the day. 

Inside The Bus

This morning I talk to…

#5 Chris Harper – Stay with Primoz throughout the day, and mainly in the final climb. We expect a rise of pace, but let’s not leave him alone too early. It’s better to see how Evenepoel is looking, if he’s good than just stay in the wheel with Primoz; if he doesn’t then your job will be to give a short but sharp stint in the final kilometers. 

#17 Antoine Raugel – Stay in the pack and protect Ben. It’s valuable experience you’re getting here, so let’s keep up the good work whilst some of the other guys will be chasing breakaways. 

#74 Rudy Molard – We can’t miss the breakaway this time Rudy, stage 12 was an embarrassment! Thibaut and Sebastien look in good form, and you yourself have chances. We’ll try to get as many riders in front as possible, and if one of those two make it up there too than your job will be to attack early and allow them to rest – besides forcing others to work. 

Prediction Time

⭐⭐⭐De la Cruz, Padun, Pinot

⭐⭐Evenepoel, Mas, Vine, Soler, Taaramae

⭐Roglic, Ayuso, Ca.Rodriguez, MA.Lopez, Carapaz, Carthy, Higuita, Lutsenko, Gesbert, Reichenbach

(Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

I think it’s very clear that I believe in a breakaway win, this time one to be won by David De la Cruz who has been on rising form for the last few days and seems to be within range of making something special. 

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Rúben Silva

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