By David Hunter
Barcelona > Barcelona 133.5km
To Barcelona we go.
We always end with this stage, but this year the organisers have made it more difficult.
Another lovely day for the bunch.
Soon after the start of the stage the riders climb Coll de la Creu d’Ordal, which is 5.6km at 4.6%. Then the bunch head back to Barcelona for the Montjuïc circuit.
The change to the circuit means a lot more climbing. Once over the initial lump, the bunch head left and start to climb up to the castle.
The new section is 700m at 12.3%, with a maximum of 16.2%. It has to be climbed on six occasions; this should be fun. The circuit still contains the very fast descents which some riders can use to their advantage, but the new section swings it more in favour of the climbers.
Ineos have an iron grip of this race, they have Yates, Porte and Thomas occupying the podium positions. Valverde is the rider in fourth place, he’s 14 seconds behind third place, Ineos will be watching him closely. Realistically, Adam Yates is secure in the race lead, something very special would have to happen for him to lose this race. I don’t think Ineos will want Valverde, Kelderman or Chaves to get away from the peloton, but they won’t be chasing anyone else. This opens the door to riders a little further down the top 10 to try and claim a stage win, as long as the break doesn’t take the day.
Breakaways have been successful here in two of the last five editions, much will depend on the attitude of Movistar. If they go for the break, I think it will be successful, but they might want to race for a Valverde win. This circuit is also good for a late attack to stick. If the race is hard, most domestiques get dropped, which means not many riders are left to do the chasing. This is why it’s such a good stage, all three options have a chance of success.
So what’s going to happen. I think a big break will escape on the first climb, but will it contain a rider who is a threat on GC? If not, the break wins. If yes, an attack on the circuit will take the day.
DS Cycling Mole
For this stage I’m off to Ineos.
Right boys time for the big day. Lukey, you get to patrol the morning break. I want no one there that’s inside 4 minutes on Yatesy. After that we can sit in the bunch and chill until the lap circuit. No doubt Movistar will try some crazy shit, but we have the riders to deal with it. We don’t need to cover all the moves, just from those in the top 10. If the other teams want to bring it all back together, then we get to have some fun. Yatesy, smash the climb up to the castle and take another win.
Alejandro Valverde – he’s clearly in good form, but winning this one is going to be very complicated. The problem is that his attacks will be covered by Ineos, which means he has to hope that the stage ends in a sprint finish. He might have the legs, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
Michael Woods – the Canadian will love the ramps up to the castle, he’s one of the best in the world when the gradient goes over 10%. He came into the race after pulling out of Tirreno due to having a bad cold, but the previous stages have shown that his current form is good. He’s not a big threat on GC, so he could get a little freedom, but that’s not guaranteed.
Adam Yates – clearly the best rider in the bunch, but will we see Ineos go for another stage win? They won’t chase the break, but if others team set up a GC battle, Yates will be more than happy to go for his second stage of the week. Remember he’s brilliant on steep slopes, this is a rider who’s won San Sebastian and gave Roglič a kicking in Tirreno. The section up to the castle is perfect for him to drop everyone else.
Dan Martin – breakaway hopeful number 1.
Luis León Sánchez – breakaway hopeful number 2.
Lenny Kämna – breakaway hopeful number 3.
James Knox – breakaway hopeful number 4.
Ruben Guerreiro – breakaway hopeful number 5.
Does anyone really know how Movistar will approach this stage? They’ll likely get a man in the break, then decide to chase it down to set up Valverde. If the winner comes from the GC group I’ll take another win for Adam Yates.
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