Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2016 – Stage 4 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2016 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

Orihuela – Xorret del Cati 141.3km

c valenciana 4

It’s been a big week of racing, with stages in Dubai and Spain. Forget about the rest, this is the best stage of the week. It might even be one of the best of the year. The reason? Xorret de Cati and 4km at 11%! Greg Henderson would call this a “mongrel of a climb” and he’s right.

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It last featured in the Vuelta in 2010, David Moncoutie was the winner. It’s one of those climbs that fans love, but riders hate. There is no hiding place and teammates mean very little. At this pace, drafting is no advantage. You have to grind up the hill as fast as you possibly can. This means that the big teams of Sky, Movistar and Astana don’t hold as much of an advantage over the others. Well, apart from having the best riders!

Before we reach the climb, the riders already have been over 3 climbs, 1 cat 3 and 2 cat 2s. It’s an important day for the KOM competition, expect to see Federico Burchio(GM) in the break as he attempts to wrestle the jersey away from Dan Martin.

With the stage being relatively short and many teams wanting the win, it looks bad news for the break. They will stay away until near the final climb, but they have very little chance of taking the stage. This is a day for the GC boys.


Wout Poels – Currently sitting in the overall lead after a brilliant TT and a solid display on stage 2. He is supported by a ridiculously strong team. He can count upon the help of Roche, Konig, Nieve and Intxausti. As I have already said, teammates won’t mean too much on this climb. If you are weak, you will be found out. If he falters, leadership will quickly be passed over to Leo Konig or Benat Intxausti. The Dutchman can perform well on steep climbs but I would say this stage suits Nieve best. That won’t work with Sky, as he is so far down on GC. Poels wants leadership opportunities and he has one. Expect him to fight to the death!

LL Sanchez – Steep slopes do suit Lulu. Riding for the superstars of Astana, he looks like their choice of leader. He can count on the help of Aru and Rosa, not bad domestiques! He is 15 seconds down on Poels, a gap that is nothing on a climb like this. Astana have plenty of options, as Rosa is only 22 seconds down. They will hope to have both men still at the front, near the top of the climb. They will then take it in turns to attack Team Sky. Easier said than done, on a hill like this.

Jesus Herrada – Just 26 seconds down, he is a real threat on GC. Movistar also have Javier Moreno and Ion Izagirre to help. They will hope to be in a similar position to Astana. If they can isolate Poels, he will have a horrible job in trying to close multiple attacks. Izagirre is their best climber, but in all honesty, they look a little weaker than Astana and Sky.

In terms of the GC battle, that’s it. It’s all about Sky v Astana v Movistar. With so many riders in the top 10, no other team has a hope. That doesn’t mean they can’t fight it out for the stage win.

Stage Hunters

Dan Martin – Already bagged one stage. Looking in great form and the steep slopes suit him down to the ground.

Jose Goncalves – Was eating these climbs for breakfast in the Vuelta. Has anything changed?

Victor de la Parte – New CCC signing. Just moved up from continental level, after a great 2015 which included winning the Tour of Austria. Serious talented climber and will be given freedom.

Dani Navarro – I know he doesn’t have a great chance, but thought I’d mention him anyway. Would be great to see him find his 2014 Vuelta form.

Davide Formolo – Loves the steep stuff! Remember his brilliant win in the Giro? Now, it’s much easier to do that from the breakaway. Doing it from the main group, is a different level of rider. Still just a baby, 23 years old, he has all the potential. 2016 has to be his big year, if he wants to move to one of the top teams. Has a great chance of taking this stage.

Tom Jelte Slagter – As I have previously said, I am a massive fan of Slagter. After a period of poor results, he ended 2015 well and looks to have started 2016 in the same fashion. This climb is right on his limit, but steep slopes are good for him. He has the quality, hopefully he can hang with the big boys of Sky and Astana!

Prediction Time

Looks like being Sky, Astana, Movistar, Etixx and Cannondale. After his impressive performance on Thursday, I think Dan Martin is looking great. He’s not really in the GC battle, so could get some freedom.

David Hunter

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