Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 7 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 7 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 6 Recap

Another 2 man break, with KOM leader Mas and the crazy, Pim Ligthart. They got a lead of 13 minutes, but the peloton had the situation under control. On the climb, a variety of teams set the pace, but with 2km to go, Alejandro Valverde, put the hurt on. He set a fierce pace that put most riders into trouble. With 500 metres to go, Rodriguez put in a big attack, but Valverde followed him. Froome, slowly, managed to drag him, Contador and Quintana across and went for the sprint. Valverde timed his sprint to perfection, taking a wonderful win in Andalucia. He really does love this place! Froome was second and Contador third. As expected, Quintana, wasn’t quite at the pace of the favourites. Unexpectedly, Moreno and Martin had very poor days.

Stage 7 Alhendin – Alcaudete 169km

A day for the break.

ve7I took one look at the profile and it screamed one thing…… BREAKAWAY!

ve7aYes, we only have 2 categorised climbs, but this is a classic profile for a break. The constant, up and down nature, is great for a break to establish a big lead. Add into the mix, the extreme heat and the difficulty of stage 6 and it looks very promising for the break.

Movistar are back in control, with Valverde, and will have no interest in chasing down the break. The climbs and the uphill finish will discourage the sprinters from ordering their teams to the front.

After stage 6, we now have a large number of riders well down on GC, they’ll all be keen on getting in the break, so it might take a while to form.

The climbs are the Alto de Illora, 6.8km at 6.6% and the Alto Ahillo, 12.1km at 4%. This cat 2 climb sounds fairly tame, but the climb goes up in steps, with some steep gradients. It has a very inconsistent gradient, but does regularly reach near 10%. This will be a hard climb for many riders. Too hard for a lot of sprinters. We also have an uphill finish to deal with. After the first ascent of the climb, they loop round and the finishing line, is half way up the climb, again.

ve7bThe final 2.2km, rises at an average of 3.9%. This is a challenging end to the day. Even harder than it is the approach to this point. There are 2, short and steep climbs. They are at 154.4km at 163km. Both include ramps in double digits and make this stage very difficult. From 5.6km to go, until 5km to go, we have a section at an average of 7.6%. If the race is together, the final 6km will be very hard to control, with plenty of attacks off the front.

We need to consider a few scenarios.

1. A break succeeds, as previously explained. It will probably be a break of around 10 riders and will feature Caja Rural! The winner will get away, in the final 15km of the stage.

2. The break fails and the peloton approaches the end of the stage together. Many will try to attack, in the final 15km, including GC riders.

3. We get a small bunch sprint. Sprinters will be thin on the ground, opening the way for a quick all rounder, but Matthews and Degenkolb could still be there.

To win from the break, you have to be able to cope with the climbs. That narrows the options:-

Lampre – Conti, Serpa

AG2R – Bouet

Astana – x

Belkin – Clement

BMC – Quinziato, Wyss

Caja Rural – Aramendia, Txurruka, LL Sanchez

Cannondale – De Marchi

Garmin – Haas

Giant – Frohlinger

IAM – Tschopp

Katusha – x

Lotto – Hansen

Movistar – x

MTN – Teklehaimanot

OPQS – Martin, Verona, Brambilla

Orica – Clarke. Santaromita, Yates

Sky – x

Tinkoff – x

Trek – Arredondo, Jungels

The GC teams will be reluctant to join the break, as they’ll want all their riders to recharge their batteries.

If we get a sprint, Matthews will be there but most of the others won’t. The stage looks on the limit of Degenkolb’s capabilities. Philippe Gilbert will also be looking on with interest, this finish really suits him.

Prediction time….

The break will make it and Adam Hansen will take the glory.

David Hunter

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