By David Hunter
Coín – Tomares 198.4km
The peloton race between two of the major cities in the South, we start near Malaga and finish just outside Sevilla.
You could be mistaken for thinking this was a dream! We have a sprint stage.
Of course, sprint stages are never easy in the Vuelta, and this is no exception. We open with a long climb, officially it is 7.2km at 4.4%, but the bunch are climbing for most of the opening 27km. This will be enough to tease out a break, it might actually be rather large. Could the sprinters have their dreams crushed after just 27km?
There are a few corners to deal with and another roundabout close to the line, but the main issue is the rise at the 3km mark. We are talking about 700m at around 8%, with two more kickers before the finish. This is not easy.
The other thing to note is the last couple of kilometres is on very narrow roads. Positioning is always important, but even more so in this finish. From the flamme rouge, the road is barely wide enough for 6 bikes. If you are on the front, you have a great chance of success.
It really would be a shame if the sprinters didn’t get another chance. They’ve only had one chance so far and this is the last one before Madrid. However, most teams don’t have a quality sprinter and will be happy to take their chances from a break. It looks like QuickStep will be the only team to chase and with a tricky finish, there is no guarantee they’ll want to. We’ll need a little cooperation from some teams, if we want a sprint. With Trek looking after Contador and not Theuns, the only option seems like UAE.
The bunch start with pleasant temperatures, but finish in the roasting heat. This will be another demanding day due to the sun.
Matteo Trentin – has a 3 point lead over Chris Froome, in the green jersey competition, but that looks thin! The Italian already has two stage wins to his name and this looks like a good chance for a third. He is sprinting very well and will easily handle the little kickers at the end. Starts the stage as the strong favourite.
Julian Alaphilippe – when we get attacks in the closing 3km, he should be the man QuickStep use to anchor the moves. A phenomenal rider, he will easily cope with the sudden accelerations and can sprint fast too. QuickStep have the two clear favourites for this stage, that puts them in a very strong position.
Edward Theuns – what a ride today! Gets in the break and ends up helping Contador as they headed into town. Hopefully, he saved a little back for this stage. The Belgian is sprinting very well and will like the end to the stage, remember, this is a rider that is among the best when powering up the Paterberg! I really hope he takes a grand tour win, he deserves it.
Sacha Modolo – loves a tough finish. His sprinting legs haven’t been great, despite taking up good positions in the finale. He will have high hopes for this stage, but will his team help QuickStep chase the break? If they don’t, the break might not come back.
Lasse Norman Hansen – breakaway option number 1.
JJ Rojas – breakaway option number 2.
Omar Fraile – breakaway option number 3. It’s great to see him back to full health!
I don’t think QuickStep will pass up the opportunity to take their 5th win in the race. That would equal the 5 wins they took in the Giro and Tour. Quite a season for the Belgians. It’s a toss up between two, but I’ll go with Julian Alaphilippe.
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