Vuelta España 2014 – Stage 3 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Vuelta España 2014 – Stage 3 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 2 Recap

In the morning break was Conti, Haas, Sbaragli, Van Rensburg, Aramendia and Hardy. Nathan Haas took the cat 3 climb, so he will he the leader of the KOM classification. Soon after the climb Haas and Sbaragli decided to return to the peloton. A nice bit of work by Haas! We got the expected bunch sprint, with some scary moments in the final 2km. It was FDJ who emerged at the front of the peloton, with 1km remaining. It looked like Bouhanni was going to be isolated at the front, but Soupe emerged from nowhere and Bouhanni jumped on his wheel. Soupe drove into the finishing straight and delivered Bouhanni with just 150m to go, the little man finished it off. A very, fast finishing Degenkolb was second and Ferrari, third.

Stage 3 Cadiz – Arcos De La Frontera 197.8km

ve3The riders face a fairly long day in the saddle, as they travel across Southern Spain. It’s the best start I think we’ll see this year, as the riders travel off an aircraft carrier, Juan Carlos I.

ve3aThe profile is much more interesting than yesterday, but we should end with another bunch sprint.

We have 4 cat 3 climbs, each offering 3, 2 and 1 KOM points:

Puerto de Galis – 7.1km at 5.3%

Alto Alcornocales – 9km at 2.9%

Alto del Camino – 13.3km at 3.6%

Puerto del Boyar – 6.6km at 5.6%, the final 2km at 7%.

The final climb is the most difficult, but it crests with 46km to go, so the pace will be fairly easy. The profile does suit a breakaway, but the 46km of flat, towards the finish, doesn’t help! The final couple of kilometres, of the stage, is very interesting.

ve3bThe road rises from 1.5km to 400 metres to go. It averages around 4.5%, but does have some fairly severe ramps. This is not your normal bunch sprint.

ve3cThe finale is very technical and includes the crossing of three bridges.

ve3dWhat a lovely finish the organisers have given the riders! This is the section with only 600 metres remaining. We have two roundabouts to deal with, before a very short finishing straight of 150 metres.

Once across the bridge and into the final 1.5km, the road is very narrow and fairly steep. This is a classic end to a “flat” Vuelta stage! The roundabouts are small, so positioning will be very important. Organisation will be very difficult, for the sprinters teams and this could easily end, with a lone break.

Looking at the sprinters: Sagan, Degenkolb and Matthews will all like the look of the finish. The biggest problem will be securing the sprint, as many teams will look to attack in the final 2km.

Dani Moreno loves this type of stage. The sprinters will not be able to follow his attack, on the climb. He has a great chance of victory, as does Purito and Kolobnev. Katusha will certainly try to animate the end of the stage, to eliminate some sprinters.

Back in 2013, stage 4 was quite similar to this. Dani Moreno won the stage, from Cancellara and Matthews. The Spaniard succeeded with a late attack, can lightning strike twice?

As the roads are very narrow, in the final 2km, it will be the GC teams that take control of the peloton. This will lead to most of the sprinters losing position and not being able to recover.

All teams have options for this stage:

Lampre – Richeze

AG2R – Mondory, Nocentini

Astana – Guarnieri

Belkin – Hofland, Martens

BMC – Sanchez, Evans, Gilbert

Caja Rural – LL Sanchez

Cannondale – Sagan, Gatto

Cofidis – ?

Europcar – ?

FDJ – Roux

Garmin – Martin

Giant – Degenkolb

IAM – Reynes

Katusha – Rodriguez, Moreno, Kolobnev

Lotto – Debusschere

Movistar – Valverde

MTN – Ciolek

OPQS – Boonen

Orica – Matthews

Sky – ?

Tinkoff – Bennati, Rovny

Trek – Cancellara, Stuyven

This is one of the things that makes the Vuelta, such a brilliant race. A stage where almost every team has an option, and a finish that suits sprinters and climbers!

On the final climb, it will be very difficult for anyone to move up the bunch. Those at the front of affairs will fight it out for the stage win. It will be interesting to see which team will chase down attacks, but I don’t see it being a sprinter’s team.

Michael Matthews, is the best climber of the sprinters. The climb won’t cause him problems, but he’ll need teammates to bring back the explosive attacks.

I would expect to see both Boonen and Gilbert, near the head of the field. This finish looks very good for both riders and provides them with a chance to remind everyone of their qualities.

Prediction time…

The GC boys are going to be very nervous and will dominate the end of the stage. This will force most of the sprinters too far back in the peloton, and they’re day will be over. Back at the front, there will be plenty of attacks and I think Katusha look the strongest. They have Moreno, Rodriguez and Kolobnev to pick from. The Spaniards might be heavily marked, giving the opportunity to the Russian.

If a team does manage to control the finale and we somehow get a sprint, it’s going to be a day for Michael Matthews.

David Hunter

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