This is the first of 3 brutal stages in the Pyrenees.
They also have 2 cat 2 climbs before ending on the cat 1 Collada de la Gallina.
The Port de Envalira is the highest climb on the Vuelta this year and gets the top KOTM points,so expect the contenders for the polka dot jersey to be in the break.If any of the GC riders struggle on this climb,then it’s game over.
It is a gut churning 26.7km at 5.2%.The gradient is constantly changing and the riders will struggle to find a rhythm on this climb.There is 70km from the top of the climb to the finish so I don’t expect the peloton to try anything fancy,they’ll probably ride at tempo,unless some of the big hitters are struggling.
The Col de Ordino is 8.8km at 4.9%,and also has a tricky descent before the Alto de la Comella.It’s 4km at 5% and the descent to the last climb is quite easy.
The final climb of the day is 7.2km at 8%.It should suit a rider like Vincenzo Nibali.
The Vuelta visited the same finish on stage 8 in 2012,although the stage was much easier.
Alberto Contador looked to have won the stage with an amazing attack with 1km to go,only to be robbed on the line by Valverde and Rodriguez.So Valverde has fond memories of this climb but it’ll be hard to repeat this success against Nibali,Horner and Basso.
The break will contain riders competing for the KOTM jersey,as the especial climb has 20 points as it is the highest climb of the race.Expect Txurruka,Edet and Ulissi to all be present.Caja Rural put another man in the break,on stage 13,to help Txurruka and that was a clever move.Will they do it again?
Expect a Euskaltel rider to be there,either Martinez or Landa.
The weather forecast is not good with storms predicted.Vincenzo Nibali has shown,this season,that he copes very well with the cold and rain.
Again,whether the break survives will depend on the peloton.I would imagine that the break will be caught on the final slopes and we’ll have a battle between Nibali,Horner,Valverde,Rodriguez and Basso.
From the beginning I’ve said that doing the Tour/Vuelta double would be incredibly difficult for Valverde,Rodriguez and Moreno.I expect Moreno to blow tomorrow and possibly one of the others.The two Italians and Horner have looked better on the hard climbs and I think that this will be the case again tomorrow.
Remember that Basso and Nibali used to be teammates and are still good friends.I expect them to roughen up the others and the two of them will get away.They will ride for each other and Nibali will allow Basso the stage.
My recommended bets are Basso at 18/1 for the stage and Basso to beat Pinot at 4/9.