Lerma > Lagunas 169.7km
After today’s breakaway win, we head to the mountains and a big finish on Lagunas de Neila. Will it be another day for the break, or will the GC riders want a stage win?
Around 30 degrees, but not as sunny as previous days.
It’s a climb most of us will know well, they love using it in this race. 11.8km at 6.2%, but the final 2.8km average 10.3%, this is where it starts to hurt. I remember a few editions where it’s been a headwind on the climb, but this year most of it will be a light tailwind.
Sivakov has a nice lead on GC, he sits around 30s clear of his main rivals, which puts Ineos into a commanding position. Not only do they have that gap, but they also have Geoghegan Hart, De Plus and Rodríguez all sitting in the top 11. I can’t see how anyone will be able to put pressure on them in terms of the overall win, but the stage win is a different story.
We have riders here who have won this stage before, Carthy did it last year and Ivan Sosa won it on each of the three previous editions, with Miguel Ángel López taking it the year before. Returning to a climb you’ve won on gives confidence, all three will hope to challenge for another win.
I would imagine that Ineos will set pace on the climb, an old-fashioned mountain train will be in operation. Looking to disrupt this will be EF, they’ll be hoping to win the stage and see if they can put pressure on Sivakov as Guerreiro is still well placed on GC. The good news for EF is that they have the climbers to ride on the front and see if Ineos show any weakness. As the final 3km is very difficult, there’s no need to go early, a well-timed move can create a big gap, Guerreiro will still believe in his chances.
Ineos will be on watching duty, the stage win isn’t important, it’s all about winning the overall title. With the climbers they have, Sivakov will be able to draft up much of the climb, saving as much energy as possible. It’s been a while since he’s looked this good, I hope he can finish the job off.
Iván Sosa – loves this climb, it’s the one day of the year you can be sure he’ll deliver. Movistar are in desperate need of points; they look vulnerable in the relegation battle. This is a big chance for Sosa to land a result ahead of the Vuelta.
Ruben Guerreiro – he’s been looking nice and frisky this week, but he’s often a rider who doesn’t make the right tactical decisions. He climbed very well at the Dauphiné, that was the best I’ve ever seen him. He followed that up with a stunning win on Ventoux, but the Tour was a disaster for him, and he abandoned after eight stages. If he can win this stage, against some of the best climbers in the world, he’ll approach the Vuelta full of confidence.
Miguel Ángel López – looked good on Picon Blanco, he crested with Sivakov before getting dropped on the misty descent. This is a climb he knows well; he won here way back in 2017. In my overall preview I questioned what his mental state would be like after his recent brush with the law, but he answered any questions I had on Picon Blanco. He’s 42s down on GC, so winning the stage is probably the best he can hope for.
Jai Hindley – looked solid on Picon Blanco, but he couldn’t follow Sivakov and López. Bora have three options, but we didn’t really get to see them on Wednesday.
Ineos – as I’ve said, winning the stage isn’t the priority. I don’t think they’ll attack making others cover, I expect them to ride a strong tempo and take Sivakov all the way to the line with support. He’s got a nice buffer to his main rivals, but if you have a bad moment on this climb, the gaps get big very quickly.
A stage win for Miguel Ángel López and Pavel Sivakov to win the GC.