2022 Vuelta a España Stage 14 Preview

Montoro > Alto de la Pandera 160.5km

The first of two big stages in the Sierra Nevada. It’s another mountain stage with a flat start, but that didn’t stop a huge break getting up the road on Thursday. With 18 KOM points on offer, it’s not a huge day in the fight for the KOM jersey, but it is a big day in the fight for the podium. Sierra de La Pandera was last used in 2017, with Rafa Majka winning from the break and the main GC contenders coming home close to each other, will we see a repeat this time round?

Weather

Sunny and temperatures will peak at 29 degrees.

The Climb

Sierra de La Pandera is 8.3km at 7.6% but remember that the riders will have just done 11km at 5.3%, with just 4km of flat in-between. The worst of the climb comes just outside of 4km to go, it is 1.6km at 12.3%, this is where the damage can be done, especially as the final 2.2km averages only 5%. It’s not the toughest climb in the world but coming at this point of a grand tour should make it harder than the numbers suggest.

Tactics

Can anyone be arsed chasing the break? It’s a worrying situation when Movistar are the team I’m relying on! Most of the big GC teams are down to just 5 domestiques, but the Spaniards have 6. It’s still unlikely anyone can beat Evenepoel, but surely, they’ve got to try. I do love a breakaway win, but too many of them in a grand tour and it becomes boring. 

The start of this stage is very flat, which should make it hard for climbers to make the break, but it depends on the attitude in the bunch. The GC position means that QuickStep can relax as it won’t contain anyone close to the red jersey, that means the opening stages will not be controlled until the break forms, this is what swings the advantage in the favour of the breakaway, but I’m still hoping for a GC day. It’s all to do with the size of that front group, which cannot be predicted.

Once we are on the final climb, QuickStep can let another team take up the chase. On Thursday, Vervaeke and Van Wilder did an excellent job, they hung around for a long time and that’s always a help to the race leader. Movistar and Ineos are keen on trying to put the pressure on, they are hoping to put Roglič into difficulty and move further up the standings. They’ll also hope that Evenepoel starts to show some weakness, no one can be certain he’ll continue to be as strong, this is unknown territory for the Belgian.

Contenders

Remco Evenepoel – he’d love to win a mountain stage in the red jersey, some watchers of the sport can be a little disapproving when the race leader “only” wins a TT. QuickStep won’t chase a big break, but if a small move goes up the road, they might just try and chase it down. Evenepoel has floated through the race, he seems on a different level compared to everyone else. This weekend is huge for him, if he continues to look so strong, the race will be over by Sunday night.

Primož Roglič – the signs are positive; he’s starting to gather some momentum. If Roglič can hit top form, he knows he can put Evenepoel under pressure. Jumbo-Visma will curse the loss of Sepp Kuss, they don’t really have someone who can do his role in the team. All of those wanting an exciting final week will be hoping that Roglič continues to improve and takes some time back on Remco this weekend.

Enric Mas – looking nice and strong, but Evenepoel will not allow him any freedom, which makes it very difficult for him to win a stage.

Miguel Ángel López – he’s far enough down on GC to get a little freedom in the closing kilometres. He’s another who seems to be improving as the race goes on, and this type of climb is a good one for him. 

David De La Cruz – breakaway hopeful number 1. Riding very well in this race.

Mark Padun – breakaway hopeful number 2. Pray for a good day.

Alejandro Valverde – breakaway hopeful number 3. He wants a stage win in his last Vuelta.

Marc Soler – breakaway hopeful number 4. Unlikely as Alpecin will mark him.

Jay Vine – breakaway hopeful number 5. Is he cooked? 

Share: