Martos > Sierra Nevada (Observatorio Pico Veleta) 152.5km
We’ve got a rest day on Monday and this stage finishes at 2430m above sea level, can we please get a bloody GC day! I don’t know about you, but I’m getting fed up with breakaway wins at this race. Don’t get me wrong, I love the attackers getting a win, but when it happens too often the race gets a little boring. With Remco showing weakness today, the vultures are circling and are ready to pounce, this should be a day to remember.
Sunny and hot.
First up is the Alto del Purche, a climb well known to those who watch Ruta Del Sol. It is 8km at 8.1% and is a hard one.
The final climb of the day is Alto Hoya de la Mora. It is 21.9km at 6.9%, but the numbers are slightly skewed by a hugely demanding start to the mountain. The opening 4.5km averages a whopping 10.8%, then remainder of the climb is 17.2km at 5.6%. As the climb is done at high altitude, it will make it harder than the numbers suggest, but I can’t help feeling a little disappointed with the end of the stage which is done on a wide road.
Yet another flat start, I’m getting fed up with this. There is a cat 3 climb after 28km of racing, it is 5.6km at 5% and could be where the break forms, at least that’s what the climbers will hope. There’s 3 KOM points on offer here, followed by 10 points on the Purche climb and the final mountain has 20 points for the first across the line as it’s the highest climb in the race. The KOM jersey is delicately balanced and the tactics for this stage will be influenced by this competition.
Jay Vine needs to make the break, there’s a cat 3 and cat 1 climb which would give him another 13 points, and this would stretch his lead on Carapaz, if the Ecuadorian isn’t also in the move. I would expect some of the Alpecin riders to be looking to mark Carapaz, always jumping on his wheel and making it very hard for him to make the break. Also, at some point Ineos will want him to stay in the peloton and help Rodríguez.
After today’s effort, Roglič is 1:49 behind Evenepoel, the game is certainly on. Gesink and Harper did the main damage, and I would expect both to step up again tomorrow and set a fast pace on the final climbs. Roglič will sense a chance to put more time into Remco, and he knows he doesn’t have to do it all in one go, there’s still a week left in this race. Jumbo-Visma might look to control the break and set up a stage win, but there’s no guarantee of this, as they don’t really have to. Astana are the other squad who should have an interest in chasing the break, this is a great chance for López to take a stage win.
So, it’s unclear if anyone will chase the break, but they’ll need a big gap as fireworks will go off in the peloton on the final two climbs. As the stage is a short one, getting a big gap could be a problem for the break.
Primož Roglič – as expected, he’s getting stronger as the race goes on. After today’s big performance, he’s now in a great position to take the red jersey before Madrid, this stage is one where he needs to strike. When he attacks, we’ll have to see if anyone can go with him, I hope he goes at the foot of the final climb. He would like to take another stage win, but red is the main goal, not the stage.
Miguel Ángel López – loves a high-altitude finish, and he won here in 2017 when it finished at 2504m above sea level. When the air starts to get thinner, he’s without doubt one of the best in the world. We could see a similar story to today, with López going away with Roglič and then looking for the stage win. The Colombian is not a threat to the red jersey, which means he should get some freedom in the closing stages.
João Almeida – another who’s form is growing as the race develops. He was 4th today, just 19 seconds behind Roglič, this is a good sign for the final week. The final climb is one that should suit him, if it ends in a small sprint, he’ll likely be one of the fastest. He’s certainly one to watch.
Richard Carapaz – got great legs just now, but if he’s in the main group, he’ll have to work for Rodríguez.
Jay Vine – he needs to be in the break and then see what happens.
Marc Soler – he’s been at his inconsistent best in this race, but when he’s good he’s really good. A solid breakaway pick.
Hugh Carthy – now out of the GC picture, so it’s time to go for the breaks. The final climb is a good one for him, but he needs to make the break, which won’t be easy.
Jai Hindley – he’s in the same position as Carthy, albeit a little closer on GC. The Aussie will not win the stage from the GC group, he needs to go for the break.