Trujillo > El Piornal 191.8km
Another mountain stage with a flat start, I’m fed up with this. With 25 KOM points on offer, this is a day where Jay Vine can all but seal the polka dot jersey. Just like every mountain stage in this race, will the peloton chase the break or is it another day for the attackers to take the win? The climbs at the end are both called Alto de Piornal, but it’s not the same climb done twice, it’s a different climb each time, and a different finishing position.
Temperatures will be in the mid-20s, so much more pleasant for the bunch.
First time up Alto de Piornal is 13.4km at 5%, the descent is straightforward too.
The last time up is 13.2km at 5.6%. Neither ascent falls into the “hard” category, but it will seem tougher due to the position in the race.
There’s no need for QuickStep to chase, if the win is going to come from the bunch, then it’s going to be up to Movistar. The Spaniards are after valuable world tour points, there’s no way they’re going to go all out for the win and risk second place on GC. At this point of the race, everyone is going to be riding negatively. This hands the advantage to the break, but the climbers would love to see a hill at the start of the stage, these flat starts must be getting to them too.
Back in the GC group, everyone is going to mark each other, and the climbs aren’t hard enough for big splits. Sorry to say it, but the route design is poor for a mountain stage at this point in the Vuelta.
Jay Vine – I don’t think anyone will even try to stop him from getting the KOM points, that means he can save energy throughout the stage and have a proper crack at the stage win. His form throughout the race has been outstanding, but he has used up a huge amount of energy, so he’ll have to see how the legs respond if he makes the break.
Richard Carapaz – just like Vine, he’s going for his third stage win of the race. He did suffer on Sunday, but he’s already shown in this race that he has excellent powers of recovery. If he’s in the break, he’ll be hard to beat.
Thibaut Pinot – it’s been a very disappointing race for Pinot, but today he was the only rider left in the GC group at the end of the stage, which is a very positive sign. As we move into the final stages, I would expect to see him at the pointy end. The temperatures are much better for him too, hopefully he gets in the break and fights for the win.
Hugh Carthy – another rider who normally goes well in the final week of a grand tour. The flat start makes it hard for a rider like Hugh to make the break, but if it does get up the road, keep an eye out for him. He’d normally prefer a steeper climb, but the length of it is good for him.
Chris Harper – someone from Jumbo-Visma will get in the break, it would be great to see Harper slip away. He’s shown in previous mountain stages that he’s going very well just now; it would be great to see him challenging for his first grand tour stage.
Miguel Ángel López – won’t have that much freedom now as he’s a threat to the podium, he sits just 42 seconds behind Ayuso. That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to win as he’s got the quality to get away from Ayuso, but it adds a layer of doubt in my mind. I get the feeling that his best shot at winning a stage was last weekend.
Ben O’Connor – to be fair, Ben is representing everyone from 6th to 10th on GC. Evenepoel has no need to attack, in fact, it would be a risk doing so ahead of the big stage on Saturday. He’ll keep an eye on Mas and Ayuso, and Ayuso will be watching Rodríguez and López, but the other top GC riders should all get a little freedom if they attack. It would be great to see O’Connor complete his grand tour hattrick.
A breakaway win for Jay Vine and stalemate in the GC group.