2022 Vuelta a España Stage 20 Preview

Moralzarzar > Navacerrada 181km

The final mountain stage of the race, and the last opportunity for riders to make a move on GC. The stage doesn’t have any long climbs, but with almost 4000m of climbing, this should be a very exciting day. Evenepoel looks strong, but Mas will still try and see if he can crack him, this is a rare chance for him to win a grand tour. Behind them, the battle for the podium is still on, I’m hoping for another chaotic stage with lots of attacking.

Weather

Sunny and warm.

Key Climbs

Puerto de Navacerrada comes after just 23.7km of the day, which is good news for climbers wanting to make the break. It’s a tough climb, the hardest of the stage, but will Movistar already be on the move?

The next cat 1 climb is Puerto de la Morcuera, and this should kick off the finale of the stage. The hardest section of the climb comes right at the top, perfect for those who want to attack over the top and onto the descent.

Puerto de Cotos is the final climb of the race, and it crests with 6.6km to go. It’s not the hardest cat 1 climb in the world, but it will be tough due to the fact it’s the final climb in the race. Watch out for a small pavé section not long before the climb starts.

Tactics

Mas is just over 2 minutes behind Remco, but the race isn’t over yet. Of course, it’s going to be very hard to get this time back, but Mas must try. In terms of the battle for third, Ayuso is 42 seconds ahead of López, so that fight is still wide open. After his crash on Thursday, Rodríguez will be in big danger of sliding down the top 10, he’s going to have a long day in the saddle and will simply hope to survive. Then we have Almeida, Arensman, O’Connor, Uran, and Hindley completing the top 10, all of them will have their eyes on the stage and potentially moving up a spot or two.

We’ve already seen that the riders not in the podium fight are willing to go long, or even try to jump in the break. If someone like Hindley does make the move, expect to see a reaction in the bunch from someone like AG2R. This is what makes this stage hard to predict, if a top 10 rider gets in the move, it’s likely going to end up being a GC day. 

Lots of climbers will be keen on getting in the break, but they’ll hope it isn’t one of those monster breaks as they often end in riders not working well together. If the move has around 10 strong climbers, it will be hard for the peloton to catch them, but that depends on when the action starts in the pack. If Movistar decide to lift the pace in the middle of the stage, the gap could start to disappear at an alarming rate. I would say it’s 50/50 for the break. 

Contenders

Hugh Carthy – just like in the Giro, he’ll be hoping for great legs in the final mountain stage. He would prefer some harder climbs, but you can bet he’ll still throw everything at this stage.

Thibaut Pinot – legs seem to be improving, he’ll be in the break and challenging for the win.

Richard Carapaz – needs to be in the break to secure the KOM jersey, then we’ll see if he goes for the stage or go back and help Rodríguez. 

Gino Mäder – another who seems to be building up a head of steam. Gino is a brilliant breakaway rider, and he has previous in the final mountain stage of this race, he was 2nd on Alto de la Covatilla back in 2020. 

Remco Evenepoel – I don’t think he’ll have any interest in the stage, he’s already got two, this stage is all about following Mas. 

Enric Mas – clearly going very well just now, he’d love to win a stage, but he’d love to win red more. Will he go all guns blazing? If he goes too hard, he could blow his chances of taking the stage win. This is the delicate balancing act for Movistar, I think Mas will try and drop Evenepoel, but leave a little in reserve to try and win the stage.

Jai Hindley – this selection represents all the riders from 6th to 10th. They’ll be hoping the break is caught, and with Mas being marked by Evenepoel, it opens the door for a late attack winning the stage. Hindley looked good on Thursday, the best he’s been in this race.

Prediction Time

I’ll take a stage win for Enric Mas, but Remco Evenepoel will hold onto red.

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