We’ve seen crashes, sprints and some scorching heat in the Vuelta so far, here’s a preview of the next six stages which will see the peloton take on three more mountain stages and an individual time trial.
Stage 8 30/8/2014 – Flat – Baeza > Albacete (207km)
This stage is the longest of this edition of the Vuelta and will precede two mountain stages and an individual time trial. Although classified as a flat stage, this one is slightly up and down until it’s highest point at 1100m, which is 137km into the day.
From the highest point it’s all down hill for 70km to the finish in Albacete, this will mean a very fast average speed and expect the sprinters to challenge for this one as it will be the last chance they will get for a short while. The GC contenders will keep their powder dry before a big three days of racing which should shake up the GC nicely, but the possibility is there for a sneak-attack on the sprints to take the time bonuses – like Chris Froome did in Stage 5.
Stage 9 31/8/2014 – Mountain – Carboneras de Guadazaon > Aramon Valdelinares (185km)
This stage comes before the first rest day of the race,and with plenty of opportunities for attacking we should expect a lot of action from the General Classification who will be wanting to put time into, or take it back from, their rivals.
The last 25km are key to victory, and will be where the GC make their moves. This last part is he most difficult with a category two and category one climb with a summit finish on the Valdelinares. If a breakaway is still well established by the second last climb they could make it to the finish, but it is likely that one of the GC will take this stage.
This stage could see the mountains classification change hands, with plenty of points available on the climbs and at the summit finish.
Stage 10 2/9/2014 – ITT – Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Verulea > Borja (36.7km)
The first individual time trial will suit riders who are good climbers as well as sound time trialists. The stage climbs steadily towards the Alto de Moncayo, a category 3 climb which will be a crucial element of the stage as once over it the stage is a slow descent for 15.5km into Borja.
This time trial is completely open, as the descent from the Moncayo is long enough for the riders who aren’t the best climbers to make up for the time they might have lost on the uphill. Expect the big names in time trialling – Chris Froome, Tony Martin and Spanish Champion Alejandro Valverde to name a few – to put in a good performance and we could also see some changes in the GC.
The weather will play a part in this stage more than most time trials, with so much descending to do rain could affect the time gaps and put some riders in difficulty.
Stage 11 3/9/2014 – Mountain – Pamplona > Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar (153.4km)
This stage could see some good action on the summit finish up to San Miguel, a category one climb at 1210m. It could also be a good stage for a breakaway to succeed, as the only other climb on the stage is the third category Puerto de Lizarraga.
If a break can establish a good lead coming off the Lizarraga then they will stand a good chance of making it to the finish. This stage has all the makings of a classic, and if the peloton is all together on the final climb there will be plenty of opportunities for an attack to win the stage, not to mention taking some vital seconds off of GC riders.
The first 100km of this stage are relatively flat, so a breakaway will have a chance to establish a good lead and don’t be surprised if some GC members compete for the bonus seconds at the two intermediate sprints.
Stage 12 4/9/2014 – Flat – Logrono > Logrono (166.4km)
This flat stage will be one of the last chances for the sprint teams to get a victory at this Vuelta, and with the race never climbing more than 150m the entire day it will be a very fast stage that will almost certainly result in a bunch sprint.
The stage is laps around Logrono, which includes some technical turns and difficult streets to navigate which could result in a few crashes, especially if the conditions are extremely hot.
It will be a great opportunity for the wearer of the Green points jersey to consolidate their lead and take a stage or a chance for their rivals to take the jersey from them, but with four days of racing and three mountain stages until the next flat stage, whoever finishes in the Green jersey will probably hold it until the final flat stage.
Stage 13 5/9/2014 – Hill – Belorado > Obregon (188.7km)
Stage 13 has three categorised climbs, two category three and one category two, and after the final climb of the cat 2 Alto del Caracol there is 30km of downhill racing to complete before the finish in Obregon.
The lengthy descent from the final climb could be an ideal opportunity for a breakaway to succeed, although it would need to be a late breakaway in order to make it to the finish as it is unlikely to be successfully stay away for the duration of the stage.
The main GC contenders will be keeping their powder dry with three consecutive days in the mountains after this stage, although it could be an opportunity to claim back a second or two with the time bonuses available.
Stage 14 6/9/2014 – Mountain – Santander > La Camperona (200.8km)
The second longest stage of the Vuelta will be a tough day for everyone in the peloton with a category two climb the first obstacle of the day at 70km.
After that there is two first category climbs including a summit finish at La Camperona, this will be a good stage for a Red jersey contender to make a move on, especially if the peloton is altogether on the final climb. Between the two first category climbs there is also an intermediate sprint, expect this to be contested by a GC member, especially if the gap between places in the General Classification is only small.
After this stage there are another two mountain stages to contest, so the race is a long way from being decided but this would be an ideal stage for a rider to take the red jersey with a view to defending it in the rest of the mountain stages.