Sunday, 8 September 2013

Vuelta a Espana 2013 : Stage 16 Preview

THE final day in the Pyrenees should be the least arduous of the three. But with the weather and the fatigue that will be setting in that may not be the case.

There are only two climbs for the riders to tackle before the finish, the 3rd category Puerto de la Foradada and the 2nd category Puerto de Cotefablo.

Neither should cause too many problems although they are both longer than usual for a lower category climbs. The Foradada is 5.9km long with an average gradient of 5.9% while the Cotefablo is 12.5km long with 4% average.

Once over these two, and 146.8km since they left the start town of Graus they will hit the final climb of the day up to ski station of Aramon Formigal.

That last climb is the Salent de Gallego, a first cat ascent which lasts for 15.8km and has an average gradient of 4%.

The reason for the low average is after 3km there is a 3km section which is almost flat before it descends for a further 500m.

It does kick up again, with a maximum gradient of 9.5% but it will take a serious attack to hurt most of the big names.

I get the feeling that this could be a day for the breakaway.

So it's pot luck time to try and see who will feature in the escape.

Euskatel will feature, possibly with Egoi Martinez. Others who no longer have GC ambitions will also try and infiltrate. Team Sky may look to Rigoberto Uran or possibly Vasil Kiryienka.

Michele Scarponi has looked quite frisky in recent days for Lampre but if not him they may look to Diego Ulissi. Caja Rural will have David Arroyo or Amets Txurruka.

NetApp-Endura may also be involved, possibly with Bartosz Huzarski.

For me though I would look to Belkin and Bauke Mollema in particular. He hasn't had the best of tours and currently finds himself almost an hour behind Vincenzo Nibali.

He is more than capable of going up hills quickly and this could be an ideal day for him.

But who knows with breaks!

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