Today will feel like a 207km flat ride from Baeza to Albacete for the peloton, a simple stroll compared to the last couple of days at the Vuelta. This means the sprint teams will be working hard on the front to ensure a breakaway is unsuccessful, as this is a major target for the sprinters with so few opportunities at this year’s edition of the race.
As the profile shows, the ride to Albacete is rolling throughout the majority of the day, though not hard enough to encourage serious breakaways. The lead-out trains will have prepared especially for today as the final run into the finish is one of the most simple this year, though roundabouts are plentiful once again, the win will be contested along the 900m finishing straight. One aspect which will play a role in the day’s outcome is the possible wind as the riders edge close to the coast once again, making a headwind on the finishing straight a likelihood.
With such favourable stages for sprinters a luxury at the Vuelta, it is likely that a lot of teams shall have earmarked this as a serious target. However, the conclusion is likely to be a predominantly two horsed affair as Giant-Shimano and FDJ do their best to deliver John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni into prime positions late on. Finishing in Albacete looks best suited to a power sprinter such as Degenkolb who can sustain his output over such a long distance, in order to maintain a gap over the chasers. Though Degenkolb crashed yesterday, it does not appear to be anything serious and with the day being such a target for Giant-Shimano, he is the favourite to win if in convincing condition. Nacer Bouhanni has been incredibly impressive when accelerating so far and, should he leave it late before putting his nose into the wind, he may just be able to produce a jump to overcome a flagging Degenkolb. Others such as Moreno Hofland, Andrea Guardini, Tom Boonen and Roberto Ferrari will also be eager to make their presence felt today, as it will be a long wait before they are afforded such golden opportunities once again.
1st Degenkolb 2nd Bouhanni 3rd Ferrari