Stage 13 is a day for the opportunists, with no summit finishes for the red jersey hopefuls and far from any guarantee of a sprint finish, the breakaway could succeed today. Though the 188.7km route includes three categorised climbs, they do no appear tough enough to cause much panic in a well organised breakaway, but nor do they offer an advantage to attack upon as the final climbs finishes 37km shy of the finish in Obregón. Parque de Cabárceno.
Opening upon long stretches of flat road will be fertile ground for a hectic start as many riders try to get into the day’s break – their chances here could be the best of the entire race for an unexpected win. As mentioned of the climbs, they do not instil much fear into the rider’s legs when looking at what they have already overcome during this tour, gradual gradients will be manageable for any breakaway. The conclusion to the day however is a tricker affair with the final 5km veering from steep uphill ramps to sharp descents in a very short period of time, choosing the right time to attack here will win the stage for a canny breakaway rider.
Pot luck, Lottery, Hit & Hope – Call it whatever you like, a day which favours the break is always a difficult task to even estimate who may be in the final deciding group. A big indicator of what may happen will which teams lead the peloton in their pursuit of the escapees – if anyone does at all. Orica-GreenEDGE will happily sit on the front if they think it is realistic to pull everything together once more late on and set Michael Matthews up for another stage win. If they do so, BMC are likely to join the work rate as Philippe Gilbert looks an ideal candidate for the finish and has made no secret of his intention of a stage win here. Within BMC you can also consider Cadel Evans, who recently displayed his years of tactical nous when taking back to back stages at The Tour of Utah. Even more encouraging for Cadel is the face he also finished 6th on Stage 3’s similar finish won by Michael Matthews. Though the man who could really benefit should he be present in a break that has outfoxed the peloton is Peter Sagan, he has won races from similar positions when blitzing short, sharp Bergs and pushing it on the downhill sections to drive home an advantage. The finale does include ramps in excess of 10%, which top out around the 14% mark, it is here that any winning move must be attempted to avoid a bunch kick. In the unlikely situation that it does come back together late on, Giant-Shimano could feel confident of escorting John Degenkolb through the testing sections of the last 3km and putting him in a perfect position to take the win from a massively reduced bunch.
Possibly the hardest stage to predict at this year’s Vuelta a España due to the unpredictable nature of the breakaway and how the peloton will react in terms of chasing teams, if any. Should Peter Sagan smuggle himself into the breakaway and stay clear to the end, he could probably take the win. Though BMC do have the need to make their time here worthwhile beyond their backing of Samuel Sanchez in the general classification, so it would be no shock should Philippe Gilbert or even Cadel Evans takes the win here today.
Breakaway/Solo: Peter Sagan or Cadel Evans
Group: 1st Philippe Gilbert 2nd Michael Matthews 3rd John Degenkolb