It’s the last two days of this year’s spicy Vuelta – and it’s been a rip-roarer. Today’s mountain stage is the last chance saloon for a lot of the guys in the top ten to move position – including the man who sits in second. Sunday, it’ll be the procession into Madrid for a final sprint and the crowning of the Vuelta champion.
Saturday 12th September: Stage 20 – San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla, 175.8km, high mountains
Is this going to be one of the most exciting grand tour stages this year? I hope so. With only six seconds between Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru – and this the last climbing stage – we have to assume that Astana are going to throw everything at Giant-Alpecin, including the kitchen sink. There are four cat 1 climbs but essentially two climbs twice – the Navacerrada/Cotos (max gradient 11.25%) and two ascents of the Morcuera (gradients under 9%). The climbs are fairly well spaced out but it’s a long stage so it’ll be a tough day for the guys, no matter where they are in the standings. If Aru is going to attack, he’ll have to do it near the base of the final climb to make sure he has enough of a head start to not get caught on the descent. Also, expect a lot of action a little further down the GC from those trying to nick the third step of the podium from Rodriguez. Hopefully, this will be a stage to remember.
Sunday 13th September: Stage 21 – Alcalá de Henares to Madrid, 98.8km, flat
It’s a mercifully short stage for the peloton today – and flat – so the riders just have 12 circuits around Madrid to complete before they can have a decent rest before the Worlds. If there are still just a few seconds between Dumoulin and Aru, might tradition go out the window and we see a full racing day for the GC? Or will we see Dumoulin’s teammate John Degenkolb put the icing on the Giant-Alpecin cake by winning the sprint? And let’s all give a cheer when Adam Hansen crosses that finish line – grand tour number 13 in a row done and dusted for the hardman of the peloton.
Link: Official race website