31/08 - Stage 10 - Valencia to Castellón - 146.6 km
Today’s stage seems like a great chance for a strong break to make it all the way. It’s one of the shortest stages of the race and that means it will be a very fast day in the saddle. We can expect multiple attacks on the opening kilometers. Most likely, the final break will be established on the slopes towards the top of Puerto del Oronet. According to the road book, this category 2 climb starts after 23 km. However, in reality, it will have been uphill for 10 km at this point already.
From the top of the climb, the following 90 km shouldn’t trouble the riders much. With only Giant-Alpecin to work in the peloton, a strong breakaway will be able to gain a solid gap on the pack on this part of the stage. The final struggle of the day comes soon after the intermediate sprint in Benicasim. With just under 25 km to go, the riders start on the Alto del Desierto de las Palmas. This ascent is 7 km long and has an average gradient of 5.6 %. It’s a very regular climb but - like almost every climb in this year’s Vuelta - it also has parts of double-digit gradients. Especially, some of the hairpin corners are steep. There is a short descent before the top. The view over the hills and the sea is spectacular. Unfortunately, the riders won’t be able to enjoy this.
The almost 10 km long descent is fast but it also has its tricky parts. When it’s done, there are just about 8 km left to go. Numerous roundabouts await the riders on the final kilometers. The last one comes with just 600 meters to go. In the unlikely case that the peloton ends up fighting for the win, it will be very important to be well-placed taking on all these roundabouts, which will stretch out the peloton significantly. If a small breakaway group arrives together, a well-timed attack on the last 1.5 km (including three roundabouts) could easily prove successful.