C-Cycling - Vuelta a España 2015 Preview and Favorites

26/08 - Stage 5 - Rota to Alcalá de Guadaíra - 167.3 km

On paper, this is a stage for the fast riders. However, another uphill finish may prove too much for some of the pure sprinters. The day starts in Rota near the coast. With only 650 meters of climbing this is one of the flattest stages in this year’s Vuelta a España. The next chance for the sprinters won’t come until stage 12, so they simply can’t afford to miss out today. Therefore, it seems almost impossible that a morning break will make it all the way.

The intermediate sprint is located in Sevilla with just 18.1 km left to go. If the peloton has already caught the breakaway at this point, we might see some of the GC riders fight for the 3-2-1 bonus seconds in the sprint.

After a relatively easy day in the saddle, the riders will have to pay close attention to the final kilometers. As always, positioning is extremely important in the bunch sprints. Even more today. Just before passing under la flamme rouge, there is a roundabout which will stretch out the peloton significantly. Another roundabout comes just a few hundred meters later. After this, the road narrows and starts to rise. With 500 meters to go, the riders turn left in a sharp 90° corner onto Calle Duquesa de Talavera. From here, it’s uphill all the way towards the finishing line with an average gradient of 6 % - including a few steep parts.

Since the riders, will lose speed as they turn onto this final stretch, it’s crucial to be in a good position coming into the corner. If you are too far down and have to waste energy uphill just to get back in the mix, you probably won’t have enough power left in the legs for the final sprint. You can see the final kilometer on Google Maps below:

C-Cycling.com Vuelta a España 2015 Preview and Favorites

Some people may be tempted to make fun of Peter Sagan for finishing second yet again on stage 4 of the Vuelta. The way I see it, though, Sagan didn’t lose that stage - Alejandro Valverde won it. The Slovakian did much better than expected and he’s clearly still in great shape despite claiming otherwise. Today’s finish suits him perfectly. Given his recent results, it’s hard to see anyone outsprint him in Alcalá de Guadaíra. Tinkoff-Saxo hasn’t been afraid of taking responsibility early on the stages. I expect them to do the same thing again today. If they can deliver Sagan in a good position - between the first five riders coming into the last corner - it will take something truly spectacular to beat him.

One of the only riders who may be able to do just that is John Degenkolb. The German looked to win the sprint in Málaga the other day but at the end, Sagan and Bouhanni were simply faster. An uphill sprint suits Degenkolb much better though. As he has said himself many times, he’s not a pure sprinter. On his best days, he can even outsmart guys like Valverde on the steep gradients. Do you remember his outstanding win in Dubai at the beginning of the year? If not, you can watch the finish by clicking here. It won’t be easy for Degenkolb to beat Sagan today but if everything works out, it won’t be a surprise either to see him cross the line first and take his 10th stage win in the Vuelta.

My personal outsider today is Carlos Barbero. The Caja Rural sprinter has had a great season so far. He’s very fast on the line, especially in an uphill sprint like this. If the Spanish wild card team can make sure Barbero is in a good position on the final kilometer, he may even make podium. After finishing 2nd at the Spanish national championships (behind Valverde) and 3rd in Circuito de Getxo, Barbero won the opening stage of Vuelta a Burgos earlier this month. That day he outsprinted Dani Moreno on the line. The Katusha rider is another interesting pick today. He too won a stage in Vuelta a Burgos and now comes to this race in great condition. This finish may not be hard enough for Moreno to shine but I won’t put it pass him to fight for the win.

For other good candidate in the expected sprint, look to Vicente Reynes, Kris Boeckmans, Jempy Drucker and the Trek duo of Jasper Stuyven and Danny Van Poppel. Nacer Bouhanni may be able to contest in the sprint as well. However, after crashing two days in a row, Bouhanni isn’t feeling great at the moment. He has problems walking and this could very well prevent him from reaching peak condition today.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv.

Accept Cookies?
Provided by OpenGlobal E-commerce