Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stage 13 Preview 2013 Vuelta a España

Stage 13 profile

Stage 13 on the map
Stage 13 is a rolling 169 kilometers, which looks at first glance like a sprinter’s stage. But the profile might be slightly misleading. The most outstanding characteristic on the profile is the climb that comes 115 kilometers into the stage. The category-1 Alto del Rat Penat rises 460 meters over 4.3k for an average gradient of a painful 10.6% and a max of 16%, but it tops out with about 50k to go to the finish. It should produce some splits in the peloton, probably dropping some of the sprinters, but 50k is a lot of road to pull back an escape.

The cat-1 climb profile

Ten KOM points are available at the summit of the category-1 Alto del Rat Penat climb, in addition to the three points up for grabs on the early cat-3 climb. While that is no windfall of mountain points, it could still be significant enough in a tight polka dot jersey race, to tempt a persistent jersey hunter like maybe Cofidis’ Nicolas Edet, or Saxo’s Tomas Marczynski, to get into the break.

The final 5k ends with a short slope up
The finale should prove to be the deciding factor when the riders speed in to Castelldefels on the Balearic Coast near Barcelona. 15 flat final kilometers lead up to a four hundred meter slope up to the line. The hill gets steeper toward the top, so this is not exactly ideal for the sprinters. But the stronger, punchy finishers should like the look of the finale.

Expect Philippe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen to go for it again tomorrow. I would also expect to see Rinaldo Nocentini, Michael Matthews, Gianni Meersman, maybe Stybar or Flecha, and possibly several of the top GC riders take a shot at that final kick up to the line. I would not be surprised at all to see Fabian Cancellara take another shot at a stage win on Friday.

My pick to win stage 13: I really like Nocentini, Gilbert, and Boasson Hagen for stage 13. Yesterday I picked Gilbert to win stage 13, but then he won stage 12 today. So I am going to go with Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Sky for the win on Friday.

My dark-horse pick goes to Warren Barguil of Argos Shimano. 

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