Each stage, the Rouleur panel of ‘experts’ will give their picks for the following day’s race.
David Hunter, AKA Cycling Mole, is a top tipster who spends far more time studying the odds than we do. In a daily battle of wits, Team Rouleur will give their predictions for the next day’s stage before Moley runs his scathing eye over them and comes up with his own. Who will win?
Stage 12: Mondoñedo to Faro de Estaca de Bares. Mañón
Elia Viviani – Quick Step
There seems to be no breaking down of that Quick Step leadout train, no matter how hard Bora-Hansgrohe tried yesterday. I managed to get first dibs today, so I’m going with the predictable choice.
Giacomo Nizzolo – Trek-Segafredo
It’s got its lumps and is a bit convoluted, but I don’t think the Stage 12 route throws anything at the race that might cause the sprint teams to relinquish control. As such, it comes down to the rather dull question of which gallopers are still in the tombola. Lunge forward Giacomo Nizzolo. Rarely first across the line but often thereabouts. You’re gonna break that Grand Tour duck one day, aren’t you?
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
This one has to be a sprint, surely? And the world champion has to land one of these, no matter what shape he’s in. Three second places to his name so far, so Sagan is in the zone. Time to step up and outsmart the Quick Step train.
Lars Boom – LottoNL-Jumbo
After the big two have been taken it’s finger in the air time, isn’t it? If it finishes in a sprint, and it almost certainly will, one of them will win. There’s nothing in Lars Boom’s form to give any indication he’d be able to get away tomorrow even if he were to try to – which he almost certainly won’t – but as I have fond memories of his escape on Stage 5 of last year’s Binck Bank Tour, I’m going to gamble and hope that Boom does too.
Danny Van Poppel – LottoNL-Jumbo
Can Danny boy win? Probably not. The Dutch cycling journalist I asked in the Vuelta press room last week pulled a face and said “not too good” of his chances. But I’ll plump for this flying young Dutchman, who was second behind Bouhanni a week ago. The Frenchman proved that Viviani is beatable; it’s all a matter of freelancing on rival sprint trains smartly and not going too early.
Looks like a standard sprint stage, but look again. The last 50km of the stage is difficult with lots of unclassified climbs, leading into a technical finale. In the last 2km, the riders leave the main road and move onto a narrow track, which has a little lump. The finish looks spectacular, but it’s also going to be very dangerous. It should still be one for the sprinters, but we could get a surprise.
Hannah – if given first choice, I think we’d all pick Viviani. The Italian was dominant on Tuesday, but this is a much harder finish. It could be a bad day to get first pick.
Hugo – Nizzolo has looked good in the race, but he still lacks the speed and sprint train required to win. It’s no surprise he’s yet to win a stage of a Grand Tour.
Ian – can Sagan turn things around? Now, he has looked better as the race has gone on, but he still looks well short of out-sprinting Viviani. The world champion is a brilliant cyclist, but he needs to be 100% to beat Viviani in a downhill sprint.
Andy – brought home the bacon by picking De Marchi today, it seems that Andy is the man in form. His pick of Van Poppel is interesting, a sprinter who has enjoyed a fine race. He doesn’t have a win to his name, but he has impressed most observers. The difficult finish is great news for the Dutchman.
My pick – the finish is perfect for a surprise and I also think this is a day for Danny van Poppel.