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 17: Getxo to Balcón de Bizkaia, 157km
Ion Izagirre – Bahrain-Merida
Far enough down on GC that the main contenders will probably let him go, but he’ll also be motivated to secure his top ten place. He’ll have the added zing in the legs riding in front of his home crowds in the Basque Country.
Eduard Prades – Euskadi-Murias
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I’m going back to my man Prades, who pulled off a fine fourth place on stage 7 for me. Since then, he’s been biding his time (hopefully) and will go big on this tough day in the hills.
Bauke Mollema – Trek-Segafredo
Such an Alaphilippey stage it’s a shame he’s not here. Who’s the most Alaphilippey rider who is? It’s Valverde, obviously, but this one is surely going to the break, so my money is on Mollema to finally, finally, put one away.
Dylan Teuns – BMC
Oh, I dunno. The parcours looks like it lends itself to an escape but I can’t picture anyone but the GC contenders battling it out on that brute of a final climb. Such is the daily dilemma of the Vuelta. Screw it: Dylan Teuns appears determined to make something of his Vuelta from the breakaways and this is possibly his best remaining chance.
Igor Anton – Dimension Data
I’ve gone for a real long shot. Anton is in need of a contract for 2019, has a classy pedigree and the final climbs are right on the local lad’s doorstep. Unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
The dust has settled after the TT and Simon Yates has a firm grip of the red jersey, but expect to see a Colombian firework show! The stage ends with Alto del Balcón de Bizkaia, deep in the Basque Country. The climb is 7.3km at 9.7% and has a maximum gradient of 24%. This is going to be brutal. As usual, you have to decide if the break comes back or not – Mitchelton-Scott certainly won’t do any chasing.
Hannah – home roads or not, Izagirre doesn’t stand a chance. Must try harder!
Ian – safe to say that Ian has a soft spot for Prades, rumour has it he has a poster of him above his bed. Another rider on home roads and another who won’t win.
Nick – we’ll certainly see Mollema try to make the morning move, he has his eyes are on the KOM jersey. Once there, his chances depend on the quality of the break, he’s already used a lot of energy in the last two weeks.
Hugo – the Belgian has certainly looked very strong during the second week. He can perform well on steep gradients and will have a good chance of taking the win from the break.
Andy – it seems that Andy has just woken from a coma and thinks it’s 2011.
My pick – despite crashing on Sunday, it seems that Kwiatkowski is still performing well. Now that he’s out of the GC picture, I expect to see him win from the break.