Vuelta a España 2022, stage 19
Distance: 138.3 kilometres
Start location: Talavera de la Reina
Finish location: Talavera de la Reina
Start time: 12.55 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.30 BST
Travelling east from yesterday’s finish, the Vuelta a España moves into the autonomous region of Castile-La Mancha as it edges ever closer to Madrid, and stage 19 features a short, punchy stage that should prove to be fast and entertaining.
The start and finish towns are one and the same for today’s stage, whose route is circular in nature, constituting two laps around the locale and taking in two ascents of the same climb. Located in the province of Toledo, Talavera de la Reina is known as the City of Pottery, and is famous throughout the region and the nation for its pottery craft which dates back to the Middle Ages.
The circuit begins just a few kilometres after the start. It’s a day that will favour the breakaway, so expect fireworks from the outset. The route heads almost immediately uphill, with around 5km of uncategorised climbing before the main challenge of the day is tackled for the first time.
The Puerto del Piélago is a second category climb of 9.3km in length. It has an average gradient of 5.6% and, given that the breakaway are unlikely to be settled by the time the peloton hits the slopes for the first time, further chaos is likely to ensue as the ascent takes its toll on any breakaway hopefuls who aren’t up to the early high pace.
If the first climb splits the bunch, the 32km of downhill that follows it may see things come back together again, as GC teams look to limit their losses and anyone with a good descent may fancy their chances at joining whatever group has managed to extricate itself from the clutches of the peloton.
At the completion of the first circuit the route returns to the town, and around 15km of false flat may offer some respite or it may see further attacks in anticipation of a second circuit, on what is likely to be a frenetic day in the saddle.
From there it’s back to climbing once more, with the added incentive of an intermediate sprint atop the uncategorised section of the climb for the green jersey rivals to scrap for points, if they are motivated to. The second ascent of the Piélago climb begins with just over 50km of the day remaining.
Once the riders have completed the descent for the second time, they leave the circuit and head to the west of the city for 10km on flat roads. Unless a lone breakaway rider has made it clear by this point, it’s likely that we will see a sprint from the breakaway group to determine the overall stage winner.
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 19 map and profile
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 19 profile
Vuelta a España 2022 stage 19 predictions and contenders
All bets are off at this late stage and outside of the top GC riders it will be every man for himself, so expect a large group to escape up the road. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) might fancy his chances on a day like this if he has the legs – he won a similar stage in Naples at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year. Other riders who will enjoy this kind of all-out aggressive battle might include Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious), who is still seeking his first WorldTour win after coming close on two previous occasions so far this Vuelta, and outside bets such as James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers), Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) or Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech).
Prediction: We think a breakaway is nailed on to take the win today, and Fred Wright will be able to finally break his Grand Tour duck.