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 13: Candás. Carreño to Valle de Sabero. La Camperona, 174km
Wilco Kelderman – Sunweb
The Dutchman is possibly in the best shape I’ve ever noticed him in. But carrying nearly two minutes deficit from a bad day on the flat, riders at the very top of the GC will be more concerned by others closer to them. So: he’s got the form to be in there at the kill, but might also find enough leeway to jump away in the final kilometre or two.
Bauke Mollema – Trek-Segafredo
Just because he has to get a stage win this Vuelta, surely…
Nairo Quintana – Movistar
The Spanish team are sitting pretty in this Vuelta, with Valverde and Quintana hot on the heels of Simon Yates. This is the ideal opportunity to play the old one-two on Mitchelton-Scott. I’m backing the Colombian to break the Brit’s spirit and bag a stage – and the red jersey.
Merhawi Kudus – Dimension Data
I’m rooting for a landmark win for this Eritrean climber. He’s been targeting the Vuelta, the steep sections on the finishing climb suit him and he ought to have leeway to get up the road, given Meintjes’ mediocrity.
Miguel Ángel López – Astana
I agree with Ian that the steep final climb looks perfectly suited to a diminutive Colombian – we just disagree on which one. López found himself in a spot of bother on Wednesday that he had to fight hard to extricate himself from. Fortunately, stage 12 looked like a bit of a roll for the favourites, which should have given him a chance to recover. Expect a big surge.
Stage 13 is the beginning of three huge days in the mountains. This stage has the least amount of climbing, making it the easiest stage to control, but the last two visits to La Camperona have ended in breakaway success. As you might be experiencing, predicting when the bunch actually chases is rather tricky in La Vuelta! La Camperona is a beast of a climb, 8.3km at 7.5%, but the final 2km is always over 10%. It doesn’t get tougher than this.
Hugo – a sensible pick in Kelderman. His form is very good and after losing time in the crosswinds, he could get a little freedom at the end of the stage.
Hannah – goes with the break and Mollema. I think we’d all be happy to see him taking a win, he certainly deserves it.
Andy – goes left-field with Kudus. The Eritrean was 2nd to Lutsenko on a steep climb in 2017, but he’s never won a stage in a professional stage. The race has thrown up some surprises, but this would take the biscuit.
Ian – rolls out one of the big guns in Quintana. After a disappointing Tour de France, he seems to have hit a purple patch of form. The climb suits him and Movistar should be the strongest team in the closing stages. A very good pick.
Nick – goes for the other Colombian. López is one of the up and coming stars of the sport and claimed two stages in 2017. He’ll be expecting to put Quintana firmly in his place.
My pick – I have to agree with Nick, this is a wonderful finish for Miguel Ángel López, as long as the peloton can be arsed chasing.