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 before Moley runs his scathing eye over them and comes up with his own. Who will win?
Stage 8: 195km, Linares to Almadén
Elia Viviani – Quick Step
There’s a bit of resistance in the slope of the last 4km but not enough to have the sprinters doubting themselves. Not very imaginative, but I’ve got first dibs, so I’m going to have to go with Elia Viviani again.
Nacer Bouhanni – Cofidis
He has to get at least one more stage, right?
Matteo Trentin – Mitchelton-Scott
This nagging uphill finish will favour the Italian. If Sagan falters, expect the Mitchelton man to profit.
Steve Cummings – Dimension Data
He’s not exactly set the world alight this season but Cummings has not forgotten how to win a stage. Hopefully inspired by Ben King’s excellent stage 4 victory, I’m backing the king of the back of the pack lurkers to hit the front once again.
Pello Bilbao – Astana
I think the finish is too tricky for the real fast guys, so I’m following in Ian’s footsteps by going with a likeable longshot who also happens to be a capable all-rounder. I know exactly what the Mole is going to say and I don’t care.
This is designated a sprint stage, but in classic Vuelta style, it is a little complicated. The final 2km kicks up to 4% and the riders end the stage on a narrow uphill road. Not only that, but they have a switchback with around 300m to go. Riders should be concerned with three things: positioning, positioning, positioning.
Hugo – the man had first pick and goes with Viviani, I think we’d all have done the same. After making a royal mess of the last sprint, the Wolf Pack will be hungry for success.
Hannah – the pick of Bouhanni is the form selection. After an awful season, he took a brilliant win on Thursday. Sprinting is 90% confidence, that should help him.
Andy – the choice of Trentin frustrates me. The Italian was brilliant in 2017, but he’s failed to live up to those expectations in 2018. I would be amazed if he wins a stage in this race.
Ian – the classic Cummings pick. The man who punters continue to waste good money on. Expect to see big Stevo come home in last place.
Nick – he might not care, but here goes… Nick has picked Pello Bilbao. We’ve had some dodgy selections this week, but this takes the biscuit! The Basque rider is clearly out of form and having a poor race. There you go, Nick.
My pick – has to be Viviani. The Italian will be smarting after Thursday’s performance and he has the power required for the uphill sprint.