Vuelta a España 2022 stage 13 preview - another chance for the sprinters

One of the flatter stages of the race, but not without complications for the fast men

Vuelta a España 2022, stage 13
Distance: 168.4 kilometres
Start location: Ronda
Finish location: Montilla
Start time: 12.15 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.30 BST

A relatively short stage, and one likely to be for the sprinters, stage 13 of the 2022 Vuelta a España picks up where stage 12 left off, or at least, a few kilometres north, still in the province of Malaga. Another starting town appearing for the first time in the race’s history, Ronda is a spectacular city set above the El Tajo gorge, which divides the city’s two halves – circa-15th-century new town from its old town, dating to Moorish rule. Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge, has a lookout offering views.

Vuelta a España 2022 stage 13 map and profile

The route departs Ronda and travels immediately south for a short distance, all of which is ridden uphill – around 12km in total. It will make life difficult for the breakaway, but if it hasn’t been established by the time they hit the apex of the first climb and turn back northwards, there may be opportunities on the long stretch of descent that follows – it’s around 23km before there’s another bump and the sprinters’ teams will have to work hard to keep things together on a day where the finish absolutely favours a bunch dash.

The rest of the day is undulating, with small bumps, a few extended sections heading downhill and some flat. It shouldn’t prove too taxing although at this stage in the race, the fatigue may have begun to set in, especially for the sprinters who have had some difficult days of climbing to contend with.

The route works its way north-west at first through the province of Malaga, before turning dead north and winding through the small, languid, palm-fronded towns of Campillos and Sierra de Yeguas as the peloton heads deeper into the arid land of Andalucia and briefly crosses the border into Castile-la-Mancha. Heading north-west from there, through the province of Toledo and into Córdoba, where the riders still battling for the green jersey will contest an intermediate sprint in the town of Espejo. Bonus seconds will also be available here, before the route swings back south to cover the final 15km towards the day’s finish town of Montilla.

The Andalucian town is famous for its wine production, in particular dry white wine and sherry, and the peloton will pass through rolling vineyards on their way towards the finish, facing a gentle upward gradient as they head into the final 5km. 

Moving past the Flamme Rouge there is one sharp right hander for the bunch to navigate safely on their way to the line. The final kilometre inclines upwards so the sprinters will have to work hard if they want to take the win.

Vuelta a España 2022 stage 13 predictions and contenders

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is the type of rider with the strength to win uphill, but he’ll have a fight on his hands from the likes of stage 11 winner Kaden Groves (Team BikeExhangeJayco) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Deceuninck). Danny van Poppel of BORA-Hansgrohe is now taking up the mantle as the German team's sprinter following the abandon of Sam Bennett due to Covid-19, and he may also suit today's uphill finish. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) will also relish the attritional, draggy run-in to the line and could go for a stage win today. Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates), John Degenkolb (Team DSM), Dan McLay (Arkea Samsic) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) are outsiders who could also be in with a chance of a surprise victory.

Prediction: It looks like this is a day tailor-made for Mads Pedersen. The Trek-Segafredo rider thrives in complicated finishes and will have the upper hand on his rivals as the road kicks up slightly. He's had three second place finishes so far this race – one of which was behind Primož Roglič on stage four's uphill steep finish – so Pedersen will be especially hungry for victory today.