Stage 10 of the Vuelta a España looks set to be a prime opportunity for the race's breakaway specialists. With percentages well over 10% and technical descent defining the final kilometres, the eventual victor must be a great climber and a devilish descender.
Stage 10 profile
The lap of Spain heads east along the Southern Spanish coastline. The riders depart from Roquetas del Mar, which has hosted the finish of the Clasica de Almeria since 2018. The town also hosted a Vuelta stage finish as recently as 2018 — Simon Clarke won from the breakaway that day, and Rudy Molard jumped 27 positions to move into the red jersey.
The first 150km are defined by a mixture of flat and hilly terrain, though none of the climbs are severe enough to be categorised. Almost all of these kilometres occur along the coastline, so there could be an increased chance of crosswinds.
An intermediate sprint occurs at kilometre 150 in Torre del Mar, and 15km later, the decisive Puerto de Almáchar begins. The second category climb is 10.9km in length and averages 4.9%. In typical Vuelta fashion, the ascent is irregular — the first 1.5km are steep, but the road then flattens off and even heads downhill for periods over the next 4km. However, the final 4.5km of the ascent are incredibly steep with percentages well over 10%. The most substantial differences can be made here.
They’ll be 16.5km left once the climb is crested, most of which is downhill. The road doesn’t flatten until there are a few kilometres remaining. The descent is very technical, with constant sharp corners breaking up the terrain. The best descenders can make a real impact in this phase of the race.
The stage concludes metres from the seafront in Rincón de la Victoria.
Chris Hamilton, Geoffrey Bouchard and Stan Dewulf in the breakaway on stage 7 (Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Before considering specific riders, we must first consider the breakaway’s prospects. Although the Puerto de Almáchar is steep enough to create gaps among the GC favourites, a long descent to the finish line may deter attacks. Primož Roglič holds the red jersey at present — he may be willling to give up the jersey to a rider not expected to threaten in the general classification. This works in the breakaway’s favour.
Conversely, the likes of Jack Haig and Felix Großschartner jumped up the GC via the stage 7 breakaway. They aren’t GC A-listers, but must be watched carefully and won’t be given the space to gain multiple minutes again.
Nonetheless, the breakaway looks likely to win the stage. Team DSM dominated the stage 7 breakaway, placing no fewer than five riders up the road. Romain Bardet collected KOM points whilst Michael Storer went on to win the stage — his first victory at WorldTour level. If they can place Chris Hamilton, Thymen Arensman and Martijn Tusveld in the breakaway again, they have a good chance of repeating that success.
Both Cofidis and AG2R Citroën have fallen out of GC contention — their best-placed riders are at least five minutes behind. This releases them to focus on stage hunting. Rémy Rochas and Guillaume Martin could be Cofidis’ best options — Martin won the KOM jersey last season. Clément Champoussin and Geoffrey Bouchard could be AG2R Citroën’s first choices.
Although Andreas Kron is in his first season at WorldTour level, the Dane has already recorded two WorldTour victories — he won stages at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Tour de Suisse. Kron is a good climber, but also possesses a quick sprint finish. If he arrives in Rincón de la Victoria in a group, he’ll be one of the favourites.
Although Astana - Premier Tech must tender to Alex Vlasov’s GC ambitions, they have a plethora of riders with the ability to challenge for the stage. The likes of Alex Aranburu, Luis León Sánchez, Ion Izagirre and Gorka Izagirre are dangerous from a breakaway group. They have all displayed descending skills too, so could make an impact on the way down the Puerto de Almáchar towards Rincón de la Victoria.
Other riders with a chance from the breakaway include Rui Oliveira, Rudy Molard, Jan Tratnik, Mauri Vansevenant and Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda.
We are backing Omar Fraile to win stage 10 of the Vuelta a España. Fraile hasn't finished in the top 100 on a single stage since he was 29th in the opening time trial. However, the 31-year-old possesses the skills needed to win from the breakaway here — he can excel on the technical descent to Rincón de la Victoria.
Cover image: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images