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 15: Ribera de Arriba to Lagos de Covadonga, 178km
Miguel Ángel López – Astana
Lagos de Covadonga is one of those climbs that defines the Vuelta. A day I feel for López, a rider who’s both in form and last year proved himself twice on big summit finishes.
George Bennett – Lotto-NlJumbo
Got to be a GC day, although after seeing that Luis Angel Maté has fifth fastest time on Strava for the Covadonga, I was tempted to go with him. (Robert Gesink has the KOM in case you were wondering.) Could have been either Lotto rider but I tossed a coin and am going with the New Zealander.
Nairo Quintana – Movistar
Quintana ticks all the boxes: he knows the climb well, having won here in 2016, this is a climber’s climb suiting an in-form rider, we’re a fortnight in and he has impressive powers of recovery. What’s more, it’s a legendary Vuelta finish where he can make a difference, giving that little bit more incentive to sweep up the day’s escape.
Rigoberto Uran – EF Education First-Drapac
He’s been looking in good form and I think might be buoyed by team-mate Simon Clarke’s win on stage 5 to take another for the team. They need them this season.
Simon Yates – Mitchelton-Scott
This is the big GC shake-up stage, surely? Yates looked cool as you like taking stage 14. I can see him repeating the feat.
Stage 15 and we head for Lagos de Covadonga. One of the hardest climbs in the race, it’s one that will help define the GC battle. Today we saw the peloton actually chasing the morning break, mainly due to Kwiatkowski being there. With Mitchelton-Scott back in control of the red jersey, this looks like a day for the breakaway, such a shame the writers didn’t get the memo! They’ve all gone with GC picks, we shall see who’s right (it’ll be me).
Andy – he might have lost a little time today, but this is a climb Quintana will look forward to. He won here in 2016 and this is his chance to put time into his main rivals. Will we see the real Quintana?
Hannah – the pick of Uran isn’t the best. The Colombian seems to be hanging on to the main contenders and I can’t see him taking the win.
Hugo – López looked very strong today, sending a big message out to the other riders. His refusal to work with Quintana cost him the chance of winning the stage, he needs to get his tactics right in this stage. The Colombian is a brilliant climber and this could be his day.
Nick – poor Nick should spend more time watching the race instead of checking Strava. No chance for the likeable Kiwi.
Ian – after winning today, Ian is back on Simon Yates. The boy from Bury rode a clever stage, only making efforts when he really needed to. He then timed his attack to perfection, something he’s rather good at. If he wins this stage, there is every chance he holds onto the red jersey until Madrid.
My pick – as I said, I think the break will win. I’ll go with Bauke Mollema, I think we’d all be happy with that.