Top Mañana: Vuelta a España – stage 19
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 19: Lleida to Andorra. Naturlandia, 154km
Rafal Majka – Bora-Hansgrohe
Two big days in the mountains, and I reckon this’ll be the one where the breakaway makes it. Majka’s come close a few times in this Vuelta; my money’s on him to get the win his aggressive riding deserves.
Miguel Ángel Lopez – Astana
Only a few seconds off the podium but he’s been there before and I don’t reckon he’s the kind of rider to settle for another short step. Lopez will go for broke or go down in flames.
Simon Yates – Mitchelton-Scott
The stage will play out with Yates watching his rivals from the back of the GC bunch, then choosing the perfect moment to attack, leaving them to fight amongst themselves over who is going to step on the gas to bring him back. A nice finish line time bonus over Valverde and his job is practically done…
Michal Kwiatkowski – Team Sky
Sky’s GC hopes are over, so they’ll be wanting to salvage some scraps with a stage win. The former world champion may not be on top form, but he’s still one of the best in the peloton. Come on, Kwiato, win one for the old gimmer.
Enric Mas – Quick Step
It’s a day where Lopez will fancy his chances but Mas, for one, is not going to give him an inch if he can help it. The Spaniard has been subtlety brilliant over the last few days, his condition apparently improving as the race goes on. Even though he’s got a podium position to protect, the 23-year-old is not going to pass up an opportunity to nab the stage if it comes along.
Stage 19 and we can just about see the end. We head back to the mountains, this time in Andorra, where Simon and Adam Yates happen to live. Only one climb on the menu, Col de la Rabassa, which is a bit of a monster. It should be an easy day for the GC teams to control, especially as bonus seconds will be very important, but you just never know.
Andy – he goes with Majka, who’s not quite been good enough to win from two excellent opportunities. I don’t think the break wins, but even if it did, Majka wouldn’t win from it.
Nick – the pick of López has to be a good one. The little Colombian is one of the best climbers in the race, but now sits 1:36 behind Yates. After winning two stages in 2017, he’s a good option for this climb, especially as he could get a little freedom.
Hannah – why not? Simon Yates is in glorious form and now riding on home roads. Despite his DS yelling for him to follow wheels, he’ll probably attack and try to take time on his rivals. It would certainly help heading into Saturday’s hellish stage.
Ian – if the break does win, Kwiatkowski is a great pick. The Pole is desperate to win a stage and Sky can use their whole squad to try and make the morning move. It’s certainly easier for him to win this stage compared to Saturday’s.
Hugo – it doesn’t strike me as a climb for Mas. His performance has been incredible over the last 18 stages and he’ll be challenging with the best, but I just don’t think he has enough to take the win.
My pick – no one has picked Valverde? We have a climb where the final 5km is relatively easy and a small sprint is likely. I’ll happily take Bala for the win. Vamos!