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 10: 177km, Salamanca to Bermillo de Sayago
Elia Viviani – Quick Step Floors
He’s got the legs and one of the best lead-out men in Michael Mørkøv. The team rather messed it up on stage 6, but if they can iron out the issues with this more straightforward run-in, I’m expecting win number two for the Italian champ on this Vuelta.
Eduard Prades – Euskadi-Murias
As I keep chopping and changing my selections and getting the right rider but the wrong stage, I’m going back to Prades, who did me proud on stage 7 by finishing fourth. This guy’s good. So the break to stay away (there’s a lot of hot and bothered tired legs out there) and Eduard to finish it off. Boom!
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
That it’s possible to look at a profile like the above and not think a bunch sprint is a foregone conclusion is testament to the Vuelta’s superiority among the Grand Tours. Still, I think there’s just about enough motivation left in the bunch to bring back a modest break, and no-one more personally driven than the World Champion to grab one last win in the rainbows.
Danny van Poppel – LottoNL-Jumbo
I was originally going to go with Valverde for stage 10 as he seems to be the master of all terrains…but as Van Poppel was hot on his heels on stage 8 and Sagan was already taken, I think Van Poppel is ready for a win.
Nacer Bouhanni – Cofidis
With Viviani poached from under my nose (I’d stuck with him through thick and thin), I’m going to have to go with the even less consistent Bouhanni. Fingers crossed that the third cat climb won’t be an issue for him (it shouldn’t be) and, if he rides the right wheels, the otherwise straightforward finish should be to his suiting.
The rest day is over and the peloton should be super motivated for an easy sprint stage. We do have a cat 3 climb to get over, but this will be the first full sprint since the 3rd stage.
Andy – clearly had the first pick and goes with Viviani. He has one win, but mistakes have appeared in the QuickStep sprint train. A straight finish is good news for them.
Ian – dearly me. Poor Ian has decided to go for the break, which is a poor choice. Not only that, but he chooses a rider that doesn’t appear in many breaks. Back to the drawing board.
Nick – Sagan has to come good, doesn’t he? To beat Viviani in a flat sprint, he needs to be 100%. I’ll let you judge if he is.
Hugo – everyone loves a fighter and Bouhanni is certainly one of them. I’m still amazed he won the last sprint, that was one hell of an achievement. With a limited sprint train, he has little chance of a repeat.
Hannah – with a 2nd and 3rd place, Van Poppel is one of the form riders. In training he has the same power output as Dylan Groenewegen, if he can replicate that in the finish, he has a chance of success.
My pick – has to be Viviani.