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Top Mañana: Vuelta a España – stage 11

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Breakaway chancers and a clutch of GC men: Rouleur’s team are split on how stage 11 of the Vuelta a España will pan out. But what do they know? The Cycling Mole assesses

Photographs: Luis Ángel Gómez
Vuelta 2018, Luis Ángel Gómez

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 11: 208km, Mombuey to Ribeira Sacra. Luintra

Vuelta 2018, stage 11

Hannh Troop

Wilko Kelderman – Sunweb

As one of the favourites lowest down on the GC this could be one for the Dutchman to take if they hit the line together as a group. He was also looking in good form on stage 9.

 

Hugo Gladstone

Valerio Conti  – UAE-Emirates

Simon Yates won last time the race did this same run-in two years ago. But in that bright red jersey of his, he’s in no position to make an opportunistic move this time. Instead I’m looking to another 2016 solo stage grabber: Valerio Conti. Although the Italian didn’t yield much when he got in the break on stage five, whether it’s from an escape or a bunch, the final little bump here is exactly the kind of launchpad he likes.

 

Andy McGrath

Alessandro De Marchi – BMC 

This irrepressible Italian breakaway artist has past pedigree at the Vuelta and was close a week ago in Roquetas de Mar, suggesting he’s got the legs. It’s just a case of picking the right BMC man, as the likes of Teuns or Roche could be stage-hunting in the day’s move instead.

 

Nick Christian

Enric Mas – Quick Step

Mas is probably too close to the GC to be allowed into the break but he’s not a real three-week contender and looked good on stage eight. A late dash on the bumpy run-in could do it for him.

 

Ian Cleverley
Steven Kruijswijk – LottoNL-Jumbo

The LottoNL-Jumbo stealth approach to top-ten Grand Tour GC results (see Kruijswijk and Roglic at the Tour) suggests I haven’t a hope in hell of landing this one, but in for a penny… With both the Dutchman and George Bennett sitting pretty currently, you’d think one of them might go for broke (what would Movistar do?) and try and take some time on this stage. I’m not holding my breath though.

 

Cycling Mole

Time for a monster breakaway. The race moves to Galicia, one of the most challenging areas of Spain. If you’ve ever been, you’ll know the roads are rarely flat and constantly turning. This is a stage which is far too hard for the sprinter, but not hard enough for the GC riders. That means, get your breakaway picks ready!

 

Hannah – okay, what’s going on here? It won’t be a GC finish and even if it was, Kelderman wouldn’t win the sprint. Must do better!

 

Hugo – I like the pick of Conti, a rider who already has a Vuelta win to his name. The diminutive climber is one that packs a real punch, but I’m concerned he might have to babysit Aru, as UAE are down a couple of riders.

 

Andy – standard pick of De Marchi, a very popular breakaway rider. Despite all his perceived success, he only has three wins in his pro career, although two of those did come in this race.

 

Nick – not sure what planet Nick is on.

 

Ian – this is getting worse. It’s beyond me how anyone can look at this profile and think Kruijswijk will win. Come on Ian, pull your socks up.

 

My pick – has to be a breakaway win and I’ll take the dangerous option and go with Steve Cummings. A rider who often finishes dead last, he’ll be looking for one good performance to force his way into the GB world championship team.