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 21: Alcorcón to Madrid, 101km
Elia Viviani – Quick Step
Sam Bennett knows how to beat Viviani in a flat sprint but, fortunately for the Italian, I don’t think anyone else does, and the Irishman’s not here. This should make up for the disappointment of Rome in May.
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
Giacomo Nizzolo – Trek-Segafredo
You know how it goes. We make our excuses about the best picks having already been taken and cross our fingers that our outsider gets his breakthrough. If we did this Top Mañana lark again, we’ll need new rules: a roster for first dibs and a blanket ban on disclaimers. Go go Giacomo, I totally think you can do it.
Alessandro de Marchi – BMC Racing
I’m bored with the sprinting game now. De Marchi goes long from a kilometre out and holds off the charging pack. It’s the Vuelta, for Pete’s sake, so why not?
Iván Garcia – Bahrain-Merida
Look, Viviani and Sagan have been picked, one of those will win so I’m just trolling you with the Spaniard. The last three weeks have been fun, glasses of Estrella all round. Cycling Mole, how did we do?
So, we’ve reached Madrid. The race ends with the usual procession around the streets of the capital and a big sprint finish. Instead of looking at the picks, it’s time to review the achievements of the last three weeks.
Hannah – the Richie Porte of the competition. Poor Hannah endured a torrid Vuelta and will be glad it’s finished. Zero wins and no longer trusted as a team leader!
Ian – just one win and it was the opening stage with Rohan Dennis. We learned that Ian has a love affair for Eduard Prades, rumour has it he has his poster in the office.
Hugo – won the opening sprint stage with Viviani, but faded after that. I feel sorry for Hugo, his picks were good but it just didn’t work out.
Nick – two wins, with Dennis and Bouhanni. The pick of Bouhanni was a masterpiece and deserves a lot of credit. Unfortunately, he’ll be remembered for picking Mark Padun for stage 18, despite him quitting the race during stage 17…
Andy – takes home the office prize with 3 wins: Valverde, Viviani and De Marchi. A solid 3 weeks for Andy, but he’s still in the shadow of the mighty Mole.
The Holy Moley – 5 wins and 5 other podiums for me, not a bad 3 weeks. It’s been great fun matching up against the good writers of Rouleur magazine, but I’m not sure they agree. Coming up against a professional tipster was always going to be hard for them, but they did their best. Think my job is safe for the next wee while.
Stage 21 will be another for Viviani, make that 6 wins for me!