Start: 1.15 pm
Arrival: from 5.20 pm
Distance: 168.4 km
With 1791 altimeters, this stage is a bit harder than Wednesday’s stage to Cabo de Gata, but again there is no hill that counts for the blue jersey. That also says enough. It is a typical Andalusia ride, straight from the Ruta del Sol. We start in the province of Málaga to end in that of Córdoba. So we get the whole ride through rolling roads and even the last six kilometers some ascending parts. The road book is, as usual, not very clear.
It’s simple: if Trek-Segafredo, Arkéa-Samsic, BikeExchange-Jayco, Alpecin-Deceuninck, Bora-hansgrohe (and why not Cofidis with Coquard?) work together, it will be difficult for the possible breakaway group to avoid a bunch sprint. But it could just as well be that a puncher does his thing in the last kilometer. This may have been bacon for the mouth of the Wednesday crashed world champion Julian Alaphilippe. Other strong bears that we do not include in the list are Fred Wright, Patrick Bevin or the Spaniards Luis León Sánchez and Jesús Herrada.
*** Mads Pedersen
** Bryan Coquard, Danny van Poppel
* Tim Merlier, Daryl Impey, Kaden Groves
These are the key moments:
At the start of the stage, the first eight to ten kilometers are uphill. The first part of the ride is more winding and hilly than the second part.
In principle, this is the terrain for a flight to take shape, but then we get a descent and the light goes up and down to Montilla, where another loop is drawn close to the city. In Andalusia this is the last ‘flat’ stage.
Here’s what you need to know:
* It is for the first time that Ronda is the start of a stage in the Vuelta a España. It is a town well known to John Degenkolb. At the start of his career, in 2014 he recorded his second of the four stage victories he would eventually achieve.
* Montilla is also a brand new arrival city in the Vuelta. Once there was a passage of the national round and an intermediate sprint took place.
* It is a wine town. At the end of the ride, the trail also winds past the vineyards. The wine region is called Montilla-Moriles.
* There is a chance that the riders will finish in the rain again, although the forecasts for the afternoon in Montilla indicate 30 degrees. Buienradar.nl talks about the chance of thunderstorms. The organization itself sent out a weather report on Wednesday evening in which thirty degrees are effectively predicted at the finish, but no rain.