Friday’s Vuelta stage is known as a ‘flat’ stage. For Vuelta standards there are relatively few altimeters, but whether it will also turn out to be a sprint is still the question. We look ahead to the course and the favorites.
The tenth ride is one that travels along the Cantabrian coast. Based on the profile, you might initially be inclined to think that this is a stage for sprinters, but this seems more like a ride for strong refugees. More than two thousand vertical meters and cunning final kilometers are just a few ingredients that spice up the stage.
For the riders it is 185 kilometers cycling between Castro Urdiales and finish place Suances. Castro Urdiales is the easternmost town in the region. From here you can dive straight into the Basque Country, but Fernando Escartín decided to send the caravan exactly the other way. The starting place was inhabited long before the birth of Jesus Christ, so the city can boast a rich history. You will find all kinds of evidence of this, mainly in the city center. The Gothic Iglesía de Santa Maria de la Asunción, among others, is well worth a visit, as is the adjacent castle of Santa Ana.
Like many towns on the Cantabrian coastline, tourism and fishing are important sources of income in Castro Urdiales. Colorful fishing villages are interspersed with beautiful nature during the first, roughly a hundred kilometers. For sun worshipers there are beautiful, wide sandy beaches, but fans of steep cliffs and spectacular rock formations will also get their money’s worth.
After approximately seventy kilometers of course, the caravan arrives at the bay of Santander. However, the regional capital is skipped. Instead, the peloton drives to the quiet and beautifully situated maritime town of Suances. Just before the place where Paolo Bettini booked his last victory as a cycling pro in 2008, the interior is drawn. When you leave Torrelavega, the city of Manolo Saiz and three-time world champion Óscar Freire, the Alto de San Cipriano (4.3 km at 5%) awaits. After the only categorized climb of the day, the waves continue.
Mainly the final kilometers can sometimes determine the ride result. In the last two kilometers, the road surface rises by about five percent, just like in 2008. Here the legs will slowly but surely fill with lactic acid, while the speeds can still be quite high. Is anyone here able to talk away from the rest? Is a brave fugitive here holding off pursuers? Several scenarios can be unleashed in this finale. No, the GC men will not be throwing minutes here, but a few seconds will soon be caught or lost …
As mentioned, different scenarios can be unleashed on Friday’s stage. If the sprinter teams manage to keep it together, sprinters with the necessary power in the legs will again have a chance of day success here. Because the final is difficult to control, it is also a realistic option that a group of escapees stays ahead in this ride. The list of contenders therefore consists of a mix of fast arrivals and adventurers.
An arrival with a sloping finish street is eagerly included in the stage schedule by organizers, because it usually provides an attractive final. However, it is fair to say that the list of participants of this Vuelta contains few specialists in this field. No Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, Diego Ulissi or Julian Alaphilippe at the start. Few teams will be willing to control the game.
Sam Bennett – photo: Cor Vos
At Deceuninck-Quick-Step they will have marked this ride despite the necessary obstacles along the way. Sprinter Sam Bennett after all, here you will find a chance for sporting revenge. With two sprints won, the Irishman has shown to be the fastest finisher of this Vuelta on the flat, although the second stage victory was still taken away from him afterwards. Moreover, Bennett does not turn his hand for a difficult finish. For example, think back to his stage victory in the Tour of Burgos, where he beat his competitors with a difficult finish with a surprise attack.
That is why we also write Bennett as a top favorite here. Should his team succeed in keeping it together in the final, it remains to be seen whether Jasper Philipsen and Pascal Ackermann can compete with him again. If Bennett fails, the blue and white formation has Andrea Bagioli (seventh in the Brabantse Pijl) about an excellent alternative, while Zdeněk Štybar can also surprise here.
Rui Costa – photo: Cor Vos
Should a breakaway group manage to stay out of the pack, a different kind of riders will come into the picture. Rui Costa this Vuelta has already been on the attack several times, but despite a few places of honor, it has not yet managed to celebrate a victory. Astana has several riders who can compete for the victory here. Omar Fraile is one of those riders who will find a finish here that matches his qualities. The Bask was already close to a stage victory in Villanueva de Valdegovía, but then had to tolerate Michael Woods. Also a local Alex Aranburu can manage in this area. If a flight stays ahead, then Luis Leon Sanchez a dangerous candidate.
The very strong Movistar team is particularly equipped to help leader Enric Mas achieve a good final classification. However, that does not preclude his teammates from having the opportunity to win a stage themselves. Marc Soler proved this with a stage victory on the second day. Gets Friday Alejandro Valverde his chance? In his good years he would be on tricky arrivals like this top favorite, but now his once-vicious punch has been blunted. ‘The Imbatiddo’ hoping for a good day to rise above themselves.
Tim Wellens – photo: Cor Vos
Lotto Soudal also starts here with a chance of winning. Tim Wellens this Vuelta was already successful in Sabiñanigo, but his hunger for success will not be satisfied yet. In addition, he will find an opportunity to score mountain points again. The Belgian formation has a second trump card to play in the person of Stan Dewulf. If it stays together, they can play sprinter Gerben Thijssen.
NTT Pro Cycling is looking forward to Michael Valgren. The former winner of the Amstel Gold Race already finished fifth in the mountain stage to Formigal on Sunday, but will find a course that better suits his qualities. The Dane will play for EF Pro Cycling next season and will want to give his current team a nice farewell gift.
And the GC men? Although it is not expected that they will come to the fore in this stage, the expensive bonus seconds may well be a reason to show themselves here. However, this final does not seem difficult enough for the pure climbers. However, should it stick together, we shouldn’t be surprised when Primož Roglič is going to get involved in the fight for victory. After all, the Slovenian has a strong final shot, which could help him to get closer to the red leader’s jersey.
Favorites according to WielerFlits
**** Sam Bennett
*** Rui Costa, Omar Fraile
** Tim Wellens, Michael Valgren, Andrea Bagioli
* Alejandro Valverde, Alex Aranburu, Luis León Sánchez, Primož Roglič
List of participants Vuelta 2020
Weather & TV
The riders will have to deal with pleasant racing weather in Cantabria on Friday. The sun is shining, it is dry and the temperature is pleasant at 18 degrees Celsius. The wind comes from the north, but only has force 1.
The Vuelta a España is broadcast by Sporza in Eurosport. Both Eurosport (commentary by Sander Kleikers and Karsten Kroon) as Sporza (with Renaat Schotte and José de Cauwer) start with the live broadcast at 2.35 pm.
Tour 2020 – Etappe 10
Date: Friday October 30
Start: 12:45 pm in Castro Urdiales
Start of TV broadcast: 2.35 pm
Finish: between 17:03 and 17:29 Suances
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