Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vuelta a España: Stage 7 Preview & Favorites

What an effort from Tony Martin on stage 6. Alone in front from the start to the end, well almost to the end. Fabian Cancellara got a jump on the Argos-Shimano train and performed a perfect leadout for Michael Mørkøv who won the stage. This is only the second professional win in Mørkøv’s career. The first one came in June earlier this year when he won the Danish Championship. Impressive.

Stage 7 is another flat stage and after missing out on Thursday, I’m sure the sprinters’ teams won’t take any chances. The peloton continues south into Andalucía and without a single categorized climb, this won’t be a difficult day in the saddle. The GC riders will have their mind fixed on tomorrow’s mountain stage and they will hope for a quiet day in the peloton.

Everybody managed to stay upright despite the technical finish on stage 6 and hopefully the same will happen Friday afternoon. Once again the race organizers have put in numerous obstacles on the final kilometers. Six roundabouts within the last three kilometers are what the riders have to overcome. The last one, turning right, is placed just 700 meters from the line. The road slightly bends to the left on the last 300 meters and first rider out of this bend most likely wins the stage.

It’s another technical finish but luckily the riders will have a chance to get to know it before it counts. There is an intermediate sprint on the finishing line with 31.4 km to go and knowing the route will hopefully keep everybody upright in the final.

Argos-Shimano almost managed to set up Ramon Sinkeldam perfectly on stage 6. Tony Martin’s strong effort made them take the lead a little too early and they paid for their work in the end. Sinkeldam was extra motivated to win on his wife’s birthday but despite great legs, he couldn’t do better than 15th place. As I mentioned yesterday, this isn’t Argos-Shimano’s top leadout team. It’s a young team but they still show a lot of power taking the lead. I think it will be a “normal” bunch sprint on stage 7 and if they manage to set up Ramon Sinkeldam again, he could take the peloton by surprise.

The final 5 kilometers of stage 7. Click for larger view.
Like Argos-Shimano, also GreenEdge have a couple of strong guys for the sprints. Michael Matthews is obviously the fastest one right now but a flat sprint like this one is probably better for Leigh Howard. Matthews said that everything now is just a bonus but I’m sure the Australians are very eager to take another win. Matthews is now riding in the green points jersey and the despite the many mountains, this could be a goal for him. It won’t be easy but if GreenEdge decides to go for him in all the sprints, I can’t see why he shouldn’t win a handful more stages.

Max Richeze has been second the last two days in a row and he’s definitely one of the favorites for this stage. The Argentinian sprinter is getting better and better as the race goes on. He doesn’t have that final leadout rider to deliver him in the sprints but he’s very fast on the final meters. Richeze needs to get on the right wheel and he if manages so, he could very well end up winning this stage.

Tyler Farrar couldn’t to better than fourth place on stage 6 but to be fair, Farrar was very fast in the end. The American’s big problem is his positioning. Personally, I don’t understand why Garmin doesn’t wait until the end before taking the lead. Alex Rasmussen is a brilliant leadout rider and if Farrar enters the last bend on the wheel of Rasmussen, he will be extremely difficult to beat.

Omega Pharma Quickstep will most likely try to set up Gianni Meersman again on stage 7. The Belgian sprinter doesn’t seem to be as fast as Matthews and Richeze right now but with a little bit of luck, Omega Pharma Quickstep may finally take a stage win.

I also have to mention Michael Mørkøv among the candidates after his impressive win on stage 6. The Danish Champion said he was sure he would win when he saw the finish line on the wheel of Cancellara. Obviously he’s in great shape right now. Usually, Mørkøv works hard for his teammates but after his win in Cáceres, I’m sure he will be eager to try again in Mairena Del Aljarafe.

The way I see it, there is 95 % chance of this stage ending in a bunch sprint. A break will definitely get away in the beginning but they know it’s almost doomed. It’s usually local riders and riders from the smaller teams who get into these kind of breakaways and as one of the semi-locals, look out for Luis Angel Maté. El Lince Andaluz is not afraid of attacking despite poor chances of succeeding and I’m sure we will see the Cofidis rider in a break soon. If not this Friday then definitely in the weekend.

Eurosport is covering this year’s Vuelta a España intensively. Before and after each stage you will get inside information from the many interviews with the riders. The interviewer is Spanish journalist Laura Meseguer. She knows what’s going on inside the peloton and each day she will get you her own personal winner picks for the stage.

For Stage 7, Laura picks Michael Matthews to win. 

For live coverage of the stage go to


  1. I'm really enjoying your previews.
    I use them to help me update fantasy cycling team as I don't know that much myself.
    You make some good predictions.


  2. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoy the previews!