The La Vuelta heads into a few more mountains for another stage on Thursday. Stage 18 is not quite as difficult as the weekend stages but does feature multiple climbs. The riders travel 119 miles from Trujillo to Piornal. This includes an 8.4-mile final climb.
Can Enric Mas gain time on Remco Evenepoel? Stage 17 was interesting, with the final little kicker uphill, but ultimately, Evenepoel could keep up with Mas.
Let us examine Stage 18 and some possible winners and contenders among the picks to help with your cycling betting.
First, however, how did we get to this point? OK, this is a nice way of saying what happened to Primoz Roglic.
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The End Of La Vuelta Stage 16
As we mentioned, Stage 16 looked like any other, with just two miles to go. The Peloton was ready for a mass finish full of chaos. Then the chaos went up several levels almost in minutes.
First, Remco Evenepoel had a tire puncture somewhere in the 1.86 mile (3 km.) same-time zone. There was some debate if this occurred before or after the banner. Later, it was ruled that Evenepoel’s tire puncture did occur in the same time zone.
Now, let’s go back to what happened with Roglic. He charged up the little incline like a madman and was able to get some daylight. However, as things leveled out slightly, riders like Mads Pedersen caught up to him. Roglic pulled to the left and tried to get back in the stream.
That is when the problems started. With about 100 meters to go, the video shows Roglic slightly bumping shoulders with Fred Wright. That is not what brought the Slovenian rider down. There was some kind of debris on a white line going across the street. Roglic’s bike caught it directly, and went down hard. With blood everywhere, it was apparent he was quite injured.
Roglic’s numbers were oddly kept off some books, and ultimately he abandoned early Wednesday morning before Stage 17.
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Stage 18 First Look
Again, the profile here features more actual climbs than Stage 17. The 18th stage serves up three climbs in all. There is a Category 2 followed by two Category 1 ascents. The two first-category climbs are an identical 5% at 8.4 miles. None of these features rises of more than 7.2%.
Now, the second-category jaunt is just over two miles but goes up at 9.4%. There is a chance a rider tries to get away here, but it is still more than 50 miles to the finish line. Never say never, but that would be some herculean feat.
The Stage 18 Odds Table
There is hardly a dull moment at La Vuelta a Espana. Do you see Evenepoel? No. That is because he is down around +2500 to +3500. Among the bigger books, shop around, and one will find some intriguing numbers to try. Even Enric Mas at around +2000 is worth a look, along with Spaniard Juan Ayuso (also at +2000).
The key with Stage 18 is the inevitable battle between the breakaway and the “General Classification” contenders. Remember, a rider like Evenepoel just has to play defense. He has a 2:01 lead on Mas and almost five minutes on Ayuso. The Belgian rider can afford to let someone go up the road a bit.
Furthermore, these climbs resemble what riders saw in the first week. If anyone remembers, Evenepoel attacked during Stage 6 after getting his rhythm during Stage 4. Does he have to take a shot? No. Again, that is why he is not worth a bet, but riders like Mas, Carapaz and even a Pinot are.
Peacock will stream the stage live in the States just before 9 a.m ET. Also, note that Stage 18 is televised again on the Olympic Channel starting at 9.
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La Vuelta Stage 18 Predictions
The books are still in love with Richard Carapaz and Jay Vine. That is understandable. Out of the two, Carapaz can win if he is not shepherding teammate Carlos Rodriguez (fellow INEOS teammate).
If Thibault Pinot or Jay Vine has the legs, this stage is tailor-made for both to go away on that first ascent. Vine is our pick, with Ayuso as a long shot from the “GC.”
Get ready for a few more fireworks on Thursday, and follow us on Twitter for live updates.
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