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Vuelta a España 2019 stage 18: Communidad de Madrid. Colmenar Viejo -Becerril de la Sierra > 177.5 km

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This stage is perfect for Fuglsang.

However, it is also the hardest of the 2 mountain stages left in the race, so all of Astana will be dedicated to trying to get Lopez to the podium.

I see people like Fraile and Sanchez in the early break, and Fuglsang and an Izagirre going away at the bottom of the 2nd last climb, all to set up Lopez for his attack.
If he is brave, it is 5k from the top of the 2nd last climb, to catch Fuglsang at the top and ride his wheel on the decent, but it will probably be on the last climb.

Jumbo will ride defensively, possibly with a couple of their heavier guys in the early break, for safety..... I see them letting the early break get a lot of time, to save themselves for the last 2 climbs.

UAE will probably also send a couple of guys up the road early, as many of them are otherwise blown out the back on the first climbs.

Movistar? - Who the f*ck knows :D
 
If the break gets too far ahead it won't do any good to have anyone out in the break.

I also expect Quintana to lose time again because that's the typical MO with him. If he gains time on the flat he'll lose part of it in the mountains.
 
The climb profiles from cyclingcols don't really do justice to the climbs tomorrow, as they are shorter and steeper if the distance from bottom to finish is measured correctly. Morquera from the south side will be the place to do something as Navacerrada comes too early.
 
This has to be a day for Astana to tear it up, if they still have any hopes of getting MAL onto the podium. I think this will make it a GC day. I lean towards Roglic for the stage win.

It's also interesting for the KOTM. I am hoping Bouchard has enough in the tank to get maximum points over the first and possibly second climbs, before the GC action fully kicks off. The danger is Tao Geoghegan Hart, who sits 21 points behind and will surely be looking for the break also but might be more focused on a stage win than closing the gap in KOTM. If that happens then Bouchard might be able to wrap it up today.
 
Thomas de Gendt , Wout Poles, Tao G Hart, Ion Izagirre , Jonathan Lastra , Angel Madrazo,, Óscar Rodríguez , Sergio Higuita,Gianluca Brambilla , Danni Navarro
Mikel Nieve in the break

Frosty the Snowman FTW
 
There should be lot of GC action but I still think a few survivors from a presumably huge breakaway of 30-40 riders will fight for the victory.

Riders in the break from Movistar, Astana and UAE will mainly be used tactically.

Tao to finally get his win in a sprint of 3?
 
Jumbo domestiques will be rolling their eyes. How much will Movistar force the pace on the stage is the question. Who will have the most tired legs of the top five ? So far Roglic has looked solid on the climbs but Movistar will have to try a few things to see how Roglic and his team cope after yesterday. It's either that or settle for two podiums if Quintana can hang on. Lopez and Pogacar will want to attack but it's all about recovery at this stage of the race especially after yesterday. Jumbo have certainly made the final week much harder for themselves.
 
Jumbo domestiques will be rolling their eyes. How much will Movistar force the pace on the stage is the question. Who will have the most tired legs of the top five ? So far Roglic has looked solid on the climbs but Movistar will have to try a few things to see how Roglic and his team cope after yesterday. It's either that or settle for two podiums if Quintana can hang on. Lopez and Pogacar will want to attack but it's all about recovery at this stage of the race especially after yesterday. Jumbo have certainly made the final week much harder for themselves.
Of the 5 Quintana is the one that appeared the most fatigued at the finish line. He dropped 10 seconds to the group he was with while the other 4 put some time into the group they were with. Also remember Movistar didn't exactly bring many climbing domestiques to this race for some reason.
 
He dropped 10 seconds to the group he was with while the other 4 put some time into the group they were with.
I love how you say these things so matter-of-factly.

I would probably have been a little surprised if the likes of Carl Fredrik Hagen, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Héctor Sáez had just tore away in the finishing straight, leaving Valverde, Roglic, López and Pogacar for dead.

You're entering El Pistolero-level.
 
Looking at those gradients, for the teams that want to attack the GC, the game plan has to be to bridge. Either that or go for a mountain raid, but the only guy on the start line who can pull that off is cooked. So Astana and Movi will flood the break and dare Jumbo to roll it back. So, unfortunately, I don't see anyone pilling on the pressure until the penultimate climb. The break may even take it. Hope I'm wrong.
 
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Well Quintana did drop 10 seconds at the end of the stage.
A Colombian climber who had been taking turns on the front of a 200+km stage, dropped 10 seconds in the final 400m to Philippe Gilbert, who had been sitting in the wheels for the previous 40km. And 8 to Sam Bennett. And 1 second to Max Walscheid.

For further context, Quintana finished 20 seconds ahead of Stybar, who was caught with less than half a km to go.
 

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