Vuelta a España Vuelta a España 2023, stage 8: Dénia - Xorret de Catí, 165.0k

Round one of the annual Spanish wallclimbing championships. With Martinez in red, it's not as good an opportunity for the breakaway as the previous mountain stage, but this is not the easiest stage to control.

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The start is in Dénia, at the northern end of the land of second home owners and beach tourists that is the Costa Blanca. Not much of the stage is on the coast proper, but of course the developments have long since grown beyond the actual coast - the proof is in the name attached to the finish. Speaking of the coast, the riders won't be seeing much of it today, and this results in the first few kilometres being what is almost the only flat section of the day. We soon leave the coast to tackle the Alto de Vall d'Ebo, right in the area that was so badly hit by wildfires last year.
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After a short descent, the riders head up the road to Alcalà de la Jovada. This road is mostly a false flat, interspersed by some surprisingly steep ramps.
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This is followed almost immediately by Puerto de Tollos, where the overall gradient rises but the climbing is just as irregular.
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After an easier section, the riders hit a longer, but mostly more gradual climb - Puerto de Benifallim.
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Its descent backs immediately into Puerto de la Carrasqueta, the day's portion of highway-style climbing as well as the bonification point.
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While there are no more categorised climbs before the pseudo-MTF after this, the roads don't exactly become flat. Just after the intermediate sprint in Ibi, there is the Puerto de Ibi which could arguably have been a cat. 3.
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The trek towards the bottom of the final climb is completed by heading over the final 2.7k of Alto de Banyeres...
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...and the final 4.5k of Puerto de Onil.
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And then, the main act. This is the seventh time this climb features in the Vuelta, in addition to its appearances in the men's and women's stage races in this part of Spain, and hence it should need no introduction. From the summit, it's the usual short, untechnical descent that doesn't last quite until the line, allowing for a sprint for the win if necessary.
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Pretty similar climb to Les Praeres where Evenepoel smoked everyone last year. If he has that level again tomorrow, for sure nobody is dropping him, so if he does drop it will be a clear indicator that he isn't at last year's level when combined with Javalambre. As it is, I do think that Jumbo are reasonably likely to land another blow, Roglic in particular should like this finish. On the other hand I could also see the big 4 finish together, steep gradients don't force the separation they used to.

As for the red jersey - Kuss has been a lot less inconsistent this year compared to previous years, so you have to make him the favourite to hold the jersey at the end of the day. Then again, it should be a good climb for someone who's 52 kilograms...
 
Pretty similar climb to Les Praeres where Evenepoel smoked everyone last year. If he has that level again tomorrow, for sure nobody is dropping him, so if he does drop it will be a clear indicator that he isn't at last year's level when combined with Javalambre. As it is, I do think that Jumbo are reasonably likely to land another blow, Roglic in particular should like this finish. On the other hand I could also see the big 4 finish together, steep gradients don't force the separation they used to.

As for the red jersey - Kuss has been a lot less inconsistent this year compared to previous years, so you have to make him the favourite to hold the jersey at the end of the day. Then again, it should be a good climb for someone who's 52 kilograms...
Kuss will be in the break again.
 
Pretty similar climb to Les Praeres where Evenepoel smoked everyone last year. If he has that level again tomorrow, for sure nobody is dropping him, so if he does drop it will be a clear indicator that he isn't at last year's level when combined with Javalambre. As it is, I do think that Jumbo are reasonably likely to land another blow, Roglic in particular should like this finish. On the other hand I could also see the big 4 finish together, steep gradients don't force the separation they used to.

As for the red jersey - Kuss has been a lot less inconsistent this year compared to previous years, so you have to make him the favourite to hold the jersey at the end of the day. Then again, it should be a good climb for someone who's 52 kilograms...
Quick Step torching the run into Praeres last year helped Evenepoel heaps last year. You can't take those gaps at face value, and I don't think you can be absolutely certain Evenepoel is the best in the world on a 15 minute climb.
 
Quick Step torching the run into Praeres last year helped Evenepoel heaps last year. You can't take those gaps at face value.
You really don't think he would have dropped everyone regardless?

In addition, he also smoked everyone on Erlaitz a few weeks beforehand and that isn't too much less steep. This is actually fairly good terrain for him, hence why he can't afford to lose time.
 
Quick Step torching the run into Praeres last year helped Evenepoel heaps last year. You can't take those gaps at face value, and I don't think you can be absolutely certain Evenepoel is the best in the world on a 15 minute climb.
I can tell you this much: Vingegaard, and particularly Pogacar, is stronger than Evenepoel at a 15 min effort at 100%.
 
You really don't think he would have dropped everyone regardless?

In addition, he also smoked everyone on Erlaitz a few weeks beforehand and that isn't too much less steep. This is actually fairly good terrain for him, hence why he can't afford to lose time.
He would have. But he was also the best on the normal climbs in the first 12 stages of the Vuelta last year. Erlaitz was really strong too but he would've dropped everyone in that CSS on a 5k 9% climb too
 
Ah, Xorret de Cati is shorter than I remembered, but really steep. But at today‘s speeds, they will fly up these kilometers.

If de Lie cruises up the Muur on the big chainring, then Primoz or Remco (almost) should be able to speed up Xorret on the big ring.

Maybe a stage win for Gregoire, tomorrow?…
 
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Ah, Xorret de Cati is shorter than I remembered, but really steep. But at today‘s speeds, they will fly up these kilometers.

If de Lie cruises up the Muur on the big chainring, then Primoz or Remco (almost) should be able to speed up Xorret on the big ring.

Maybe a stage win for Gregoire, tomorrow?…

450 vertical meters of Muro on a big ring? Bike technology, tail wind and other stuff are good but they are not that fast!
 
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Ah, Xorret de Cati is shorter than I remembered, but really steep. But at today‘s speeds, they will fly up these kilometers.

If de Lie cruises up the Muur on the big chainring, then Primoz or Remco (almost) should be able to speed up Xorret on the big ring.

Maybe a stage win for Gregoire, tomorrow?…
Remco has been doing too much bodybuild training, he's built like a Gorilla, not sure he can drop the others in xoret di cati.
 

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