Tour d’Espagne 2022 – Pays basque, pentes vertigineuses : les favoris à pied d’œuvre

Tour d’Espagne 2022 – Pays basque, pentes vertigineuses : les favoris à pied d’œuvre

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The week of all dangers. After a short interlude (3 stages) in Dutch lands, the peloton will drop anchor on the contours of the indomitable roads of the Basque maquis. The pitfalls will be numerous, and it will be necessary to get up early to apprehend them, under penalty of seeing the sanction thicken at the speed of a fog on the Basque heights. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers), Simon Yates (BikeExchange – Jayco), etc. All are expected at the turn and by Sunday, it’s a safe bet that the lines will have moved. Focus on the stages likely to upset the general classification.

Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) take on the first week on Spanish soil of Vuelta 2022

Credit: Eurosport

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Alaphilippe, Roglic, Hayter… who will win the 4th stage? The prognosis of our consultants

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Stage 4: Roglic already bleeding on the heights of Laguardia?

The first reliefs of the 2022 vintage stand out from the 4th stage, the first on Spanish territory. If no favorite should move an ear before the last raid, it is not excluded that the first differences in (slight) altitude arise on the heights of Laguardia. On such a short and attic pitch (0.9 km at 8.4%), Primoz Roglic naturally appears as one of the favorites for victory.

The Slovenian from the Jumbo-Visma is fond of these brief efforts, and his second place at the Flèche Wallonne 2021 speaks for him. Simon Yates (BikeExchange) also has arguments to put forward when the road rears up excessively, like Richard Caparaz. At Quick-Step, Julian Alaphilippe should have his hands free to shine on a ground that does not necessarily suit the seated and powerful style of Remco Evenepoel. In Laguardia, a first hierarchy could emerge. Our Eurosport consultant Juan Antonio Flecha, for his part, hopes for a first offensive from the Belgian prodigy: “The end of the stage will be different and it could be the first great demonstration of Evenepoel.”

The profile of the 4th stage: Place for the first reliefs

Stage 5: Evenepoel for a solo victory in Bilbao?

But the Flemish jewel will above all find a field to suit it the next day, on an irregular and winding route, as the Basque Country cheerfully offers. Potentially in difficulty the day before, Remco Evenepoel should take advantage of a field to his measure to grab a few grains of time on Wednesday. Once at the top of the second ascent of the day of the demanding Alto del Vivero (4.6 km at 8%), there will be 14.2 km to swallow until the outskirts of Bilbao.

The Basque macadam is familiar to the Belgian prodigy, twice winner of the Klasikoa (2019, 2022). In a similar register, Evenepoel won his first monument during Liège-Bastogne-Liège this year, after a cannon shot in the last 15 kilometers. For the form, the Belgian is on point. On the merits, will the latter take the risk of engaging in large widths from the fifth stage? In any case, many call it their wishes.

The profile of the 5th stage: Baroudeurs vs puncheurs for an undecided scenario

Step 6: The first big explanation?

The tricky paths set aside, make way for the traditional hill climb in Cantabria, still to the north of the peninsula. The peloton will probably approach the first slopes of the ascent of Pico Jano (1st category, 12.6 km at 6.5%) with the ranks still tight and grouped. The foot is steep but difficult to bet on an offensive so far from the top from the 6th stage. The second half of the climb is more rolling, and it seems illusory to envisage a great explanation at loggerheads between the best climbers. Patience, there is still plenty to do until Sunday.

The profile of the 6th stage: An arrival at the top to outline the hierarchy

Stage 8: Collau Fancuaya, encounter with a giant from Asturias

A true colossus of Asturias. 10.1 kilometers at 8.5% with passages at nearly 20%: the Collau Fancuaya has enough to raise the few hairs under the shorts. If some favorites had taken it into their heads to play placed, it was a waste of time on Saturday with the final ascent of the day. On the program, a hill climb where the last three kilometers should cause the first major failures of this Vuelta.

If he has not recovered all his physical means since his abandonment on the Tour, Primoz Roglic will no longer be able to hide, in the same way as Richard Carapaz, still very tender during the Tour of Poland (22nd). On such percentages, the Yates-Hindley duo could sparkle. The emaciated profiles will have a card to play, less the versatile rollers like Evenepoel, even if the Belgian insists on his weight loss. Sufficient to hold the wheel of the treetop tamers?

The profile of the 8th stage: New arrival at altitude

Stage 9: Failure alert on the terrible slopes of Les Praeres

His profile inspires fear. The anguish of cracking, but above all of experiencing a real ordeal, the front wheel off the bitumen and the back hunched over the machine. Faced with this kind of slopes, the fight for the general takes a back seat, behind the urgency of overcoming the 4 kilometers (12.9%) of Les Praeres (from Nava), a sort of mortuary procession cut at the tip of an evil trident. A figure that will convince you: 24%. Or passages worthy of a mountain bike course.

The famous catchphrase encouraging the election of harder and longer passes to do the gaps is not about to be buried. But with such percentages, difficult to climb the meters at an unbeatable speed. There will therefore not necessarily be big differences between the strong men of this 2022 vintage. For the couriers on borrowed time on their mount, the addition is likely to be severe. The difference will be made from the back, and it risks scratching with a crash some high-sounding names from the fight for the red overcoat.

The profile of the 9th stage: 3.9 km at 12.9% for a final labeled Vuelta

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