Each stage, the Rouleur panel of ‘experts’ will give their picks for the following day’s race. Top tipster Cycling Mole, meanwhile, will dismantle our choices and give his own prediction for the likely winner. Who will win?
Stage 2: 163.5km, Marbella – Camanito del Ray
Omar Fraile – Astana
A little kick at the end at Camanito del Rey suggests Dan Martin territory, but I’m plumping for Omar Fraile. Twice a winner of the Vuelta mountains jersey, the Basque has yet to win a stage in his home race and is desperate to put that record straight. He managed one at the Tour. He can do it again here.
Alejandro Valverde – Movistar
Straight into the hills: Vuelta, what are you like? One for the punchier GC contenders, and our star of the latest issue will nick it, probably from a Yates brother.
Nicolas Roche – BMC
Somewhat fighting the last war but Roche came third the last time the Vuelta finished on the Caminito del Ray in 2015, and neither Dumoulin nor Esteban Chaves are riding it this time. Punchy and not a GC contender so he’ll be allowed more leeway than most.
Dan Martin – UAE-Emirates
The final climb’s stats are not all that but it was enough to draw out the GC contenders when the 2015 Vuelta also paid a stage two visit. If that’s the form the race takes this time, then you have to consider fun-loving racer Dan Martin for such a finale. Not one to hold back just because it’s early the race, he has both the finish and hunger to commit for the stage and will have been encouraged by his overall Tour combativity prize – not to mention Rouleur’s Super Banana…
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
If anyone can go well on rolling terrain and power up a short climb to a finish then it’s Señor Sagan.
The stage ends with a climb of 7.1km at 2.8%. That doesn’t sound too hard, but the final kilometres rise at around 6%. Hannah’s pick of Sagan is sensible and he would win this race if it was in France, but his current form is a little unreliable. Nick’s gone with Roche, based on his performance from 2015, but this is a different finish. It’s not hard enough for Dan Martin, but Ian and Andy are both on the right lines. The winner will be a fast puncheur.
My pick – Michal Kwiatkowski