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 3: 178km, Mijas -Alhaurín de la Torre
Nacer Bouhanni – Cofidis
So the French bruiser has had a so-so season up to now, and is probably still sulking from not being selected for the Tour, but I’m backing him to come out swinging in the early sprint stages.
Alexis Gougeard – AG2R La Mondiale
I don’t think the sprinters and their teams will have the climbing chops to get over the earlier mountains and bring everything together. Ag2r have got a team of powerful, aggressive riders to sniff out stage wins at the Vuelta – and glutton for punishment Gougeard still loves a break more than the rest of them put together.
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
Does indeed feature a big bloody hill but early enough that, unlike Mr McGrath, I think it won’t be enough to stop the race finishing together. That Slovakian lad’s good, isn’t he?
Elia Viviani – Quick Step
Sprint or break, sprint or break? Those muscle-bound warriors don’t have many opportunities in the Vuelta, so where better than on a stage that passes through Torremolinos in the closing kilometres. And if this officially classified medium mountain stage has proved controlled enough to come down to a sprint, then there’s no reason Elia Viviani won’t be there to win it.
Max Walscheid – Sunweb
Rumoured as Germany’s next big sprinter and lining up for his first Grand Tour, I think that Team Sunweb will go all in to position Walscheid for taking this stage win.
Starts with a climb of 20.1km at 4.9%, which is not what the sprinters want to hear. Due to the nature of the stage, the chase won’t properly start until 60km to go. Will the sprint teams have enough time to bring the break back? Coming so early in the race, I think the peloton will have enough resources to kill the break and set up a sprint. Hannah’s pick of Walscheid is interesting, he struggles to get over a speed bump.
My pick – Elia Viviani