Date: Thursday August 19
Finish: Alto de la Montaña de Cullera
Distance: 158.3 km
This is a pretty unusual stage profile. The first 75 km trends downhill – from 677 metres to sea level – and then the profile is almost dead flat as the peloton rides alongside the Balearic Sea on Spain’s east coast. Well, it’s flat until the final 1.9 km. That last 1.9 km takes the riders up to the Cullera Castle at an average gradient of 9.4%.
That’s very nearly as steep as the Mur de Huy, but longer. In other words, it’s hard enough to have an impact for the GC riders. It should be an interesting finale.
Who’s it for: Explosive climbers.
Dane Cash’s picks: This is a really tough one to pick. We’ve seen so many Grand Tour stages go to breakaways this year, and it’s possible that an escape will be allowed to stay clear here. That said, there will be some big names who like their chances on such a steep finale. Adam Yates looks like a great pick on this gradient and with his form, while Egan Bernal will also be a rider to watch. Primož Roglič is an obvious contender. Alejandro Valverde would have been a top favorite a few years ago; still, he’s a potential winner even now, as are his Movistar teammates Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López. I also like Maximilian Schachmann, who is very dangerous on shorter climbs. Lastly, Michael Matthews deserves a mention. It’s probably a bit too hard of a climb for him, but he’s finished as highly as fifth at La Flèche Wallonne, so it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for him to get in the mix in this finale.