La Vuelta España Femenina Preview: Stage 7

When to watch, and what to watch out for, in the seventh stage of La Vuelta Femenina.

Stage 7: San Esteban de Gormaz to Sigüenza (138.6)

When: Saturday, May 4

Where to watch:  🇬🇧🇪🇺 Discovery +/Eurosport, 🇺🇸 Peacock, 🇨🇦 FloBikes, 🇦🇺 SBS

When to watch: 🇬🇧 13:30 BST, 🇪🇺 14:30 CEST, 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 8:30 EDT, 🇦🇺 23:30 AEST

Stage type: Flat

What to expect: A mini-Flèche Wallonne

Stage summary:

The penultimate stage of the race covers 138.6 km from San Esteban de Gormaz to Sigüenza, with no categorized climbing and very little prospect of wind. At first glance, and bookmarked by mountain stages, it looks like a pretty straightforward sprint stage, until you get a closer look at the finish.

The stage is a relatively “flat” one, with 1,183 meters of elevation gain that is backloaded into the stage, and unlike stage 4, it’s less likely to be affected by wind. In true Vuelta fashion, there are a few non-categorized climbs to start the day then roughly 50 km of flat before another chunk of non-categorized climbing. The hardest climb on the course is at 49 km to go, reaches 9% and is about 2 km long.

There are also a series of small ascents before the road descends to the finish, none over 1 km but some that get up to 5%. From 16 km to go it’s downhill to the finish in Sigüenza, but that’s where things get really interesting.

Some of the descent into town is on small roads, some with pretty bad surfaces, but it’s a fast descent. A few scenarios are possible.

  1. A rider is able to get away before the descent, in which case it would be harder to organize a chase because of the speed and the small roads. The peloton will be going fast, but in theory, a rider on her own is going at a similar speed. They wouldn’t have a huge gap if they went that late, but any gap is an advantage, you never know what could happen.
  2. Some riders are able to get away on the descent. A few riders in the peloton have demonstrated superior descending skills, they can mark this stage to test themselves. (Sidenote: it’s a bummer Anna Henderson is out; she’s a former downhill ski racer, and one of the best descenders in the peloton)
  3. The group is too big with too much speed over the final ascents for anyone to go, and they ride towards the finish all together.

*If it’s a breakaway going into the final 20 km together, the three scenarios still apply, but especially in the case of number 2. A rider with inferior descending skills in a small group is more likely to be left behind.

However, if a rider does get away, they are not guaranteed a win. The finish is atop a 500-meter, 10.7% climb. It’s not as long as the Mur de Huy, and not as steep, but it is not a sprint finish. A rider like Marianne Vos can still win on a little poppy climb like this, but that will depend entirely on the approach. It won’t be a GC day, in theory, but it’s also not a “just ride to the finish before the final stage” day.

My pick: Elisa Longo Borghini. Lidl-Trek needs a win after the last couple of days, the Italian national champion is on great form and these longer climbs haven’t been kind to her (they have though, she’s second overall!). A short, punchy climb like the finish of Stage 7 is the perfect pick-me-up the team needs.

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