The Vuelta Espana has been unpredictable on a daily basis so far, but in aggregate already looks in the iron grip of Team Sky and current leader Chris Froome.
After a series of punchy stages, the race finally hits the bigger climbs over this weekend, starting with Saturday’s stage 14 to the mountain-top finish at Sierra de la Pandera.
With an even bigger day of climbing on Sunday, there must be a chance of a breakaway being allowed loose by Team Sky. If that is the case then serial King of the Mountains contender Rafal Majka has been itching to land a stage in the early exchanges, and this is by far the most suitable looking course for him so far. He looks a worthy favourite.
That said, the race has been pretty aggressive, and there must be a reasonable chance that the general classification contenders will end up fighting this out as they have many of the uphill finishes so far.
Chris Froome is joint favourite for the stage, which makes sense as he has both looked like the strongest climber and keen to stamp his authority at every possible turn. He was a decent second on the last mountain finish, allowing Miguel Angel Lopez to win whilst marking main rival Vincenzo Nibali.
Further back that day was David de la Cruz. His effort should be marked up as he had a mechanical issue in the early stages of the final ascent as the race was really kicking off. He managed to climb his way back through many decent riders, catching and passing the likes of Esteban Chavez, whilst not able to reconnect with the Froome group.
Provided he steers clear of similar issues, he looks in the kind of form that could see him sticking to Froome, Nibali, Zakharin et al, and if they save a little for a big day on Sunday, it could open the door to him prevailing in a sprint of the big GC contenders. He is a huge price considering the form he has shown.
Recommendations: To win Stage 14:
Rafal Majka, 1pt win, 11/2 Paddy Power
David de la Cruz, 0.5pts each way, 100/1 Paddy Power (1/4 the odds 1-2-3)
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