With the last summit finish over, Team Milram's Gerald Ciolek is hopeful that he will get a chance to use his sprinting powers in the final week of the Vuelta a España. The stage two victor was 138th on yesterday's stage to La Pandera, but the final week could be a bit more conducive to bunch sprints and breakaway groups.
"There are two or three stages where it might be possible, where it comes back for a bunch sprint, but it is never certain," he told Cyclingnews. "It is difficult to say because many sprinters went home and there are not so many teams left who are very much interested in having a bunch sprint. So that makes it more difficult."
Ciolek spoke before the start of the stage to La Pandera and, like many in the race, has been feeling very tired as a hard Vuelta continued. "My goal is to go all the way to Madrid, but it will be a tough race in the next days. We have passed the hardest point but you never know. Some days, you don't expect it but it can be really hard."
If things work out, he would like to see Milram land another stage victory. He feels they have a couple of options. "Some riders from our team went home but there are also some good riders left here," he said. "We have two choices, we can be in the breakaways or we are happy too with the bunch sprints. Both are good for us and that is how we want to go on, trying to win another stage."
Today's race takes the riders to Cordoba and includes two ascents of the category two Alto de San Jerónimo before swooping down to the finish. Ciolek rides well on shorter climbs, winning stage five of last year's Deutschland Tour which finished atop the category three Winterberg. The final 60 kilometres also included a category three and a category two ascent.
The fact that sprinters Tyler Farrar (Garmin Slipstream), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) have left the race could also make things more straightforward in the final 200 metres, even if it means that those teams will now try to jeopardise rather than facilitate a large group finish.
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