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t-72

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I came to know this climb with some hearing problems and a little misunderstanding. Anyway, it is probably going to be an exiting stage to watch, perhaps not decisive but at least defining for the outcome in the competition for the #red.



On their way to Cangas de Onis and the slow start of the Lagos de Cowabunga itself, there are quite a few really large molehills they need to cross including the unaesthetic loop course[1] down by the coast where they will climb the Mirador del Fito (a 1st category climb) twice. It should be enough to discard 5 busloads of domestiques and ensure a high probability for a mano a mano GC battle up the Lagos climb.

They have had stages finishing here roughly every second year lately, so many will be familiar with it, both riders and racers. Just to recap, here's the 2014 results, won by Niemiec but really dominated by the three Musketeers. Contador went on to win the race overall.


Two years later, the tables had turned and the three Musketeers no longer dominated the Spanish racing scene like before. Instead, we had the Froome vs Quintana duels -this time, advantage Quintana - winning the stage here -  but it was not until the the famous Froomigal stage Quintana would nail the rojo to his shoulders for good.


It is worth reading the names in the top 10 here - there's no Oscar Rodriguez sneaking along for a lucky win, unless you count Nemiec in that category, but the rest of the top 10s are pure class riders. It is also clear that for everyone else, #movistar Quintana is the reference, and it is all about how much they have improved relative to Quintana since the last time they went head-to-head up this mountain.

#mitchelton Yates - he is definetly better now, but is he 1 minute faster?
#ef Uran - he did not have his best race when (he was here the last time, finishing 1 minute behind the Musketeers. His best race that year was in the Giro, which he lost to...Quintana (after that sneaky attack on the Stelvio, remember?)
#astana Lopez I don't think has been competing here before (he has a few DNFs in the Vuelta and I think one of them happened on a stage in this region). Anyway, last year he did two very good stages with long climbs winning both. Is he the dark force here?
#movistar Valverde can be excused, long climbs are not his favorite terrain and he used to be better...


OK, let's take a look at that last climb in profile:

It is a long climb, but it is not the typical ski-station access road with regular gradient and smooth surface. This road goes nowhere and it is rougher in character. The first two-thirds are steep, but still variably steep, while the last third is more stepped as some flat sections will give some rest for tired legs between steeper pitches. Finally, the last 2 km are really quite flat with just a little kick at the tail.

The race may well be decided on the upper third stepped section, but the great filtering of who's in and who's out of the GC will be finished somewhere in the lower 2/3. Racers that are dropped here need not considering adjustment of their wardrobe to match red jerseys in the future.

My favorites (pre-finish Saturday's stage...):
*** #movistar Nairo Quintana
** #mitchelton Simon Yates, #astana Lopez
* #ef Uran, #sunweb Kelderman, #fdj Pinot
 1. Grand Tour stages should never loop
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  • Mellow Velo

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    Nice preview.
    You should do a few more. :D
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  • "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.

    M Gee

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    This is a longer climb, so it will definitely favor Quintana. However, Yates is riding smarter than in the Giro (or at least cagier).

    Like you said: "defining". I like that.

    However, Kruiswijk may be able to turn the tables in the TT.  You know, it's been a while since we were almost in week 3 of a GT and didn't have strong odds on the winner. It's down to three strong contenders, when usually we have one, or perhaps two. And, among the top 6 or 7, a good TT result could change all the calculations!
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  • . . .He had the bit between his teeth, and he loiked the taste, mate . . .

    LukasCPH

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    Every race preview that starts with a Snoopy cartoon is great! :D

    Lagos de Covadonga. The climb that made Induráin DNF his final Vuelta. This will be good.
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    M Gee

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    Just to add the route map:


    Lagos de Cowabunga . . .:b2
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  • t-72

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    and before I post the results..something entirely different: what happened at the start today?  :o
    (Can someone please explain?)

    https://twitter.com/ANNAGONZALEZLO1/status/1038742902409764864
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  • t-72

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    As for the results, and a summary of the stage, a classical case of favorites watching each other closely with about 5 relatively  minor attacks neutralized, while the outsider gets to slip away and take stage win.

    #movistar Quintana did not look like his 2016 edition
    #movistar Valverde looked like his 2014 2008 edition (absolutely awesome ride, closing all gaps)
    #mitchelton Yates looked like he has learned a lesson in the Giro, but also lacks the same mad kick he had back tehn
    #jumbo Kruiswijk did not look like the one who could come back at the end and reel in Quintana, but he did
    #astana Lopez --- does it look like he can win this or not`?


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  • t-72

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    #fdj Thibault Pinot climbed the Lagos de Covadonga in about 32:40 (+/- 10 s), this is most likely only a few seconds slower than Quintana in 2016. #movistar Valverde probably set a new personal best, coming in only 32 seconds later. If he continues to improve, nothings gonna stop him in two year's time.  :P

    This also confirms #movistar Nairo Quintana not at peak level, but I don't know if that is physical or tactical. He clearly wants Yates to do the more of the harder accelrations. We can expect him to attack strongly when #mitchelton Yates eventually runs out of steam (in the fourth week...)

    (reference for past climbing times): http://www.climbing-records.com/2016/08/quintana-unleashed-on-covadonga.html
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    yeah, I think #movistar Movistar backed the wrong horse today. But in hindsight it's easy to say of course
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  • "If this is cycling, I am a banana"


    M Gee

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    and before I post the results..something entirely different: what happened at the start today?  :o
    (Can someone please explain?)

    https://twitter.com/ANNAGONZALEZLO1/status/1038742902409764864

    por una ley justa  =  for a just law
    ejemplo  =  The platoon of @ lavuelta has clothed @ ANNAGONZALEZLO1 to request the reform of the penal code and greater legal protection for cyclist  https://twitter.com/RFECiclismo/status/1038842818557620226
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  • Capt_Cavman

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    #fdj Thibault Pinot climbed the Lagos de Covadonga in about 32:40 (+/- 10 s), this is most likely only a few seconds slower than Quintana in 2016. #movistar Valverde probably set a new personal best, coming in only 32 seconds later. If he continues to improve, nothings gonna stop him in two year's time.  :P

    This also confirms #movistar Nairo Quintana not at peak level, but I don't know if that is physical or tactical. He clearly wants Yates to do the more of the harder accelrations. We can expect him to attack strongly when #mitchelton Yates eventually runs out of steam (in the fourth week...)

    (reference for past climbing times): http://www.climbing-records.com/2016/08/quintana-unleashed-on-covadonga.html
    From what I saw on the highlights, Yates is the man to beat. If Quintana was bluffing, he wouldn't have given away 8 seconds in the last ramp. Lopez has the team, but Yates didn't seem overly concerned at letting him go and then nearly caught him on the line. Yates was also visibly trying to force the Movistar pair to empty their tanks before going into his own reserves. I don't see him folding in the third week; he may get out performed, but there won't be a repeat of the Giro.
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    AG

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    I tend to agree - I dont think Yates will do a super collapse in Giro style.

    The other teams are certainly trying to crack him though.  Bahrain, Movistar and Astana have all taken control early in stages to make it super hard ... I am only assuming in order to try and crack him and Pinot who they see as vulnerable to the really hard 3 weekers.

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  • M Gee

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    From what I saw on the highlights, Yates is the man to beat. If Quintana was bluffing, he wouldn't have given away 8 seconds in the last ramp. Lopez has the team, but Yates didn't seem overly concerned at letting him go and then nearly caught him on the line. Yates was also visibly trying to force the Movistar pair to empty their tanks before going into his own reserves. I don't see him folding in the third week; he may get out performed, but there won't be a repeat of the Giro.

    I tend to agree - I dont think Yates will do a super collapse in Giro style.

    The other teams are certainly trying to crack him though.  Bahrain, Movistar and Astana have all taken control early in stages to make it super hard ... I am only assuming in order to try and crack him and Pinot who they see as vulnerable to the really hard 3 weekers.



    Certainly seems like good analyses to me. Yates has done a much better job of leaving his legs something for later in the game this time.
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  • LukasCPH

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    and before I post the results..something entirely different: what happened at the start today?  :o
    (Can someone please explain?)
    It's in favour of a law prescribing a minimum passing distance, I think.
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