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Vuelta a España - Stage Previews & Discussion - Week 2


Stage Type Date Start / Finish Distance
10      #med      Tue. 08/24      Roquetas de Mar - Rincón de la Victoria      189.0 km
11      #med      Wed. 08/25      Antequera - Valdepeñas de Jaén      133.6 km
12      #med      Thu. 08/26      Jaén - Córdoba      175.0 km
13      #flat      Fri. 08/27      Belmez - Villanueva de la Serena      203.7 km
14      #mountain      Sat. 08/28      Don Benito - Pico Villuercas      165.7 km
15      #mountain      Sun. 08/29      Navalmoral de la Mata - El Barraco      197.5 km
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  • « Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 21:53 by LukasCPH »
    "If this is cycling, I am a banana"

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    after the rest day, the Vuelta continues with a couple of hilly stages in Andalucia. No need to tune in early for the first one, but it should be a very interesting finale



    The organizers list the climb with 10.9k at 4.9%, but that doesn't really do it justice, as the final ramp of 4.8km averages 8.7%



    The descent looks very twisty as well. Here is an interactive profile of the finish:



    The same finale was used in the 2013 Ruta del Sol, but unfortunately they didn't have live coverage back then, and the highlights don't show much. It came down to a 12-men sprint, won by Valverde - but back then the stage itself was much harder than tomorrow's



    Still, I think there's no doubt that this one is too hard for the pure sprinters. Guys like Cort or Matthews may have a chance, though, if the pace on the climb is not too high - and if they don't get dropped by Aranburu on the descent.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Just as I predicted when I woke up Tuesday morning: Stage 10 offered quite the race!  :P

    For the second time in two weeks, the strongest rider of the day was the young Australian, Michael Storer.  #dsm
     
    Timing yet another solo breakaway to perfection, he was able to cross the line with plenty of time to celebrate the moment.


    In the surprise move of the day, further back in the race Primož Roglič #jumbo #red attacked the other GC contenders on the final (and only) climb, putting all his rivals into pain before cresting the summit for an aggressive descent meant to put even more time into his challengers.

    BUT AGAINST MY STRICT INSTRUCTIONS, HE TOOK ONE TOO MANY RISKS!!!! :o

    On a sketchy downhill with tight bends and questionable road-surface quality, the Slovenian Mad Man nearly Valverde'd himself right out of the race. Briefly losing control on a tight bend, Roglič hit the pavement, sliding off the road and onto a fortuitously-placed section of gravel and dirt before the impending guard rail.





    It could've very easily been much, much worse, but he was able to remount reasonably quickly, now joined by his closest rival, Enric Mas #movistar along with Miguel Angel López #movistar, and Jack Haig #bahrain for the final push to the line.

    While the two GC favorites increased the gap between themselves and the #ineos duo of Egan Bernal and Adam Yates, the other big story of the day was the transition of the #red from the bruised body of Roglič onto the shoulders of Odd Christian Eiking  *no #iwg who managed to take advantage of an early escape group that was given room to play by a peloton more focused on their own concerns early in the race.

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  • « Last Edit: August 25, 2021, 02:59 by Drummer Boy »

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    Today the Vuelta returns to Valdepeñas de Jaén, well known from the various visits at the beginning of the last decade - but not been used anymore since 2013.



    The muro style finish is one for the explosive climbers, and usually you can expect the same kind of riders at front like in the Flèche Wallonne. The last two winners are Purito Rodriguez and Dani Moreno.


    https://climbfinder.com/en/climbs/calle-pecho-rompe-albarcas-calle-chaparral



    Problem is, the only explosive climber around is Roglic, who also crashed yesterday. So it could be another day for the breakaway. #bahrain Wout Poels came 2nd here in 2011 - not sure he still is as explosive, but maybe he'll give it a go.
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    #alpecin Jasper Philipsen is a DNS today, which leaves Jakobsen with a 106pt lead in the battle for #green now. He may struggle to make it to the finish as well, though

    https://twitter.com/AlpecinFenix/status/1430480305530494979
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    well, almost a day for the break (well, for #ef Cort), but not quite this time.

    https://twitter.com/cronoescalada/status/1430553612544094215

    Today Roglic wanted the win, and took it.



    Mas looks more and more like a danger man for GC
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    tomorrow's stage looks more likely to result in business as usual again, unless #bikeexchange still feels inclined to chase for 23rd



    The last time the Vuelta visited Cordoba, it came down to a reduced bunch sprint, though - but much earlier in the race.



    The "Alto del 14%" was also used back then, but doesn't really live up to its name, offering only a very short stretch at that percentage, before a more technical (but not steep at all) run-in to Cordoba than last time.





    In 2011 Liquigas attacked on a descent into Cordoba, and finished with 4 riders inside the Top 5. Would be fun to see something similar tomorrow as well, but I guess the long stretch of flat road is likely to kill any action.
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    No day for the break again - but for Cort instead





    Roglic crashed again. No real information so hard, but he seemed to be okay.

    Today looks likely to be a big bunch sprint, unless the heat takes its toll

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  • t-72

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    It is another Odd red day in my calendar!  :D

    If Roglic keeps his wheels hop in the air as much as he has done in the past few days, who knows, #intermarche Eiking might end up walkowiaking the whole race. Maybe it was a sign that it was none other than Oscar Pereiro Sio that gave him the first red jersey on the podium.   :shh
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    Apart from a very short stretch of crosswind action, there wasn't much to report from yesterday's stage - until #deceuninck took over in the technical finale, put the hammer down with Cerny at the front, and split the field into pieces. Problem was, that their sprinter #green Jakobsen couldn't follow the pace either. Sénéchal took over and won, but Jakobsen wasn't particularly happy

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    Today we (well, you. I'm not around unfortunately) get to see the only mountain-top finish of the week



    After an easy start, it gets about as steep as possible quickly



    From the top there are still ~70k to go, though, so even if some may struggle, everything but a big regrouping of the peloton would be quite a surprise. The final climb is long then, but not too hard



    Looks likely to be a day for the break to me.
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  • t-72

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    I predict this will cost #intermarche Eiking the #red red jersey. While he is a good climber, he has always had an upper treshold length on the climbs, more than 20 minutes of climbing and his legs turns to jelly, he said in an interview some years back. Time will show if he has overcome that problem, but it was the reason why Guillaume Martin was always the GC captain when they were on the same team.

    Speaking of which, who else than just that Guillaume Martin, now with Cofidis #cofidis,  happens to be in 2nd position on the GC?
    These riders probably know each other so well that Guillaume has spent most of the past week waiting for his chance: he is the better climber on longer climbs that are not so steep, Eiking is only really good on the short, super-steep muritos. Actually he us a Mur de Huy guy who never rides the Mur de Huy, because he is always more or less uncyclcable in Ardennes week - due to heavy pollen allergy. (What a personal tragedy for him…)

    Anyway, this is the day for Martin, his task is to gain 1 minute on Eiking (doable, if Martin is in shape) and then still keep #jumbo Roglic within a bit less than a minute up in front.  This normally wouldn´t be doable if Roglic is in happy mode and having an ordinary day, unless MArtin is in very good shape. However, as a member of the FTD´s (French Terrible Descenders) organization, Martin should go all in today. This day, he doesn´t have to race back down after climbing the last mountain of the day. It is now, or not this year, for #cofidis Guillaume Martin.

    Another Frenchman, not an FTD member, #dsm Romain Bardet used to have a small inspirational quote on his bike when riding for #ag2r AG2R. I don´t know if he was allowed to keep it when he joined the strictly rules-based team DSM, but it said «take the chance, or lose the opportunity». I think he will, even if tomorrow maybe suits him better, he´s my pick for stage winner if it doesn´t come down to a pure GC duel. Guillaume, are you listening?  :shh
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  • t-72

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    «So, T, how´s the Vuelta going so far, I hear there´s only one Norwegian in the race this year»

    Wait, sit down, let me open this bottle, it should be suitable for the occassion:

     

    «Yep, that actually is a bottled 2019 Gorka Izaguirrue, I think the bloke up at the Vinmonopolet (Wine Monopoly) store almost nailed it. Vuelta time, and the velorooms forum is all dressed up in yellow and deep red colors.»

     :TT

     :slow  «What´s the problem, T?»

    «He only almost nailed it.»

    «Is there something wrong with the bottle, the cork, or what?»

    «No, it isn´t that

    «What, then?»

    «It is the color stupid, I should have brought a red one!»

     :D

    #red Eiking
    #red Eiking
    #red Eiking
    #red Eiking
    #red Eiking

     :S



    So, I actually was wrong about #cofidis Guillaume Martin. He attacked, as predicted, but he also had to carry #intermarche Menitjes with him. After a few minutes, the #jumbo Jumbo train of mountain-bees upped the pace and caught him. Eiking, in the peloton didn´t waste a single calorie chasing the attack.
    At the end, an almost succesful attack by #movistar Miguel Angel was almost caught by #jumbo Roglic and a few others including #ineos #white Bernal at the line, but the gaps were really small and the stage almost did nothing to the GC situation as #red Eiking just managed to hang on at the tail end of the peloton, all of the time.
    I was wrong about him, and I am really happy about that.  :cool
    Unless he´s tricking everyone, he now looks so cooked I think next stage he is going to lose 14 minutes.
    But 1-2-3-4-5 days in the #red ? I don´t believe that either. Not if we rewind to the start of this week and do it all over again.

    However, there is a little doubt, he is definetly now riding more like a diesel engine and less like the punchy rider I remember him as. Maybe his endurance is better now, but he seems unable to change pace on the climbs?

    Anyway, at least I was right about Romain #dsm  :cool. A worthy winner of an extremely chaotic day in the breakaway. 

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  • « Last Edit: August 31, 2021, 22:24 by LukasCPH »

    Drummer Boy

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    Today we (well, you. I'm not around unfortunately) get to see the only mountain-top finish of the week.

    Fear not. You missed very little, besides #jumbo leading a sight-seeing tour for much of the afternoon.  :serious

     The greatest intrigue of the day wasn't even captured on camera. Time again, riders lost ground, or suffered what appeared to be terrifying accidents, only to remount and magically reappear at the front of the race.
     :S

    Those of us watching were left scratching our heads. :slow

    Besides that, the peloton did next to nothing all day. The break was slightly entertaining, and T-72 did well to recap those accomplishments, but this stage did not nearly deliver what, on paper, one might have anticipated.
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  • t-72

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    To follow up on the above, why didn´t such a stage profile make for interesting racing?

    Maybe it is Odd to say so, but I think the heat is making all the teams shiver. The peloton has been balancing on the bring of heat exhaustion for long hours every day lately, and a minor hydration-related failure, a dropped bottle at the wrong moment, they guy with the bottles coming up from the car caught behind a split or someone that just doesn´t dare to take their fingers off the wheel for a 30 minute descent down a winning goat track somewhere in the Spanish outback they never even thought existed, and they will be in serious trouble. Actually I think the teams, the riders and the race organization get too little respect for managing the risk for heat exhaustion as well as they do - but that doesn´t make it any easier.

    OK, back to the stages - the thing is, they are doing relatively well on the scorched plains of the Extramadura plains, a landscape very close to being plain desert. («Extremadura» translates directly to very hard, for those that don´t speak latin languages). You don´t see a very visible «heat deduction» in the way they are racing. They are traveling along at an almost leisurely 35 km/hour. That is 10 m per second windchill, plus some weak regional winds, that help evaporate sweat from the skin, the only process that can cool the body when the air is so hot. (Thank god it is not much humidity in these parts).

    It is different in the mountains. There is usually less wind to start with, but add to this the factor that the riders slow down when they come on to a climb, so there is less windchill available to cool them. Plus the roadside rocks, which often feature on the climbs, have been baking in the sun all day,  are now ready to radiate heat back on to the riders at the precise moment when they are most vulnerable. In fact, while the timing of the race makes it easy to catch it on TV after taking care of work/chores/your own bike rides for the day, it is quite bad for the riders on such days, the have to make the hardest physical efforts more or less precisely at the hottest time of day.

    I can understand that the teams go into a risk-averse mode where only modest attacks are made towards the end of the stage. It is easy to label a stage a «transport» when they go 180 km on flat wide Spanish roads across even flatter and sider Spanish plains and it ends in a bunch sprint. Maybe we should think of a mid-race hard climbing stage-profile in the hottest parts of Spain as just an «endure» stage? One they need to get through but where the ballsy attacks from 70 km out are almost guaranteed to backfire, maybe immediately or maybe towards the end of the three weeks, and that is why we never will see much of that happening on such stages…

    So today, what will we get 1) more of the same or 2) fireworks, because it is rest-day tomorrow?

    I somehow suspect that #jumbo Jumbo-Visma will hold their horses. There are enough very hard mountain stages for Roglic to show his true self in the last week, including the classic Covadunga stage. The climate will be better suited for hard racing.

    Movistar, on the other hand, more or less have to attack. At least a little. It is Sunday, they are at home, this is where the sponsors get their rewardin TV-time.

    My prediction is more of the same, and today #red Eiking will crack. There must be a limit for him somewhere, and with 7 days in the rojo, Intermarche #intermarche pretty much already won their Vuelta.   



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  • Drummer Boy

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    Drummer Boy

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    So...yeah...how about that Stage 15?  :S

    It started out with so much promise. Very aggressive riding right from the gate, and it kept up for quite awhile. Attack after thwarted attack, and it seemed like the day would provide endless entertainment. 

    But...not so much, in the end.

    It was a wonderful day for Rafal Majka #uae, who rode courageously for most of the afternoon. Once he escaped the annoyance of his lesser break companions, he soldiered on to the very end for his first win in four years. And he earned every moment of it.
    :win

    For some inexplicable reason, Steven Kruijswijk #jumbo thought it clever to chase after Majka with a gap that he was never likely to close. That was a lot of energy expended with virtually nothing to show for it. But what do I know? He did finish second on the day.

    Oh, and then some time later the other 159 riders crossed the line.  :x_x

    However, Odd Christian Eiking  *no  #iwg managed to make it to the second rest day still in #red, so props to him and the entire organization. 
    :cool
    They must be thrilled, as they never could've anticipated as much at the start of this Vuelta. Meanwhile, I'd imagine that Primož Roglič is quite content to allow someone else the burden of the wearing the leader's jersey, and all that that entails.

    This weekend did not deliver anything close to what the stage profiles hinted at, in terms of fan entertainment, but this is pro cycling, and I'm just an idiot watching from the comfort of my computer screen.

    Side note:
    It was a bad weekend for Ecuador, with Richard Carapaz #ineos,  Jhonatan Narvaez #ineos and  Jonathan Caicedo #ef  all leaving the race for varying reasons.

    I'll leave it to someone more savvy to post the results and standings, but little has changed in the overall bedsides maybe Adam Yates #ineos showing that he hasn't thrown the towel in just yet.
     
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  • « Last Edit: August 30, 2021, 02:03 by Drummer Boy »

     

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