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Today the Vuelta finishes in Santiago de Compostela with a late afternoon ITT



which is actually pretty though, with over 600m of climbing, but fairly non-technical



First rider on the ~pdf start list is #deceuninck Josef Cerny at 17:02, #red Roglic gets off the ramp a bit more than 2 1/2 hours later - so it's probably gonna be a bit late for AG to follow Jack Haig's run to defend the podium, who has a 1 minute lead over Adam Yates in GC:

Rank Rider Gap
1      #red   PRIMOŽ ROGLIČ       
2      #movistar   ENRIC MAS       + 00h 02' 38''
3      #bahrain   JACK HAIG       + 00h 04' 48''
4      #ineos   ADAM YATES       + 00h 05' 48''
5      #bahrain   GINO MÄDER       + 00h 08' 14''
6      #ineos   EGAN ARLEY BERNAL       + 00h 11' 38''
7      #jumbo   SEPP KUSS       + 00h 13' 42''
8      #cofidis   GUILLAUME MARTIN       + 00h 16' 11''
9      #uae   DAVID DE LA CRUZ       + 00h 16' 19''
10      #bora   FELIX GROSSSCHARTNER       + 00h 20' 30''
11      #iwg   ODD CHRISTIAN EIKING       + 00h 20' 46''

Yates has had the better results this year, but making up a minute will be tough. Apart from that, there's not much at stake anymore. It's close between 8th & 9th and 10th & 11th, but on paper, it won't be much of a fight due to Martin's and Eiking's lack of time trial skills.

For the stage win, it's hard to see anyone beating Primoz Roglic in this field, and on this course. His final week GT time trials didn't exactly tend to be stellar in the past, though, so if that pattern continues, guys like #bahrain Jan Tratnik, #deceuninck Josef Cerny, #movistar Nelson Oliveira, #groupama Tobias Ludvigsson or #jumbo Steven Kruijswijk could have a shot.
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  • "If this is cycling, I am a banana"

    t-72

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    Wow! Wow! WOW! Stage 20 of La Vuelta. The best stage of any Grand Tour this year?

    I actually think the stage wasn´t that great. Everything started to get interesting when #ineos Ineos put their few, but high-quality, worker bees in front and started reducing the gap a bit quicker than most of us thought they could. However, that successful penultimate stage attack (looking at you #qhubeka Fabio Aru!) requires not only a good team but also a captain that is in shape and able to follow up. Egan Bernal is a top class rider, but not a rider on top form. I am almost glad to see you can´t show up to the Vuelta and win it unless it is your first priority. Worth noticing: most of the days #red the red jersey has been sitting on the shoulders of riders that hasn´t done another grand tour earlier in the season. (Roglic´s ill-fated TdF means he has only done a couple of 8-day tours + the basque loop + and a few kms at the olympics earlier this year. Eiking was missing out on the entire season due to Corona virus protein that bluntly refused to leave his body. He was kept locked in quarantine for weeks after becoming symptom-free but repeatedly testing positive.)
    If there are to be 3 3-week tours a year (personal opinion: shorter stage races like Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse is underrated and we could have more of those instead) - they better be raced so hard they can´t be won just by showing up.

    The moment Roglic accelrated to catch Adam Yates attacking and thus left Bernal and Angel Lopez behind, was the moment the tactical battle for GC was won here. Everything Roglic did from there and in just consolidated his position.

    As for the battle for the podium, I think, if the reports are half correct, that #movistar Miguel Angel Lopez wins the Rohan Dennis memorial medal for mental meltdown in a grand tour. I am as surprised as everyone else, but then on second thought not so surprised. Lopez always seemed to be a bit fragile material on the mental side - a possible effect of being thrust into the limelight as «the next big thing» a bit to early even though his physical abilities at the time was good enough. This isn´t something to be particularly shameful about, the accumulated mental strain of preparing for and racing grand tours as a captain has ejected several top-rank European riders from the role in the past few years. Dumoulin, Pinot and Bardet all had their own way of stepping down and Lopez´s rage-quitting, even if it looks more like Dennis the Menace´s way of doing things, isn´t very different from some of Pinot´s race-exit. An FDJ death march, taking all you domestiques with you and finish OTL, is somehow seen as the more proper way to do it. Maybe we should hail #dsm Bardet for being the flexible personality that he is - his drama queen score is somehow less than the other´s, at least as far as grand tours go. (One storms day outside of Paris in March doesn´t count in that category  :P )
    At the end of it all, I hope these guys get the help they need to move on with their lives, so that one failed grand tour doesn´t equal troubles forover at everything they try to do.

    Anyway, the rest of the stage being much more about Adam Yates vs Jack Haig and about who would eventually take the stage (it wasn´t about #ag2r Champoussin until a minute or two before the end, so he doesn´t feature much in this tale, even though he eventually won it.) Their final standing depends on the time trial, and Yates seems less tired than Haig, so evn though he´s a minute behind, I still think he is going to get onto the podium.
    It wouldn´t be right for a rider that fits the mold of Zubeldia so well to finish on the podium, because that would make people familiar with the Jack Haig name. Maybe they would even question why Landa is always the captain.  :)

     


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  • Drummer Boy

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    I am almost glad to see you can´t show up to the Vuelta and win it unless it is your first priority.

    Indeed. This was certainly a race that no one was going to win with mere luck, or as the result of a gifted breakaway that got out of hand. It was one for only the strongest rider, and for a rider matched with the right team for the task.

    Speaking of strong riders:
    Adam Yates looked so incredibly impressive at many points throughout the race. So where did he initially lose his shot at the podium? I just can't remember now. Based on his more shining moments, it seems as though he should've been vying for second place, at least.
    Did he have a bad day to two that I've since forgotten about, or did #ineos tactics not favor him enough in the early stages of the race?

    Re: Miguel Ángel López and the drama of #movistar
    You know who's take I really want to hear? Johan Bruyneel's. He's been doing a daily podcast (in Spanish) for this Vuelta, featuring various South American and Spanish ex-riders.  He lives in Spain. He still has quite a few inside sources within the sport, and likely even more so with a team that's been around as long as #movistar. So I expect to gain some insight from him that others either don't have, or are unwilling to share.

    Also, in the wake of the López meltdown, I've been seeing a lot of references to the Movistar Netflix series. Is that really a thing? Has anyone seen any episodes? I'm assuming it's all sub-titled?
    :slow

    Now I've got four hours to wait until today's iTT begins.  :playlist
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: Miguel Ángel López and the drama of #movistar
    You know who's take I really want to hear? Johan Bruyneel's.

    I finally got hear Johan's perspective. He didn't quite have the inside scoop that I thought he might, but apparently both López's wife and father-in-law have been going ballistic on social media, with the wife specifically targeting the team, and Enric Mas personally.  It's not been a good look. Also, a Colombian politician has been making waves, citing the treatment of both Quintana and Carapaz by #movistar as evidence of the team's bias against South Americans. So that's not helping.

    However, based on nothing other than his own perceptions, Bruyneel did not feel that the team would've deliberately held back López on Stage 20, and put more of the blame on the rider and his lack of attentiveness during the race, and his unwillingness to follow what may, in fact, have been sound advice from the DS at the time of the dispute. And although he did consider López's behavior to be a fireable offense, Bruyneel was not so sure that that would be the outcome. López has proved that he can win the hardest stages at Grand Tours, and Movistar, as of right now, doesn't have many riders that can do that. Plus, the importance of the South American market, in terms of advertising, can not be overlooked. Although he did feel that the sponsor would go along with whatever decision team manager Eusebio Unzué arrived at.

    Nothing groundbreaking, but those were some of his thoughts on the matter.

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    • World Champion
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    However, based on nothing other than his own perceptions, Bruyneel did not feel that the team would've deliberately held back López on Stage 20, and put more of the blame on the rider and his lack of attentiveness during the race, and his unwillingness to follow what may, in fact, have been sound advice from the DS at the time of the dispute.

    here is also an interview with Lopez' father in law:

    https://www.elespectador.com/deportes/ciclismo/no-tiene-presentacion-lo-que-le-pidio-el-movistar-a-miguel-angel-lopez/

    He claims that Lopez was told (by Unzue, yelling at him) not to chase the favourite's group, as bringing back Bernal could have caused a danger for Mas' 2nd place. As a result, he decided "if you don't want me on the podium, I don't want to be in the race".

    If this really is what happens, I think his anger is kinda understandable. There was no risk at all for Mas' 2nd place.
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