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cj2002

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After yesterday's punishing climb to the summit of Collada de la Gallina, the organisers of this year's Vuelta could have been forgiven for putting a slightly more forgiving route together for Stage 9. But they haven't. At 196.3km Stage 9, with its route down from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean coast, is the second longest in this year's tour and will mean those who make it to the finish outside the 1992 Olympic Stadium will have earned their rest day on Monday.

The Route



The route is fast, mainly downhill with very little in the way of climbing to hold back anyone who feels like giving it everything before the day off. The first of two 3rd category climbs arrives after 65km of cycling. The Alto de la Collada de Clarà presents 6.4km of climbing at an average of 5.4% up to its 890m summit. From then for the next 100km, the course descends further, passing through intermediate sprint points at Cardona (96km) and Martorell (162km) which look likely to be fought over by whomever fights their way into a break.



The only other categorised climb is the famous Alto de Montjuic, just 4.5km from the finish. Another 3rd category summit, 165m above sea level, Montjuic hits hard and fast. 1100m of climbing at an average gradient of 8.1% before the final run in to the finish.

The Finish



As much as Andorra has become a classic stop of the Vuelta over time, it doesn't quite match Barcelona. Although it hasn't been on the route since 1999, this will be the 54th visit in 67 editions of the Vuelta to the 1992 Olympic hosts. More recently, the city received the Tour de France: Stage 6 of 2009's Tour had a very similar finish, with Thor Hushovd taking the win on the uphill kick. Hushovd isn't racing this time, and nor are we likely to see a repeat of the wet conditions of that day, but the potential for a fast-paced finish is very high indeed.

The Favourites

If Saturday's climax in Andorra was one for the GC riders, today's stage is ideal territory for anyone wanting to make their name in the points competition.



John Degenkolb is the man to beat right now. 29 points clear of Elia Viviani, the German already has 3 Vuelta stage wins under his belt to add to his 11 podium finishes this year. His Argos-Shimano team are firing on all cylinders as they push for a potential World Tour licence next season, and he will be keen to take another win before the rest day.



23-year-old Italian Viviani and Australia's Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE) took 2nd and 3rd on Friday's finish at the Motorland Aragón, and occupy 2nd and 4th respectively in the points standings. Both are in good form, and will want to go better than their 2nd place finishes so far this race. Also in the mix, should we be faced with a bunch sprint, are Sky's Ben Swift, Daniele Bennati of Radioshack-Nissan and Lotto's Gianni Meersman.

Of course after the efforts of Saturday, we may see something more like David Millar's Tour Stage 12 win this year, where after 2 days in the high mountains, a breakaway was able to go unchallenged to the finish line and fight for the win amongst themselves. If that happens, with the leaders not worried about losing time, your guess for a winner is as good as mine!
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  • « Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 19:34 by just some guy »
    FDREU: I know, I get tired of hearing how great Lance is, what a super person, etc. It's crazy and it's hard to not just tell people he is a cheat and asshole. [Frankie Andreu]

    just some guy

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    Great job CJ.

    These all downhill stages are strange
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  • Fignon - In my day, doping methods were derisory and the riders´exploits were massive.
    For the last 15 years or so  it has been the other way rond: there is a huge number of ways in which riders can dope, and any exploits are derisory.

    The Hitch

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    Good job cj after a short time here :tu

    Sunday shouldnt be a sprint stage, but i can accept it if its into Barcelona.

    How hard is that climb in the last k? Degenkolb should be able to get over it, hes top at that kind of thing, but im thinking maybe some good hill climber might could have a go like Gatto in Giro last year, seeing as how all the actual hill stages are backloaded so they cant try much on those.
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  • Despite the self-serving data benders and associated propaganda to the contrary, I am led to believe that there are pockets of organised, highly sophisticated dopers, even within 'new age' cycling teams. Personally, I don't accept that the 'dark era' has ended, it has just morphed into a new guise.

    Slow Rider

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    Probably won't be the most interesting stage, but the finish could be decent enough. I suppose one or more attackers will give it a shot on the 3rd cat climb, and they might even stay ahead. I think Gilbert will try, or possibly Ballan. Guys like Terpstra, Bakelants and Boom are some other random shoutouts for an attack.

    I think Degenkolb will survive the climb though, and if that is the case his team will chase the break back and likely win the stage. Bennati and Meersman are two other sprinters who can be expected to survive the climb. Question is, will their teams help the chase after the dominance of Degenkolb? If the attackers are strong enough, they could stay ahead.

    My pick for the day: Ballan. He will show his quality and take this stage ahead of a peloton led by Degenkolb.

    Edit- the climb is apparently 1,2 km at 8,1%. Harder than I thought.. Perhaps even Degenkolb will have some trouble here.
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  • The Hitch

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    Edit- the climb is apparently 1,2 km at 8,1%. Harder than I thought.. Perhaps even Degenkolb will have some trouble here.

    I recall he won what was basically an uphill finish in Dauphine last year, so i think he can do it.
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    the climb is apparently 1,2 km at 8,1%. Harder than I thought.. Perhaps even Degenkolb will have some trouble here.

    indeed, it's is a tough climb, last time they finished a stage in the Vuelta after the Alto de Montjuic Laurent Jalabert won the stage in front of Jesus Montoya and Michele Bartoli - and Richard Virenque was fifth. But that was in 1995 and they did it 11 times...

    Degenkolb won an uphill sprint in the Dauhiné last year, Swifty won one in this year's Tour of Poland, but this time we've got that hill + an uphill finish of 1k at ~4% following more or less immediately afterwards. I'm not sure they can survive the climb and still maintain enough power to sprint for the win. Degenkolb also might be more or less on his own (maybe together wirt de Kort) after the climb and in general, there won't be many domestiques to chase down attacks.

    The finish in the Tour 2009 (when Hushovd won) was the same, but they didn't do the Montjuic before. It may be more difficult for the sprinters this time - even for the ones which can climb a bit.

    I think this stage is better suited to a puncheur, Meersman, Breschel, Ballan and so on...
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    Dr. Horrible the Mad Elephant Man

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    Davis can climb a bit, perhaps the best of the sprinters.
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    Dr. Horrible the Mad Elephant Man

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    As far as possible attackers go, Lastras, Ballan or Gilbert, Simon Clarke or even Teklehaimanot, Bakelants, Hansen.
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  • The Poster Formerly Known As Moondance

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    Finish is tailor-made for Degenkolb's fourth win, if Argos can keep it together that is.
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  • "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead." - John Maynard Keynes, A Tract on Monetary Reform

    froome19

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    Before this Vuelta I always considered Degenkolb an uphill sprinter, and recalling his Dauphine win and especially his antics in the 4 days of Dunkerque, the finish seems certainly within his capabilities. Whether the race turns out that way and whether others such as Meersman or Breschel also ramp it up is all still very possible though.
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  • RIP Keith

    Dancing on the Pedals

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    If some of the big players really try and hammer it up Montjuic, I can't see many of  the sprinters hanging on.  As Hitch says, I can see it being a bit like the stage that Gatto won in the Giro, when Contador also attacked.  Depending on how it turns out, I can see Movistar trying to set something up for Valverde (although maybe the finishing ramp isn't steep enough and therefore would need a very small group with him?) 
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  • 'Sacrifice and hard work is our only secret' - Alberto Contador
    'Vinokourov...a lord of cycling' - Andrea Guardini
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    froome19

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    Indeed it seems this year that Valverde has looked more comfortable when sprinting out of really select groups on tougher gradients such as yesterday, Willunga, Andalucia etc
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  • cj2002

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    Agreed, the end is quite hard to predict. If it wasn't for the second climb, this stage would be a non-event. Philbert and Balkan are good shouts, I reckon. If they can pull out 30-40 seconds in that 8% climb, they could hold on.

    I'll be out all day, so I will be relying on Twitter to find out what happens.
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  • Slow Rider

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    What a finish it was. Contador attacked as predicted, but it seemed to have been only half an attack. JRod's attack on the other hand, that was something different. Great attack by him and Gilbert, some nice seconds for Purito who is now a minute ahead of Contador and Froome. I'll be very interested to see him ride the ITT next week, if he can limit his losses there he certainly seems good for a podium spot.
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  • cj2002

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    I loved reading back the shoutbox just now. Good on PG, 1st win of the year!
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  • AG

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     :win    :win    :win

    and most importantly - he didnt make it to the anniversary  ;D

    Got to be happy with that
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  • Dr. Horrible the Mad Elephant Man

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    Gilbert LOVE you!!!

    GO BMC!!!
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  • cj2002

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    :win    :win    :win

    and most importantly - he didnt make it to the anniversary  ;D

    Got to be happy with that

    We laugh, but that must have been weighing on his mind something chronic. I'm surprised he hasn't gone grey from the stress of it all!
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