The Spin: Vuelta Stage 11

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A decisive stage of the 2012 Vuelta, today’s time trial is vital moment for all with ambitions for the overall. There are many mountains to come and today’s stage will reshuffle the overall standings rather than define the order as we saw in the Besançon time trial during the Tour de France.

The Route: just 13km of flat riding before the climbing starts. When we think of time trials we can think of riders turning 58T chainrings and rolling at over 50km/h for an hour but today’s course is quite different. The Alto Monte Castrove is 10km long at 4.4% but beware of averages as it climbs steeply at the start with gradients reaching 8%, then a flat section in the middle before rising up through the pine forests.

The descent is steep in places and has several hairpin bends as they come into the village of Escusa – yes, as in excuse, hopefully nobody crashes here. It’s technical in places with a narrow road, the kind where if two cars meet both have to slow and drive on the verge to pass. This continues for some time until the race reaches the wider roads into Pontevedra and then twists in town before crossing the Lérez river twice, once at 2.5km to go and again 500 metres before the finish.

There are no time bonuses for the first three today. Riders go in reverse GC order.

The Contenders: the course climbs but the logical pick is still Tony Martin. The German world champion can cope with some climbs and he’ll like the technical parts of the course plus he’s been able to rest during the first week.

We have a the quartet of Joaquim Rodriguez, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde. Froome and Contador should gain here, Contador has apparently visited this course eight times, by contrast Froome wasn’t planning on riding the Vuelta so he’s less familiar therefore it’s hard to pick between these two. How much time will Rodriguez and Valverde lose is the question, answers later today. If they make the top-20 and concede 90 seconds to Contador and Froome then I think they’ll be happy.

As for the others, watch out for Robert Gesink. His stick-insect on a bike look makes us think he is a pure climber but this year he’s made big gains in the time trials and today’s course suits him. Fellow Dutch-speaker Thomas de Gendt should be there too. And watch Andrew Talansky who almost beat Wiggins in the uphill time trial stage of the Tour de Romandie last May.

Weather: cool temperatures of 19°C (65°F) and cloudy skies await. There’s a chance of rain too which could be decisive if it gets heavy.

TV: once again, 4.00-6.00pm Euro time with Joaquim Rodriguez expected to finish just before 5.45pm. Tony Martin is off at 2.49pm meaning viewers will see whether he’s set the fastest time when the video starts, the same for De Gendt at 3.07pm.

Local food: Pontevedra is the capital city of the Albariño wine. Alba- as in white and -riño as in from the Rhine valley. Apparently monks brought the grapes a millenium ago and this Spanish wine is similar to some French and German wines from the Rhine valley and it is know grown all around the world in California and Australia.

Capo Mele August 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

Thomas de Gendt is from Belgium

chru August 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

Dutch speaking Flanders part of Belgium

The Inner Ring August 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

You’re both right: I fixed Dutchman to Dutch-speaking after Capo Mele corrected me.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

I think Talansky is a good pick for top 3. He’s got that crucial mix of climbing and TT abilities to challenge for future GCs. Though worth bearing in mind that when he ran Wiggins a very close second at Romandie, Wiggins ‘s chain had unshipped and he’d lost a probable 15 seconds or so in the process – and it was a much shorter course of 16.5k. That said, Talansky should zoom up the GC after today’s TT. I’d also hope to see Porte put in a good time.

The Ladder August 29, 2012 at 11:26 am

Re: Porte, he’s looked well off the pace during the first week, I think the huge body of work he did in the Tour might have caught up with him. Team wise, he’d do well to conserve energy today to be of use later in the race (pacing Froome), rather than exert himself to get a top 10 stage finish.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 11:36 am

Porte didnt start the race feeling 100%, but apparently feeling better by the day. He may indeed replicate the first TT at the Tour and conserve energy.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

However…he’s long-listed alongside Rogers and Durbridge for the Worlds for the Aussie TT selection, and may want to put in a good performance to boost his chances of making the final 2 picks. Not sure that a sub-1 hour effort today will take too much out of him ahead of Sat when the 3-day mountain fest starts. But then I’m not him or the Sky DS!

The Ladder August 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I’d like to see him go well too, but as you allude to, the wonderful Sky DS might see it differently!

phil August 29, 2012 at 11:01 am

Hmmm, no time bonuses in the only stage where a time triallist (Froome) is likely to hump the other Fantasticos. The word “loaded” springs to mind.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 11:06 am

Phil, are you impling that this Vuelta has been set up to favour the Spanish riders? Surely not:)

David August 29, 2012 at 11:10 am

I can’t remember there ever being time bonuses in the TT in any race.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 11:11 am

True. Not standard.

The Inner Ring August 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

Exactly. The time bonuses are there to make riders sprint for the stage finish, it can’t happen today so it’s less useful.

Hoh August 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Lead DS at Spain is Nicholas Porte (Spelling might be off as I am typing from my phone and there’s no way to check). Just retired from racing himself and doesn’t look the assertive type to me.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Portal’s certainly not experienced either. Give me Sean Yates any day. If Dave Brailsford is serious about Sky going after multiple GTs in a single season, he’s either got to have Yates working overtime or do some aggressive DS hiring – and not from newly-retired riders.

chru August 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

I like time bonuses. OK, it’s favouring the spaniards who are also clearly ganging up on Froome but it makes the stage win more meaningful.

I also think they should re-introduce them in the tour. I used to like seeing the sprinters battling for yellow in the first week. Adds more spice.

jason August 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

Froome needs to perform well.. get the jersey and distance himself from the Purito and Valverde or else..

casualpedlar August 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hoping to see Cameron Meyer ride well today. It was a bit early in his development from track to road rider to challenge for a high GC as he wanted to (not to mention the course isn’t exactly suited to his strengths) but he has shown good legs in a breakaway and seems motivate to do well in the time trial.

Also want to see Talansky ride into the top 10 overall, and hopefully Roche might be able to cement his place there.

Steve August 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

So far, there have been more attacks and more exciting racing in any if the 3 (?4) uphill stages than in the entire 3 mind numbing weeks of the Tour. Whatever the Vuelta did, it works. The Tour was made just for Wiggins. He could have list 5 minutes in the mountains and we would have been treated to endless footage of his rear end in skin suit taking it all back. So why not a Vuelta made to favor aggressive racers?

Ronan August 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I think a good outsider for today is Castroviejo. He is a strong TT rider and can climb to boot, so he could sneak into contention, if conditions work out for him.

Also, with the climb being categorised, does a rider gets KOM points for this?

casualpedlar August 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Agreed. He was very impressive in the Olympics and could easily get top 10 or even top 5. I also believe that KOM points are awarded for the 3 fast riders up the climb like any other 3rd Cat. climb.

Tricky Dicky August 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I pray that Froome can get time here to keep this GC race alive – it could be intriguing if he can get a minute’s lead on Rodriguez and say 30 secs on Contador. Contador will get stronger I think and Jrod and Valverde seem to be stitching up these bonus seconds. Vaughters has tipped “a dark horse” (no doubt Talansky) to smash it – should be interesting.

A small aside on your food point, the Albarino grape is actually the subject of a bit of a stuff-up here in Australia where lots of “Albarino” cuttings were sold and planted years ago and many vineyards sold Albarino in Australia for some considerable time until a viticulturist tested them and declared all of them to be “savagnin”, prompting lots of embarrassment and re-branding. Anyway, somewhat off topic!

Steve August 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

So far, there have been more attacks and more exciting racing in any if the 3 (?4) uphill stages than in the entire 3 mind numbing weeks of the Tour. Whatever the Vuelta did, it works. So why not a Vuelta made to favor aggressive racers?

DanB August 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Rodriguez has improved in TT’s this year…saying that he could have a stinker

Patterson_hood August 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm

A little late and so I have a bit of an advantage but I think Berto just might take it…

Sam August 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Froome faces (literally) uphill struggle now. Seriously gutsy and impressive ride by Purito. Got to root for him now…

diamondjim August 30, 2012 at 6:40 am

You’ve used a common misspelling of ‘millennium’ in your last paragraph.
I find this advice to be a helpful way to remember the second ‘n':
“We all know that “millennium” comes from the Latin words “mille” and “annus” and means a thousand years. The word “millenium” comes from the Latin words “mille” and “anus” and means something else.” (thanks to Peter Bowditch, at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/ – another great site).
:-)

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