The Spin: Vuelta Stage 12

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Summit finish withdrawal symptoms? It’s been several days since the Vuelta had an uphill finish for the overall candidates to dispute the stage win but today this is fixed. The final climb of the day is less than two kilometres long but compensates with vicious gradients.

The Route: another long day along the coast, 190km of which about half follows the Galician coast line. There are two intermediate sprints at 128km and 156km, notable because John Degenkolb is hunting for points to keep the green jersey. And then it’s on to the finish and the Mirador de Ézaro, the Ézaro look out, high above Dumbria.

The Finish: a fast approach along the coast leads to the final climb to the finish, a wall of road. It is 1.9km long averages 13% with some sections at 20%. The middle has a concrete section, rougher and slower than normal tarmac. There’s talk of 30% gradients but only if you ride the wrong line through the inside of a hairpin bend when you’ll be so slow there’s time to deploy a theodolite. There are good sections at 20% and if you remove the “easy” section with 1km to go then the typical gradient is 17% with double-digit gradients all the way to the finish line, surrounded by wind turbines that spin in the Atlantic breeze. I’ve added a video of the climb to the bottom of this piece.

The Scenario: a breakaway will go and what chance it stays away? Well Argos Oil – Shimano will fancy the intermediate sprints for Degenkolb and then many will want a fast pace for the finish, if only to protect their leaders on the approach to the climb.

The Mirador is steep enough to be important for the overall contenders but short enough to allow other riders to contest the win, setting up a tempting battle between Joaquim Rodriguez and Philippe Gilbert, although I see Rodriguez as the obvious pick today, ahead of Alberto Contador. Rodriguez is in form and excels at these kind of finishes, whether in the Flèche Wallonne or the Vuelta.

Weather: cool coastal conditions with temperatures of 19°C (66°F). Above all the wind will pick up with a breeze of 30km/h coming from the north-east which means the latter part of the stage could be tricky with crosswinds.

TV: 4.00-6.00pm Euro time with the finish planned for 5.30pm, tune early in case a fast pace means the race finishes early.

Pilgrimage: after today’s stage all riders make their way to Santiago de Compostela. The regional capital of Galicia it is also a big centre for Christian pilgrimage. The pious make long journeys across Europe to reach the cathedral, often on foot but sometimes on bicycle.

An early Euro road network

If this isn’t for you then at least note it gives rise to a large network of paths and roads across Europe which are signed and lined with hostels, inns and restaurants along the various routes. It means even rural areas have places to stay and because these are often spaced by the distance of a day’s walk, the touring cyclist can find places to stay. But today’s racers will just want a bed for the night.

Video: here’s the final climb in a video, complete with some Euro pop.

jason August 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

Purito for the win!!! He has tried over the years to win a GT (the Vuelta mostly), worked on the weaknesses and fine tuned his strengths!! I was supporting Froome for this GT (still am) but I think at the age he is and the form he has shown all year, JR deserves it.

wheelie August 30, 2012 at 11:01 am

that’s a brute. If it does come back together it’s maybe a little too long for Gilbert, more suitable to Rodriguez but Valverde has a squeak again. Joker is Mollema. However who’s going to help Katusha today ?

jason August 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

Nobody will help to bring Katusha back the break as they will not want Purito get the bonus..

Gert Bøleberg August 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

Maybe BMC with Gilbert will lend a hand?

Gert Bøleberg August 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

If it is not too long for him, as mentioned.

bikecellar August 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

Whoever wants to earn a few extra dollars?

The Ladder August 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Sky no doubt. They seem oblivious to the fact that pushing the pace along has actually done Rodriguez more favours than Froome.

David S August 30, 2012 at 11:37 am

Ouch, it may be reatively short but it looks very nasty!

Would it be worth Sky trying to get one or two men in the break? Aside from the chance of a stage win, if they put some firepower in the break it would mean Katusha working very hard to bring it back if they want to chase the time bonus. Could Sky and Saxobank combine on this tactic?

Sam August 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

Sky will put a man in the break when hell freezes over. Just not their style of tactics. I trust they stop constantly hammering on the front though because all its doing is saving Saxo’s legs. They will be one of the teams going hammer and tongs in the last xs kms to the bottom of that climb though. Stupid course today IMO with nothing to act as pre-selection – its asking for trouble.

HOH August 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm


Couldn’t quite see the benefit of a sky breakaway today. More than enough incentive for Katusha to chase anyway.

Sam August 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm

ok, hell HAS frozen over, Flecha just tried to get in a break:)

Patterson_hood August 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I’m hoping for something like this. Sky can’t ride this like the Tour anymore, they need to mix the tactics up a bit.

jim68000 August 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm


Classy username Mr Hood.

(Tries to think of cycling related DBT song, fails)

Davido August 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

“… you’ll be so slow there’s time to deploy a theodolite.”

Phrases like that are what make this blog so special. Good one!

Ankush August 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Purito will pass them while smoking a purito.
I have become very fond of Purito after his showing at the Giro. He’s a true bike racer who races with heart. I don’t think PhilGil will be of any match today.

Thomas Guest August 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Try mixing the music from that YouTube climb with the video from that Cipollini advert.

Gospina August 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Was waiting for a bike delivery guy in a skinsuit to jump from a helicopter

Ronan August 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Nice stage today.

First thought is that, with all the big mountain climbs still to come, perhaps Katusha won’t be too concerned by chasing a break and will let it go? Or maybe put a man in the break to put pressure on others. The Russians would be wise to conserve energy on a day like today.

The alternative is to give Moreno the go ahead for the stage win to scoop up time bonuses and let Purito follow Contador’s wheel. He can ride a bit defensively now that the TT is finished.

jason August 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

This is the kind of finish the suits Purito 100%, so I do not think Katusha will take it easy.. In fact before the start of the Vuelta I am sure that they were planning to take back time on this stage after a bad TT..

The Ladder August 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I agree, Rodriguez cannot afford to sit back, he has to try and build a buffer on stage finishes like this that are his real strength.

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