As the only solo time trial of the 2013 Vuelta this is a vital moment of the race. But this being the Vuelta it’s got a climb that rises over a thousand metres above sea level.
There are two races today, first to win the stage but second for the GC riders as several climbers can expect to lose time today.
The Route: a hilly course but not technical. The climb is 9km at around 4%, a drag but everyone will tucked down on their time trial machines but with a lower average speed, the organisers don’t expect people to average more than 45km/h. The course is exposed – and takes place below a range of wind turbines – but the forecast says only a mild breeze.
It’s a route with a climb but not a day for the climbers as this requires a sustained effort rather than constant accelerations.
During their careers Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara have clashed 19 times in an individual time trial and the Swiss rider has the better of the German. But momentum matters and if we exclude last year’s Tour stage when Martin had a broken wrist and the prologue of the 2012 Tour de France where a puncture ruined things for Martin, Cancellara hasn’t won the duel since the 2010 Worlds in Geelong, Australia. In short recent history says Tony Martin can only be stopped by broken bones or burst tubes.
Are there others who can win? It would be reckless to ignore the others, for example Astana’s Tanel Kangert – third in the Giro’s Stage 8 – is a specialist and so is Marco Pinotti and the same with Belkin’s Stef Clement. We can expect them to be in the top-10 and
note Thomas de Gendt is hunting for a contract too, he’s hit and miss but could strike here.
Of course there is Vincenzo Nibali too. He’s the GC contender who can benefit most from today. He won the Giro’s mountain time trial and was fourth on Stage 8 too. But he was “only” 25th in the Tour of Poland recently although this was on a course that didn’t suit as it was wide and flat for the most part.
What about Chris Horner? The race leader’s got the Skeletor look but he’s won time trials before. His biggest win to date was the Tour of the Basque Country which was crowned with the time trial win. Above all the course suits him, don’t expect him to push a 55T chainring into a headwind on a flat road but if it’s hilly well he has surprised already and more is possible too.
We should expect Ivan Basso to take back some time today. As for Nicolas Roche he doesn’t have the build of a climber but he’s not got the results against the watch of a non-climber, it’s rare for him to crack the top-20 in a time trial but we’ll see if he’s improved here too.
Weather: sunny and warm with a 20km/h breeze from the south-east meaning a crosswind at times but not too pesky
TV: the first rider is off soon after 2.00pm Euro time with the last rider coming in around 5.45pm.Watch to the GC contenders in action so from around 4.30pm.
- After travelling no less than 700 km on the rest day, the race arrives to Aragon (not to be confused with the King of Gondor). This region of northern Spain is crossed by the Ebro river, the only major Iberian river to discharge in the Mediterranean. Please note that the Roman name of the river (Iberus Flumen) is the origin of the name of the peninsula.
- Time for politics. Every time there are national elections in Spain, news programs on TVshow maps where every province is coloured one way or another depending on the local winner. All three Aragonese provinces (Huesca, Saragossa, Teruel) are always on the winner’s side: blue if PP won the elections, red if PSOE did. Aragon never loses an election, no matter the prime minister.
- Tarazona is both the departure and finish line for today’s circular ITT. The circle is also the shape of the local bullfight arena, which is surrounded not by stands for the spectators, but by the balconies of the houses which surround it. That means some families can watch the corrida without leaving their houses.
- The third category climb of the day, Alto del Moncayo, refers to the Moncayo Massif. At 2,314 meters above sea level, this is the highest mountain of the Iberian System, one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain. The name Iberian, of course, refers to the Ebro river.
- Prominent Aragoneses include Francisco de Goya and Miguel Servet. Goya was a painter between 18th and 19th centuries, often considered as the first modern artist.
- Servet was a 16th century doctor who discovered the pulmonary circulation. Condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike, he was burnt as a heretic in Geneva (Switzerland).
Gracias to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel