Vuelta Stage 11 Preview

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

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.

The Scenario
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.

Daily Díaz

  • 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


Ian September 4, 2013 at 1:02 am

Martin to win in a canter for me. I think Nibali will be right up there and could be in red tomorrow night. I’m wondering about Cancellara though, he has had a hard few days looking after Horner and he may well be asked to hold back a little with the job he has ahead of him in the coming mountain stages. We may well see Kangert, Clement, Westra or Pinotti or possibly even LL Sanchez climb on to the podium.

Should be interesting!

Ablindeye September 4, 2013 at 1:25 am

Enjoying the previews as ever, thanks. I think de Gendt was a DNF on stage 10, unless that was another example of the disastrous Vuelta results service?

Ian September 4, 2013 at 1:27 am

Yep, him and Fenn DQed for hanging on to/drafting cars for too long

Jan September 4, 2013 at 2:05 am

Chris Horner looks REALLY gaunt in that picture.

In the paragraph about Martin and Cancellara, should that be Martin who’s won recently (except for the broken bones and such)?

Thanks again for these previews. They really help me enjoy the stages!

diamondjim September 4, 2013 at 3:27 am

Yep – “Cancellara has won the duel since the 2010 Worlds in Geelong” is missing the n’t after the word has.

Great review as always. Love the Skeletor reference. 🙂

The Inner Ring September 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

Thanks, fixed now.

Patrick September 4, 2013 at 3:30 am

Yes, quick bit of editing for you:
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 has NOT won the duel since the 2010 Worlds in Geelong, Australia

thanks for the great coverage, even if it requires a little reading between the lines 😉

The Inner Ring September 4, 2013 at 8:28 am


Willem September 4, 2013 at 7:59 am

I’m not so sure for Marco Pinotti as he indicated himself to have a mild cold (

Jason September 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

This is the day for Nibali.. He can climb like only a few and can descend like no other! I expect him to put at least a minute in next GC rival who will probably be Valverde. So there will be at least 2 minutes between the top two in GC…

If he is in good shape and can go for this I expect all other Astanas to go very easy as they will need to be ready to control things until Madrid..

Al__S September 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

the picture of Horner makes me doubt even more the clearly rubbish power figures that were being circulated- I really doubt whoever had calculated them had an accurate weight for him.

Kristoff September 4, 2013 at 10:35 am

The power figures that people calculate (Antoine Vayer, Vetoooo, etc.) are for the power of a standardised rider (who usually weights 78kg including their bike) to have done the climb in the same time as the rider in question. This is easier to calculate and has the benefit of being comparable across all riders and climbs.

Stephen_M September 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Indeed, it’s looking at the theoretical limits of human performance. For me though, the issue around most of these things isn’t so much looking at a theoretical human, but the one in front of us. Horner has always been a decent athlete and had a few good results in his career, but has the last week’s racing reflected this known ability? I think it’s unsual. Even more unusual that he seems to be doing at an age when his ability should be dimished.

Nick September 4, 2013 at 10:34 am

Mr INRNG – i hope it isn’t cheeky for me to ask but would it be possible to place the GC etc on the previews as you did during the TDF? Unless these are set up to automatically upload of course, then i understand that would be impossible!

Michael September 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

I might be wrong….but didn’t Martin also suffer a flat in the Geelong TT?

Scott September 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Pretty sure he did

LM September 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Great coverage; Daily Diaz is the desert.

Rod September 4, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I’m looking forward to seeing the size chainring Tony Martin chooses for the descent!

Patrick September 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Miguel Servet is probably better known, at least in the english-speaking world, as Michael Servetus

Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Actually the climb is 11km @ 5%. It starts before km 9.

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