Vuelta Stage 12 Preview

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Yesterday Tarazona, today Tarragona. It should be a sprint stage but this is conditional for reasons to be explained below.

Stage 11 Review
Domenico Pozzovivo
A rare time trial win for Fabian Cancellara who beat Tony Martin. It’s about time the Swiss rider got the better of his German rival (who actually lives in Switzerland too). Vincenzo Nibali took back the red jersey as even Chris Horner’s elixir of youth can’t alter time. Bizarre result of the day is Domenico Pozzovivo, the Ag2r rider took third place. As the photo shows he didn’t even use a time trial frame. It was a surprise but he’s not a pure mountain goat, for example he’s been top-20 in the recent Tour of Poland and the Giro’s Saltara coast time trial.

The Route: the race heads east to the coast. The Alto del Collet is a third category climb and climbs for 7.5 km at a gentle 3.6%.

The Finish: another urban finish with some twists and turns. It’s slightly uphill to the line on the Rambla Vella… but only just.

The Scenario: a sprint stage? The flat route says yes but the teams have had trouble getting organised with the chase. Without a big sprinter and the locomotive force of an accompanying sprint train, each team seems reluctant to commit to the effort. Orica-Greenedge have been keen but they don’t want to give a free ride to the others. Also note the points competition is the preserve of the climbers with Dani Moreno leading Alejandro Valverde. In other words Michael Matthews and Maxi Richeze are out of the running and another incentive to set up a sprint is lost.

So there’s a good chance of Matthews, Richeze and other sprinters like Farrar and Meersman trying but what about a break going away? Picks here get very difficult, it’s a lottery.

Weather: sunny and mild but not hot. There will be a few clouds in the sky and a gentle breeze means fine conditions for racing.

TV: the finish is expected for 5.45pm Euro time. Tune in for the final half hour to see if a break can get the jump on the bunch.

Daily Díaz

  • Spanish region comprises four provinces (Barcelona, of course, but also Girona, Lleida and Tarragona) and borders Andorra and France.
  • Catalan language, however, is also spoken out of Catalonia (other Spanish regions, Andorra, some French departments and even an Italian city). A controversial issue, we’ll find bilingual road signs, as we did in Galicia. Catalan Girona is Spanish Gerona, and Catalan Lleida is Spanish Lérida (Barcelona and Tarragona are spelled the same way in both languages).
  • In km 149,2 (15 to the finish line) there is an intermediate sprint at Port Aventura, a theme park that opened in 1995. The whole Costa Daurada (Mediterranean coast along Tarragona province) is a major destination for both Spanish and European tourists.
  • Tarragona today is a small city, especially in comparison with Barcelona. 2,000 years ago, however, it was the capital city of Tarraconense, the Roman province that comprised most of the Iberian peninsula. Pay attention to the amphitheatre by the sea.
  • Catalonia’s national day is on September 11. Catalan nationalists are preparing a human chain to support the pro-independence movement. The race will already be elsewhere, but it would be no surprise to see some “Catalonia is not Spain” signs during Catalan stages.

Many thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel

Al-Bo September 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

If Pozzovivo can do that in a time trial, he’s presumably worth watching during this weekend’s mountain stages. I might have to reconsider how I feel about him though. I’ve always loved him for his apparent one-dimensionality, but this kind of thing really undermines that.

JimS September 5, 2013 at 9:50 am

You should see Pozzovivo play the piano on the Italian TV show Il Processo della Tappa after a big stage of the Giro…

Steppings September 5, 2013 at 10:07 am

Hopefully with the lack of organisation of the “Sprint” teams on what looks like a typical sprinters stage will actually make this a rather more interesting day.

Ronan September 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

‘Pozz’ has always had that potential. He held off the bunch on a flat drag for his stage win in the Giro last year.

Larry T. September 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I read that tiny Pozzovivo was beaten only by Spartacus and der Panzerwagen. Back-in-the-day before aero bars and such, little guys (like Charly Mottet) could fold themselves up enough to be competitive against the big motors..but since aero bars made pretty much everybody the same aerodynamically, the chrono (think BigMig) has been pretty much a power event. Exceptions like Marco Pantani were fueled by…….well, you know. I hope that’s not going to turn out to be the case this time…but that sick feeling remains.

Sam September 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

It was not…a comfortable watch.

Denny September 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

11.5km
Cancellara 19:06
Pozzovivo +5
Martin +14

18km
Pozzovivo 31:06
Cancellara +13
Martin +18

26km
Cancellara 38:31
Pozzovivo +30
Martin +34

Finish (38.8km)
Cancellara 51:00
Martin +37
Pozzovivo +1:24

So Pozzovivo lost 1:37 to Cancellara and 1:05 to Martin in the last 20km – from the middle of the climb (18km) to the finish.

Al-Bo September 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Good context. I daresay he was even further ahead at the summit and therefore lost even more time on the descent. Just because it’s a time trial doesn’t mean gravity ceases to have an effect and he’s as light as they come.

Anonymous September 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Great result today I am really pleased.

mot September 6, 2013 at 2:35 am

Perhaps the frame choice worked in his favour in those difficult road conditions.
Regarding doping controls( to minimize ” sick feeling in my stomach”), I suggest organizers/owners
of races man-up with a mandatory(%of race gross) fund to drug agency certified(you know the alphabets) Independent testing equipment and Techs in a mobile unit.
Results of A&B before the next stage.
It can be done& it would be a cost of doing “business” for the o/os.

Bundle September 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Mobile testing units? Immediate results? Remember Savona? :)

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