Volta a Catalunya Stage 2 Preview

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Luka Mezgec won yesterday but did he plan for a second stage win? Because today’s stage suits the sprinters as it speeds to Girona.

Stage 1 Wrap: an early break by Boris Vallée (Lotto-Belisol) and Romain Lemarchard (Cofidis) allowed the former to take the points jersey, the latter to take the mountains jersey. They were reeled in, caught at first by Amets Txurruka then the bunch. A few late attacks but the bunch sprint was always on the cards. The only one who didn’t get the message was the camera operator in Calella who zoomed in on the bunch as they raced to the line and managed to crop out the finish line meaning TV viewers didn’t get to see who won.

What do you do if you’re a sprinter on a team with John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel? Simple, you win. Luka Mezgec might not get a lot of chances nor Giant-Shimano’s finest wagons to lead him out but he’s got two wins already this year and is a handy back up for the team. Some teams chose not to have sprinters because it’s not worth trying to beat the best but Giant-Shimano do the opposite, a bit like the old High Road team. Two other notes:

  • Sick and DNF in Tirreno-Adriatico Richie Porte was among the riders who lost time, rolling in with a dropped group and saying he felt “empty”
  • Third place went to Julian Alaphilippe of OPQS. The French neo-pro isn’t really a sprinter, in fact he won a summit finish in last year’s Tour de l’Avenir. Solo. With a broken back wheel. He’s hard to label as he can climb, sprint, is good cyclocross. He can do it all and that’s why OPQS hired him

Stage 2 Preview

The stage looks spiky but the y-axis has been stretched so much that the 350m high climbs look big but Santa Pellaia is 5.9km at 4% average, peaking at 6%. Another sprint finish is on the cards although like yesterday the sprinters have to work for it. As we saw yesterday the climbs might not alter the race but the descents require riders to be well-placed. But that last spike before the finish is nothing of the sort, the Nacional II road is big, wide and barely requires a gear change. The finish in Girona is on the Carrer d’Emili Grahit, flat and one of the town’s biggest roads.

The Contenders: Luka Megzec and Leigh Howard (Orica-Greenedge) are the two fastest riders but there are others looking for a chance like Robert Ferrari (Lampre-Merida). Yesterday’s top-10 saw a mix of riders who aren’t pure sprinters.

Weather: warmer than Monday… but wetter. Rain is forecast with temperatures of 18°C. There’s a breeze but nothing savage.

TV: the same all week, 90 minutes starting from 3.30pm to 5.00pm Euro time. It’s on TV in Spain and Eurosport around the world but if you can’t find it on TV cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for TV schedules and feeds.

Catalonia map

Daily Diaz: Catalonia’s limits are the Pyrenees to the north and the Mediterranean sea to the southeast. The Ebre river is sometimes considered the southwest border, but this is not very accurate. The only Spanish territories north of the Pyrenees belong to Catalonia: Aran Valley (which will be crossed by the Tour de France on July 23rd) and the exclave of Llívia. The highest peak is the Pica d’Estats (3,143 m).

  • INRNG: I’d add that if Catalonia is a formal region in Spain, some areas north of the border in France have a strong Catalan identity with locals speaking Catalan and the flag is visible there too

Gràcies to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel and he is also covering the race in Catalan for the Només Ciclisme blog

Kelly's Bidon March 25, 2014 at 7:58 am

Being a fan of Richie Porte, I have to admit to concern over his current form. Something is obviously awry. According to the Sky management Porte has been going well in training, but suddenly didn’t feel well on yesterday’s stage. What is telling is the fact that the Sky DS instructed Danny Pate and young Josh Edmonson to accompany Richie to the finish when he failed to keep pace on the last climb. And this following his withdrawal from Tirreno after ‘falling ill overnight’…yup, something’s not right with the lad.

The Inner Ring March 25, 2014 at 9:27 am

He said he felt empty yesterday and if it continues he’ll leave the race.

peloton.pl March 25, 2014 at 11:25 am

These might be long-term effects of birthday celebration http://cameronwurf.blogspot.com/2014/01/ritchies-birthday-party.html

Sam March 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

too many tolblerones? not enough toblerones?

:-)

Kelly's Bidon March 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for that…sheesh, what a ride! I’m blaming the mars bars.

noel March 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I love it that he can’t spell his mate’s name right…

noel March 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Frooome might be staring down the barrel of relying on Wiggo as his super domestique this summer…God, I hope so!

just had a gander at the Sky gallery of their training session in Monaco. Thomas looks sooo thin…

Robbo March 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Porte wasn’t scheduled to ride the Tour, was he? I thought he is leader at the Giro. I wonder when Sky reassess that decision given these recent performances, both from the perspective of Porte’s ability to win the Giro and his ability to lead a squad that fully believes in him as a potential winner.

Sam March 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm

His performances were on track, I think, till he got sick during T-A:

– won queen stage of TDU
– 2nd at Ruta del Sol
– 4th at T-A after stage 4, having finished just 5s down on Contador on that stage

I wouldnt say there’s anything to have concerned Sky there.

Think the only one of his main rivals for the Giro to have won a stage race so far this season is Quintana, no?

Bundle March 25, 2014 at 8:35 am

Young Van der Sande did well in the sprint yesterday… Wouldn’t be surprised if he improved his result.
One pedantic point: the Navarrese village of Valcarlos, on the northern side of Roncevaux/Roncesvalles, is another Spanish locality north of the Pyrenees.

Manuel Pérez Díaz March 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

You’re right, my mistake.

Bundle March 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

No passa res, bona feina de totes maneres. ;)

Mark March 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

Joe Friel training plan!!!

Victor March 25, 2014 at 10:52 am

To add to the INRNG addition on the Daily Díaz, other regions in Spain also have a very strong catalan identity, even more so than North Catalonia in France: the Balearic Islands and Valencia. The area of catalan linguistic and culture influence is known as Països Catalans (Catalan Countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pa%C3%AFsos_Catalans). Moltes gràcies pels apunts locals i pel teu excelent blog, Manuel!

gabriele March 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I don’t know, personally, what do they think about it in Balearic Islands, but better you don’t tell anything like this to most people from Valencia that I know… :-)
In fact, the Wikipedia page you linked stresses this aspect of the question quite well.

Moreno March 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Alaphilippe is the real deal. He and OPQS don’t know what type of rider he will become.

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