Vuelta Stage 6 Preview

Thursday, 28 August 2014

It’s time to head inland for the first summit finish. The road to Cumbres Verdes is short but steep enough to be selective and enough to start filtering the contenders from the pretenders.

Stage 5 Wrap
An early break saw Tony Martin up the road but it wasn’t going to be an all day escape for him and he left Lotto-Belisol’s Pim Ligthart to carry on by himself. Tinkoff-Saxo brought millions out of their siesta thanks to an acceleration with 40km to go. The team spotted crosswinds and stretched the race out in a scene more usually associated with the spring classics. Abanico is Spanish for fan and the word used when the riders are spread across the road in a crosswind. They did split the bunch but their efforts weren’t reciprocated by Movistar, Katusha and Sky, seemingly the other strong teams in this race. Still the move condemned a few sprinters as well as GC outsiders like Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Kenny Elissonde.

The French government collapsed over the weekend and part of the background to the politics is debt, Germany and Euros. It wasn’t a replay but certainly Nacer Bouhanni was in oxygen debt and demanding something must be done about Degenkolb’s competitive abilities. In this instance Bouhanni’s complaints looked theatrical because Degenkolb kept his line. The complaints were formal too as the commissaires were instructed to review the finish but within minutes Degenkolb was spraying the cava on the podium. See the sprint for yourself.

The Route: a roll out along the coast and its resorts, passing through Malaga which will host the 2015 Vuelta start. All change at Torre del Mar and the race heads inland. The Alto de Zafaraya is a nice start to the climbing, 11km at 6% so nothing too hard. The same for the Alto de los Bermejales, 5km at 5%.

The Finish: the best is saved for last. Officially 4.6km at 7.8%, the first part of the climb is a soft 5% before a mid-section of 3km that averages over 10% before a final kilometre of 9%. Those two or three percentage points make all the difference: it’s short and steep but long enough to provide the first test of climbing legs.

As climbs go this is unusual, there are no bends in the road, it is almost straight from one end to the other as it climbs up past the pines to

The Scenario: good luck to an early break because it’s likely we see the main teams drive the pace as they approach the final climb and then the GC contenders and pretenders give it their best up the final climb. Don’t expect fireworks but there can be time gaps, the opening mountain stage is often a test and nobody wants to gamble and lose. I think the GC riders might mark each other and a second tier rider takes the stage.

The Contenders: the biggest test is for Alberto Contador. He’s looked fine so far and his time tried to split the race yesterday, a sign of ambition? We’ll see what he can do today. The same for Chris Froome who sneaked an intermediate time bonus yesterday, his form is unknown and apart from yesterday’s “sprint” we’ve yet to see him in action. He’s often willing to attack early, it’s worked well for him in some races but earlier this year his move in the Volta a Catalunya allowed others to follow and then pass him for the win.

Dan Martin is in great shape and this climb could suit him, he finishes fast if he can sit on the right wheels and dispatch his rivals in the final moments. Don’t forget Cadel Evans, he was winning stages in the Tour of Utah and yes this is a higher level but he’s fast from a group and the climb is short enough for him to stay punchy.

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Dani Moreno, Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome
Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Dan Martin
Cadel Evans
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Weather: hot and sunny again with the thermometer reaching 35°C. There’s no forecast for a breeze.

TV: As usual the finish is expected for 5.40pm Euro time.

It’s live on Eurosport, Universal Sports and more. If not cyclingfans and steephill.tv both have links to pirate feeds with the latter also listing where you can view the race properly too.

Daily Díaz: The Spanish word sierra has two principal meanings: a saw and a mountain range. That’s why so many mountainous systems in Spanish-speaking countries are called Sierra something: think of Sierra Nevada, in Spain (and in the US), Serra da Estrela, in Portugal, and the three Sierra Madre (Occidental, Oriental and del Sur) of Mexico.

Which meaning comes first? Well, take a look at some stage profiles (Giro stage 16, Tour stage 17, Vuelta stage 16) and they do look like a saw, right? So the tool gave the name to the mountain range. By the way, La Zubia is the birthplace of Francisco Cabello, a former professional cyclist who won a stage in 1994 Tour de France.

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

DiscoBadger August 28, 2014 at 8:30 am

5 Stars to Dan Martin. I think he’s gonna pull one out of the bag today, just cos he can. Froome’s not the only one with an ace up his sleeve; am hoping Arrendondo and Yates get in the mix too!

Nina August 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

They should forbid the flags and other stuff at the finish (as it is already done at the TdF). It is dangerous and takes away room for the sprinters. Must be annoying, too.

The Inner Ring August 28, 2014 at 10:06 am

They’ve adjusted the flags and other things so they’re not a danger to the riders, using inflatables and other non-solid things. Several years ago it was said Thor Hushovd cut his arm on a green plastic hand from PMU during the Tour, the company said it was something else but they changed the hands to make them from soft foam and give out 200,000 during the Tour.

Vitus August 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm

If it is hard or soft foam doesn’t matter, at the end of the day this useless advertising crap ends as useless garbage. I has to be forbidden for environmental reasons also as for annoying the riders.

Newby Cyclist August 28, 2014 at 9:28 am

Could you sort out the last paragraph, I really want to understand what the second meaning of Sierra.
Thanks.

Manuel Pérez August 28, 2014 at 10:36 am

This is a sierra: http://kpbs.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/news/tease/2013/01/02/mountains_770x300.jpeg
This is a sierra too: http://img.directoalpaladar.com/sierra.jpg
Which meaning comes first? Perhaps it’s like asking who came first: the hen or the egg.

Newby Cyclist August 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

Oops, sorry about the gravatar it follows me.

Cilmeri August 28, 2014 at 10:03 am

Really intrigued to know where the climb leads to. Please don’t leave us in suspense!

“As climbs go this is unusual, there are no bends in the road, it is almost straight from one end to the other as it climbs up past the pines to”

Hoping Martin, but will he stick to the GC guys now as presumably he’s the de facto leader of Garmin given the others lost time?

The Inner Ring August 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

Just the small village at the top it seems.

Jerome August 28, 2014 at 10:04 am

Surely people and language came across and named mountain ranges tens of thousands of years prior to creating iron saws?

The Inner Ring August 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

Maybe but what if the word to describe a “range” was more modern? The French talk of a “chain” of mountains but a chain too is a relatively modern invention.

flanaghan August 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

Italian uses “chain”, too

Leo August 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

Not sure that “chain” is a relatively modern invention. Haven’t we been locking up criminals in chains for thousands of years? I know that for me, when someone says chain, the first thing I think of is a bicycle chain, but surely that particular usage of the word came from the older form, as they are both a series of links, “chained” together…..

Tovarishch August 28, 2014 at 12:12 pm

According to Complete Guide to Chain, they were invented in 225 BC. Nor sure how they can be that precise unless they kept the till receipt. Saws, on the other hand, were made 7000 years and uncovered in Ur of the Chaldees. Not sure what Mesopotamian for mountain range is. (Quiet day at work!)

Dave Dineen August 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

True but few languages are ‘as old as the hills’ – the Spanish word sierra comes from the Latin word serra (serrated). Tens of thousands of years before saws were created we don’t know what language people were speaking but it certainly wasn’t Spanish or Latin.

Mats August 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

The day before yesterday Ryder H. explained how he’s not going to give up anything in terms of GC. On the next stage he gave away three minutes only because he and the entire team were goofing around in the back of the peloton instead of keeping an eye on what’s happening in the race. Who’s their DS and what is he doing there to earn his salary!

Sam August 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

Not sure who’s in the car, except I’m pretty sure it’s not Wegelius – but Garmin do have a habit of lolling around the rear of the peloton a lot of the time in races

elle August 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

Wegelius himself spent a lot of time there in his day: he calls it “the office” in his autobiog Domestique.

jollygoodvelo August 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Well, it was a bad day at the office for someone if they weren’t aware that on the flat bits of a country there might be a bit of wind around.

Anonymous August 28, 2014 at 11:38 am

Saxo once again liven up a stage in the entertainment business known as Pro Cycling. Garmin must have been watching another channel, except for Dan who was obviously fully awake. Great scenery yesterday absolutely loved it.

Sam August 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I think Dan was asleep for the 1st episode, woke up when the ads were on, and then worked like crazy to get back on before the series finished

Anonymous August 28, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Ha ha we shouldn’t criticize.

hoh August 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Saxo’s almost the “cross wind” team now. Oddly, their attacks in cross wind seldom had some detrimental effect.

Last year, they chipped a minute off Froome’s lead in the cross wind, but that’s the same amount Froome gave away in his Paris victory parade.

Even dropping Valverde for 10 minutes would seem more a blessing for Moviestar later on. Rui Costa got to win two stages and Quintana got an opportunity to shine for himself rather than being used as a pawn for Valverde.

Aussie August 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

Why was Sbaragli obviously pulling back Michael Matthews during the last 100m of the Vuelta Stage 5 sprint? I thought that was not allowed? ?

Stewart August 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

If you watch it again you will see that Matthews changes his line and Sbaragli just pushes him to change direction. If anything Sbaragli came off worse.

Scott L August 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Another correction, Second sentence of section, The Contenders. ‘ Time’ should be ‘team’

Anonymous August 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Dear professor Díaz: Portugal, a Spanish-speaking country !?

Manuel Pérez August 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Oops, sorry for that. Both “sierra” and “serra” have the same Latin origin, I didn’t pay enough attention when typing.

Anonymous August 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

It could perhaps be added that the adjective derived from “sierra” is “serrano”, hence “serrano” ham.

Chris August 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

See also “Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta”, an isolated mountain range in northern Colombia that has the country’s two highest peaks at ~5700 m. And no, there are no Colombian cyclists from that region ;)

Othersteve August 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I sense everyone is excited that Los Mantanas are quickly appearing on the horizon…

Tom August 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Looking forward to seeing the GC riders in action on the climb today. Should start to get an idea of who are the real contenders and who are the pretenders.

Anonymous August 28, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Well, it seems that the damned one won and seemed to perform best under less pressure.

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