Vuelta Stage 10 Preview

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Crucial, vital, decisive – pick your adjective. Today’s 36.7km time trial is an important stage and a chance to reshape the overall classification before a series of summit finishes.

The Route: the mid-race hilly time trial is a modern classic for the Vuelta. But looks can be deceptive with the profile above as the climbing to the Alto del Moncayo is a gradual drag rather than a climb proper for the most part. It has its hard moments particularly towards the top where it’s steep and exposed – passing through terrain suitable to film a western – but remains a place where riders will climb in an aero tuck on their time trial bikes for a lot of the time.

The descent isn’t particularly technical on a normal ride but this isn’t ordinary. For a time trial the snaking bends invite the skilled and the reckless to stay with their arms on the tri bars and rests. On Google Earth the road looks like it’s got mucho loose gravel but hopefully by the time the race comes through it’s tidier. The road widens and flattens on the run into Borja and there’ll be a tailwind, ideal for Tony Martin’s 58T chainring. In summary it’s got its moments but this is a course to advantage the power riders but hardly something out of the Eneco Tour.

The Contenders: Tony Martin vs the rest? We thought this last year and Fabian Cancellara won the day. So the contest or at least the hope of one will be good for the stage win. Neither has given us much of a clue as to their form.

Chris Froome has won time trials before but he’s not in form and Sky’s approach to the Vuelta is different than their planning for the Tour. Time trial courses aren’t visited months in advance, climbs aren’t climbed before the race. When Froome rode the Vuelta in 2012 we saw his bid fall apart on the time trial, his cornering visibly hesitant compared to those who were at home on the roads. Still the red jersey is within reach.

The last time Froome and Alberto Contador clashed in a hilly time trial like this was the 2013 Tour de France above the Lac de Serre-Ponçon in the Alps for the 2013 Tour. Froome just got the better but Contador could shade him this time.

Rigoberto Uran is increasingly good at time trials as his Giro stage win showed. Since his return to racing he’s seemed a touch off the pace uphill in the Vuelta but was strong in the Tour de l’Ain prologue. Hard to extrapolate too much but he should be at ease here.

Nairo Quintana will be good to watch. For a long time he’s been seen as A Colombian Climber, in other words how could he possibly do a good time trial. But now people have seem the results and he’s excellent in this area. But is his advantage from a good position and power or has he got what it takes to corner fast and use the gears? Seeing how he copes with the technical aspects will be interesting.

Tony Martin
Fabian Cancellara, Chris Froome
Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Contador, Wilco Kelderman
Nairo Quintana
Sergent, Dennis, Malori, Ludvigsson, Lutsensko, Jungels, Coppel, Kiriyienka

TV: Riders go in reverse GC order and with Tony Martin at 77th overall he could experience different conditions on the course to the GC contenders. 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: Borja, today’s stage finish, is a town of just 5,000 people but remarkable for two different facts. First, it gives name to the house of Borgia (Spanish Borja [ˈborxa] is read [ˈbɔɾdʒa] in Catalan, then Italian, where the spelling becomes Borgia), a powerful family during the Italian Renaissance. This house produced two popes, many enemies and a handful of infamous legends. If you have heard or read stories about popes having wives and children and taking part in orgies, the Borja/Borgia family is probably behind them. Second, in 2012 a local old lady tried to restore the Ecce Homo, a religious painting, with a disastrous result which gave notoriety to an otherwise irrelevant fresco.

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

Larrick September 2, 2014 at 6:26 am

Looks like you may have left AC off your 5 to 1 chainring guide having mentioned him earlier. It just might not go down too well with some of your readers

Jason September 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

Yes, I believe that AC will do well on the TT and will be in red at the end of the day… Froome might minimize some loses but will not thrash the field as some believe…

The Inner Ring September 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

He’s back! Not sure he’s able to win today but each day he’s surprising.

Right Knider September 2, 2014 at 8:49 am
Md September 2, 2014 at 10:42 am

Think she still did a better job than if I were to attempt it….

GeorgeY September 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

She is the grandmother of Mr Bean*, undoubtedly!

* Who restored Whistler’s Mother painting in the first feature film “Bean”

Dave B September 2, 2014 at 9:59 am

Castroviejo could be up there too – unless he’s being asked to save himself for domestique duties?

The Inner Ring September 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

Good pick too but he’s a specialist, but often been a shorter distance TT specialist and as you say will Movistar give or even order some riders to rest today?

Anonymous September 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

He’s perhaps just too light for this course.

Dave B September 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Indeed – 6 mins down on Tony Martin so it seems like either it didn’t suit him, or he soft-pedalled, or both!

Francisco September 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

The weather forecasts superimposed on the stage profiles are a nice addition, thanks!

Sam September 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

Not today, Froome. I just can’t see him taking 26s+ out of Bert on this course with him not at the top of his game

(yeah, I know, he’ll go and smash it out of the park now I’ve said this)

Mark Williams September 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

What about Malori for Movistar? He has regularly been up there in the time trials this year and I am right in thinking he has beaten Tony Martin this year?

Sam September 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Malori beat Martin at T-A, and before that finished just ahead of him but with both behind Kwiatkowski at Algarve. However, both were sub-14km TTs. I’ll be surprised if he beats him on this longer course.

Robbie September 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

Academic podcast on the Borgias. Not cycling related at all but to add to Manuel’s interesting reads:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nzgjz

Manuel Pérez September 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Thanks, for that, Robbie!

Larry T. September 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

I’m having a hard time understanding why Froome is not on form. Wasn’t too long ago that we heard he was in the form of his life and coulda, shoulda, woulda won Le Beeg Shew…same as Il Pistolero. Yet both crashed out of that race but only Pistolero is showing good form now. What happened to all those marginal gains? They just evaporated? Amazingly a moment of not paying 100% attention cost Quintana big time in the chrono rather than Froome for a change. Hope he’s not too beat up to continue and now isn’t forced into being only a gregario for the Green Bullet. Seems (as usual) the third week will be key.

MikeF September 3, 2014 at 12:10 am

Form does tend to evaporate with time off the bike. As their teams are not going to give the public detailed information on how much training Contador and Froome were able to do in the weeks after their injuries, the only way we can find out who lost form and who was able to regain it is watching them race.

I also suspect Contador is more relaxed at “winging it” on a race he hasn’t fully trained for and recced than Froome is. The Team Sky declaration when they were winning was “we’ve trained for this”. Well, they haven’t this time.

Paul H September 3, 2014 at 12:29 am

“I’m having a hard time understanding why Froome is not on form.”

To be honest, looking back at his season, it’s really not a surprise to see him in the sort of form he seems to be. Too much of a stop-start year, having to miss Tirreno with lower back issues, then missing Liege-Bastogne-Liege through illness, more back issues reported leading up to the Dauphine, crashing at the Dauphine, multiple crashes at TdF, broken bones. The Dauphine crash really seemed to affect him and his form since then has completely disappeared. Not at all convinced, in hindsight, that he was any where near ready for the TdF, although I’m assuming that Brailsford wouldn’t have thrown him in without some level of confidence that he could get the job done. Then of course he only managed five days of racing before crashing out. As for the Vuelta it seems to me he is seriously undercooked, his racing KMs are way down against his GC rivals. Will be interesting to see how he goes this week and next, perhaps he can find his legs the longer the race goes and at least compete for a podium spot.

Larry T. September 3, 2014 at 4:21 am

Everything you pointed out makes perfect sense. My point was none of this fits with the constant hype coming out of the SKY camp..the same camp who demonstrated the hubris to declare pre-Tour how they’d like to win LeTour with a French rider in the future. I’ll leave it at that since everyone well knows my dislike for Murdoch’s team.

Tovarishch September 3, 2014 at 8:17 am

On Sky’s web site Froome said that he felt so good as the start of the TT that he probably overdid it and went into the red. I thought that he spent all his time staring at his stem to check that he wasn’t doing precisely that . I can only assume that he has a Kindle there rather than a power meter :-)

Ihave said before that it does seem that overall decline in Sky’s results and the relatively poor performance of the Sky train coincided with the change to Stages power meters.

Anonymous September 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

Seeing how infertile much of the Spanish land is, as compared to France for instance, I can’t help but feel a little pity (and fascination). Spectacular stage, at any rate.

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