A short stage with a sharp finish up a narrow track. After yesterday’s time trial will the race for red be fixed today or will others be out of revenge and a chance to open up the race?
Stage 10 Wrap: Tony Martin won but that was the only predictable moment of the day. His win wasn’t as crushing as we might expect with Rigoberto Uran at 15 seconds and Fabian Cancellara 18 seconds behind… including a seven second time penalty for drafting (why seven seconds?).
Alberto Contador didn’t win the stage but he did win the day. His physio session leaves him looking almost untouchable now with 27 seconds on Alejandro Valverde and 59 on Uran: we’ve seen him climbing better than them in the race so far and he said he hoped to ride himself into form.
For a small man Nairo Quintana had a big loss of over four minutes after running out of road on the descent and executing a somersault over the bars. Unlucky… but lucky not to come off worse. He’s down on GC and even at his best taking time in the mountains is going to be a big ask. A team mate for Valverde now as Movistar aim for the podium? They still have cards to play.
Meanwhile Chris Froome’s hopes rest on salvaging a podium place after getting savaged in the time trial. Once a specialist discipline he was off the pace and didn’t look his usual smooth self – when in a time trial tuck he’s more of a stylist.
Bike Tech: one small observation was OPQS riding with their rear quick release skewers on the wrong way around. Why? The lever is used to tuck the rear mech cable in-line with the frame. The photo shows Tony Martin and Uran was spotted with the same.
The Route: a short day at just 140km to cover before the final climb. It’s all about the final climb, the riding on the way doesn’t offer much of a challenge. The terrain suits a breakaway.
The Finish: the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar is a novelty for the race in more ways than one. Used for the first time this is also a concrete road rather than the usual bitumen surface making it that bit harder. You’ll find many a betonweg in Belgium but those are rolled flat while this is the kind where workers pour the concrete and them someone scars the surface with a brush to make a more adhesive surface. It’s narrow, slow and barely a road. As the profile shows it’s steep too with irregular sections as the road pitches up.
The Scenario: good weather favours the peloton but by now so many riders have lost time that they’ll never recover so it’s a good day for a breakaway and two races for the price of one: the stage win and the GC battle.
The Contenders: Alberto Contador is the default choice. He’s better than the rest and must be feeling more confident than than he’s been for a long time. Joaquim Rodriguez will appreciate the final climb, in the past almost a shoe-in but he’s less incisive in this race and more consistent.
Today’s finish is near Nairo Quintana’s adopted home in Spain in case he wants more motivation. The same region has been Rigoberto Uran’s base too but the mane-man seems to be better at time trials than climbing so maybe a sore Quintana gets the better of the two?
Can Chris Froome bounce back? If he’d suffered misfortune yesterday maybe the chances would be better but he got his pacing wrong and was slower than his rivals which suggests form and function are the problems. Samuel Sanchez could one to watch out for too, he’s been getting better as the race goes on and has Cadel Evans behind him too.
|Joaquim Rodriguez, Nairo Quintana|
|Chris Froome, Samuel Sanchez, Alejandro Valverde|
|Uran, Dan Martin, Chaves, Nieve, De Marchi|
TV: As usual the finish is expected for 5.40pm Euro time.
Daily Díaz: Km 96,2, second intermediate sprint of the day in the city of Estella (Spanish) or Lizarra (Basque), which hosts the GP Miguel Indurain every spring. This small city as the capital of Spain for a brief time in the 19th century. How can that be possible? Well, in 1833, after the death of king Ferdinand VII, there was a civil war
between his daughter (3yearold Isabella II) and his brother (pretender Charles). Before dying, Ferdinand abolished the Salic Law, which forbid women to inherit the Spanish Crown, so that his only daughter would be queen, not his brother. Charles was very disappointed, as we can imagine, and in the name of the true religion started a war against his niece with the double goal of becoming king and returning to an absolute monarchy (Isabella’s supporters were liberal). The pretender was more successful in the north of Spain (Navarre, the Basque Country, Aragon, Catalonia, which wanted their local laws and taxes to be respected), but the biggest town he could control was Estella, which was his capital until 1839, when Charles decided he had lost the war and left the country for good.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel