Vuelta a España Stage 10 Preview

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Tour de France went to Vittel, now the Vuelta goes to ElPozo… the large processed meat company that sponsors the race.

The Route: the main feature is the climbing in the Sierra Espuña. Collado Bermejo is listed as 7.7km at 6.5% but the race has split the climb into two with the climb to Totana as 2-4% but there’s a 7% section to go before they tackle the second part of the climb, 7.7km at 6.5% but with a lot of 7-8% slopes along the way as the road winds up through the pine forests. It’s chased by a fast and technical descent into Alhama (derived from the Arabic for “the baths” because of the local hot springs, this is a geologically active area… see the Daily Díaz for more)

The Finish: the gradient eases as they arrive in town and there are the usual roundabouts to negotiate before a finish on a big boulevard leaving town just next to the ElPozo HQ and factory.

The Contenders: a break or a sprint among the main GC guys? A break has a good chance today and we’ll see if Julian Alaphilppe can double up. He’s also a pick to win among the GC contenders, on a good day he can match them on a short climbs and if his form is not there yet he can descend well enough to catch them and offers assurance for the sprint. But he’s one among 179 riders.

Luis Leon Sanchez fluffed a stage already, uncharacteristic for someone usually so handy at entrapping their rivals before soloing away. So another one to watch. Astana team mate Alexey Lutsenko is powerful but today might be too hilly.

Vincenzo Nibali is always good for a downhill finish but is his form there? His problem is also is that he’s still fourth overall and so none of his podium rivals will allow him to go for a consolatory stage win either. But as we saw in Andorra he’s good at sniffing out success.

Alberto Contador is looking frisky but slipping Chris Froome is a hard task. So can Jarlinson Pantano win the stage? The Colombian is a great descender and can sprint well out of a small group.

Thomas De Gendt is a perpetual contender for the breakaway. This time the final climb suits his strong and powerful climbing style.

Nicolas Roche is riding high on GC so he can climb and he packs a powerful finish but as ever his win rate is very low so he’s not the type to bet big on.

Julian Alaphilippe, Jarlinson Pantano
Sanchez, Roche, De Gendt, Majka, Visconti, Atapuma

Weather: warm and sunny but not hot, just 28°C in the shade.

TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. The climbing begins at 4.30pm and the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.

Daily Díaz: Caravaca de la Cruz is one of the five holy cities of Catholicism (three of them are in Spain, and one of them will be reached on stage 18). The reason? A fragment of the lignum crucis (True Cross) is there. Fast forward to KM65: Lorca was hit by an earthquake in 2011. Murcia is actually one of the riskiest areas to live in Spain, if you look at how often the land shakes (check the map). After dramatic information on religious and scientific issues, time for some food. ElPozo is listed as one of the sponsors of the race (such as Movistar, Europcar, Cofidis, Dimension Data or Seguros RGA). It produces and sells pork products all around Spain. Actually, Murcia is one of the top provinces of Spain according to the pigs/km2 ranking.

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

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Better than cycling mole August 29, 2017 at 7:14 am

I would definitely add Bob Jungels to that list – longer, less steep climbing and rainy conditions suite him perfectly.

jc August 29, 2017 at 7:16 am

Is it just me or does the 1st cat climb just before the end seem gratuitous? Surely it would better to have a proper sprint stage or even a finish suited to puncheurs? There is hardly a shortage of climbs in the race.

Picking a winner is harder than normal. Assuming the break is no threat it seems unlikely Sky will put in much effort to pull it back, likewise Orica or BMC. I guess the wildcard teams will be very keen to spin the wheel and get in the break, so maybe a rider from Aqua Blue?

Ferdi August 29, 2017 at 11:49 am

I think the first line of your second paragraph negates your first paragraph.

jc August 29, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I think the race lacks variety, there is hardly a shortage of climbs. There was a debate here a few days ago about “What is the point of the Vuelta” and a number of folk got upset that not everyone seems as taken by the the race as they are. However unless the race can attract not just the top climbers but also other types of riders eg Peter Sagan or GvA it will continue to be seen as the poor relation to The Giro and Tour. Today was a perfect opportunity for a sprint stage or a punchy uphill finish but instead we have a Cat 1 climb a good distance away from the finish. We are likely to see a rather dull procession, the peloton happy to roll in a good few minutes down on the winner. Maybe some weather related chaos will happen but better to have a more varied course than hope it rains in Spain in August.

Ferdi August 29, 2017 at 12:23 pm

You don’t like breakaways? They’re like mini-classics, much more fun than sprints, and they also influence GC.

Valverde's Knee August 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm

I think this race is 21 days of variety. How many days have you been able to reliably say who was going to win? That’s variety. This is not a sprinter’s tour and I for one am glad.

Richard S August 29, 2017 at 12:37 pm

The Vuelta used to attract most of the top classics riders as it was seen as the ideal prep for the Worlds. Now not many/any of those seem to bother and instead prefer the Tour of Britain. It wasn’t that long ago you had Cavendish and Greipel going the full course for the points jersey. Now you barely get a sprinter in the race and the points jersey usually goes to a punchy climber (Valverde!). In those days however you didn’t exactly get the A-list GC men in attendance, whereas now you do. The sprinters obviously don’t come anymore because the course offers them no opportunities. The classics guys maybe just prefer the Tour of Britain and the chance to race various one day races, such as those in Canada. The course seems to still offer them the chance of a few stage wins. I’m not sure the top GC men coming along more nowadays has anything to do with the course. Do they prefer having to be in the mix daily on a series of short uphill sprints? You’d think they’d prefer a bit of downtime and a few set piece stages. The fact that they have been in attendance more often lately might just be a result of Froome liking the race, Contador/Valverde/Purito being Spanish, Quintana riding for a Spanish team, and Nibali/Aru combining it with the Giro. Personally I’ve enjoyed this Vuelta so far but I am starting to get a little bored with each stage being pretty similar, which I get every year by about this point! The big mountain stages and the TT should be good though. I enjoy a sprint finish (not every day like in the first part of the Tour this year) and a nice rolling day for the classics men. Variety is always best.

Vitus August 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Is it just me or is complaining about Vuelta and other GC routes a pointless hobby for a lot of folks here?
If there is a sprint stage, there will be complaints, if it’s a short climb finish, there will be complaints, a mountain finish, some will find the ascent to steep/flat/not high enough, a cat1 mountain with a descent finish is too risky/too far/to Spanish. And velodrooms are too wooden and to round, TTs are too short/too long. Boring.

Vitus August 29, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I also want to complain about pigs/km2, Why not cows? And no sheeps/km2 are so anti-NZ

Mattgc August 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Pigs are very relevant at Tro Bro Leon

Somers August 29, 2017 at 7:36 am

Here’s hoping that Cannondale don’t ride on the front again. The only chance for a long range attack is to break Sky and it might happen in the last week if they have to keep riding every day but it wont happen with Cannondale chauffeuring them to the finish each day.

Anonymouse August 29, 2017 at 8:55 am

On Sunday’s stage, Woods knew he’d be one of the best, so for all their indignation-fueled reasons, it actually made sense to chase the escapees. Today’s climbing probably suits him much less, or at best is an unknown for him. On top of that, KOM Villella and the others will increasingly want to be part of a breakaway to show themselves to potentially interested teams.

BigSigh August 29, 2017 at 9:31 am

Villella has already signed for Astana for next year, of course, but obviously others not so I’m just being slightly pedantic.

Anonymouse August 29, 2017 at 9:56 am

Ah, missed that about Villella, thanks for pointing it out.

David August 29, 2017 at 7:53 am

What about bardet? He can descend too and if they let him go, maybe when team sky isn’t going full throttle he has a chance.

CM August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

I must admit it: I rarely use the measure of pigs/km2 ranking.
Pigs per cubic kilometre is quite useful when they are flying, I think.

Mark H August 29, 2017 at 10:22 am

It’s the only ranking I ever use.

I do enjoy the Daily Diaz, nice to learn a bit more about Spain and it’s history. Especially coming from a British perspective where it’s place in the public consciousness is as a lovely place for holiday (which it is) but not much more, when in reality it is a diverse and interesting place (I find it bizarre that it’s only been a democracy for less than 40 years).

megi August 29, 2017 at 10:29 am

Pig kmh is also useful when calculating which pig is winning.

Stuie August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

Bardet a good bet for today. Contador needs to take time on rivals so expect him to attack, Froome may want to distance Nibali before the descent.

The Inner Ring August 29, 2017 at 10:25 am

He’s one to watch but I think he might try sitting back for a few days before going for a mountain stage again via a breakaway. We’ll see.

Graham August 29, 2017 at 10:23 am

Sure about that weather forecast Mr Inrng? Seen predictions ranging from biblical rain to showers, first rain in months there which could make the roads a trifle slippy.

The Inner Ring August 29, 2017 at 10:24 am

Looks like it has changed overnight (all previews are written on the eve of the stage) and so rain is a possibility as you say.

jc August 29, 2017 at 10:41 am

It appears that there is a slow moving band of rain is not far from the coast, changing more into thundery showers as the day goes on. So could be mostly dry for the race or could be pretty wet, though it does seem as if the riders will see at least a couple of hours of wet conditions. The riders will probably welcome the less hot conditions but given that this will be the first rain in months could make the roads rather slippery. Might not be good for the riders health, wet conditions often cause more colds and infections.

Valverde's Knee August 29, 2017 at 12:45 pm

All except one of them. Froome famously prefers sweltering heat. Just one more reason why the Giro is his least favoured grand tour.

Ecky Thump August 29, 2017 at 10:25 am

I never thought i’d see the day when Inner Ring is reduced to spamming.

J Evans August 29, 2017 at 10:33 am

Bravo.

J Evans August 29, 2017 at 10:29 am

I just want Jan Polanc to win a stage.

ZigaK August 29, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Apparently he took it pretty hard the other day coming in 2nd after Alaphilippe. He’s also high on the gc, so less chances he would be let in to a breakaway. Apparently the team insisted he should not deliberately loose time on stage 9 as he is the best placed UAE rider.

J Evans August 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Interesting stuff – thanks. Not sure I’m with the team on that one – better to win a stage than top 10 on GC overall? Hard to say.

IanPa August 29, 2017 at 11:13 am

Noticed that Simon Yates dropped down the other day.. stage hunting for him I guess. Possible for today?

Anonymouse August 29, 2017 at 11:39 am

It might be he’s simply not feeling very good, but a good observation nonetheless. Simon Yates and Jack Haig in the brake would make a winning pair.

Ferdi August 29, 2017 at 11:52 am

Orica should really start trying to stage a 3-pronged coup forcing Froome to chase in person with Chaves on his wheel. Contador is very likely to help disrupt Sky.

Valverde's Knee August 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Now Simon Yates dropped their window of opportunity for that has closed a little. The only one others might chase is Adam Yates but even then Froome has some minutes to play with. The other day I saw an interview with the Orica DS where he said Froome could take 3 minutes in a time trial from all of his guys.

Richard S August 29, 2017 at 1:53 pm

That’s the thing. For this race to be close the time gaps in the top 9 would have to be the other way round to what they are now. I.e. Yates et al edging a minute or two clear of Froome with the prospect of increasing it. At the moment Froome can afford to have a really bad day and still win quite comfortably. Nice insurance to have on the Angliru!
Does anybody know what Nico Roche is like in a TT when he really means it? At this rate Van Garderen might be the best bet for 2nd?!

Mattgc August 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Roche lost 35 seconds to Tony Martin and 30 to Tom Dumoulin in last years Tour of Britain TT, 8th place on the stage. He ended up with 6th overall

RonDe August 30, 2017 at 1:09 am

Tour of Britain TTs are never long. That ITT was 15kms and Roche lost 36 seconds to Tony Martin, 33 to Rohan Dennis. But this Vuelta ITT is 40.2kms putting it into specialist territory. He raced the worlds ITT for Ireland which was also 40kms and lost 3.17 to Tony Martin and 2.32 to Kiryienka who was 2nd. I’d say at best he could expect to match Nibali but he’d need to be having his best day. And that might easily be 1.40 – 2.00 behind Froome.

Coffee & TV August 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Attention RCS Sport: Help us complete the Grand Tour corporate trifecta by including a 3-lap circuit of the lobby at Banca Mediolanum HQ in next year’s Giro. That should make for some interesting racing…

Ferdi August 29, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Contador, who became famous battling with a chicken, and even more famous over a piece of beef, could go for the trifecta of associating his name with pork.

RonDe August 30, 2017 at 1:11 am

Let’s hope he’s not a lamb to the slaughter! Ba doom tisch!

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