Vuelta a España Stage 16 Preview

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

A stage that is the antithesis of the Vuelta itself, a 32km time trial to the “Oscar Freire Sports Complex”, named in tribute to the three time world champion who is from the finish town. He’ll probably pop up later today when people least expect it.

Vintage Pinot: a stage win for Thibaut Pinot. He’d come for a stage win and having lost time in the crosswinds of the opening week was able to get away, he attacked after a flurry of moves from others and it wasn’t a priority to close him down. Still this wasn’t a soft, tactical win as by the time he went there were only a few riders left in contention and he climbed faster than them all. The road to the Lagos de Covadonga provided the biggest “reveal” of the race so far with the likes of Rigoberto Uran and Wilco Kelderman falling away. Their GC bids are not over but like Pinot they’re rather compromised and may prefer to seek stage wins. Simon Yates is in red and looks strong, we’ll learn more today but as those who watched the Giro and also Paris-Nice will remember leading the race is not the same as winning it. Otherwise it’s close which adds to the importance of today, for all Miguel Angel Lopez’s punchy riding he could lose more than he gained today.

The Route: 32km and 590m of vertical gain (against 390m in the roadbook). There are rolling roads but nothing severe. The main climb of the day is that out of Novales, a 2.5km climb where the road twists up through woodland, including a kilometre at over 6%. It’s not too hard but it is where some can go into the red, overdo it here and you’ve got half the course left to regret it.

The Contenders: Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) is still in the Vuelta. While the likes of Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) have been in the breakaways Dennis has been near-invisible and if he wins today it’ll be worthwhile. Campenaerts could push him close and Kwiatkowski will appreciate the rolling course.

Nelson Oliveira could be the surprise today, Movistar’s Portuguese rider is a TT specialist and had a good opening stage. Team Sky collectively have been very quiet in this race but Jonathan Castroviejo is handy in time trials but has been under the radar so far. Richie Porte has the technical ability but the form looks off.

Among the GC contenders Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) is probably the most proficient but he’s 9th overall and not in convincing form. There’s a good chance Simon Yates can keep the race lead today although Alejandro Valverde could push him close, the Briton has been improving in the time trials.

Rohan Dennis
Nelson Oliveira, Victor Campenaerts, Michał Kwiatkowski
Ion Izaguirre, Kelderman, Castroviejo, Brändle

Weather: a mild day, 24°C.

Tune in: the last rider is due in for 5.40pm CEST.

Helmer September 11, 2018 at 7:09 am

Richie Port? Hè is still riding and might want to test the legs

DUNCAN September 11, 2018 at 12:33 pm

I don’t think this is a bad shout. Not to beat Dennis but for a decent TT and worth a chainring.
Will be very interesting to see how he goes.

RQS September 11, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Porte seems to be a master of disappointment. No chain rings.

Tomski September 11, 2018 at 7:31 am

Thanks Inrng. Although Kwiatkowski is expected to ride, I can’t see any mention of the injuries he suffered. Looked like he cracked a rib on Sunday so I can’t see him riding at 100%. Perhaps he’s looking to keep from ahead of Innsbruck?

Tomski September 11, 2018 at 7:32 am

Sorry, typo:

…keep *form ahead of Innsbruck…

The Inner Ring September 11, 2018 at 8:35 am

It doesn’t seem he’s injured. He could be sore, he should certainly be tired after all his efforts which is why I see Oliveira, Dennis and Campenaerts ahead.

Mad Black September 11, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Emanuel Buhmann or rigoberto uran?! Just putting it out there.

RQS September 11, 2018 at 7:41 am

Another typo: I think you mean compromised, not comprised when talking about Uran and Kelderman.

KevinR September 11, 2018 at 7:41 am

Unfortunately I think Valverde will take the red jersey today. He’s a cut above the other GC riders against the clock. Don’t think he’ll keep it u til Madrid though.

DAVE September 11, 2018 at 7:48 am

I hope he does. Spanish grandpa beats hopeful Briton kid. So much whining.

Ecky Thump September 11, 2018 at 8:39 am

If Valverde were to take the leader’s jersey, it would be interesting to note how that may affect Quintana, and indeed Movistar’s tactics from herein.
I had to pronounce myself disappointed in Quintana’s strategy on Lagos de Covadonga, he seemed to rely too heavily on his teammate.
Perhaps though it would free Quintana of doubts, though it’s not looking like he quite has the legs?

Very well done to Pinot also, a cracking ride and a lesson in fashion cool too – traditional lid and specs. Rid himself of the swarming insects 😃

Toby September 11, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Agreed on the Pinot style. Yates’ glasses and helmet combo look awful (and yes, I know it’s function over form, but still, others do it much better).

Larrick September 11, 2018 at 8:40 am

To be fair, when Valverde was whining about MTS, it was just mind games. I don’t think you should be over egging the amount of whining AV has done…

BenW September 11, 2018 at 10:23 am

It won’t be pretty. He’s basically the last of “that era”, served a ban and is still pulling up trees at 38 with no real sign of decline.

DUNCAN September 11, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Just to point out this new DAVE is not the old DAVE – which is I.

Feel free to use DAVE moniker but as I pointed out a few days ago, the argument with RonDe and whatever other bad words have been exchanged between this DAVE was not me and rather this new DAVE who has assumed my moniker.

Quite weird to write this but I just don’t want people who are regularly here to think I’ve sudden had a change of temperament.

BenW September 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for the clarification 🙂

RQS September 11, 2018 at 8:20 am

Any word on any ill effects from Kwiato’s crash on the last stage?

Also, is Sky’s lack lustre performance due to Froome’s negative analytical last year (and I don’t just mean his absence from the race)?

The Inner Ring September 11, 2018 at 8:37 am

One factor we know for sure is that Sky don’t have a leader to ride for, De la Cruz looked ok in the Vuelta a Burgos but nothing more, now he’s faring worse.

RQS September 11, 2018 at 9:09 am

I have been surprised by the disappearance of De La Cruz after leading the team out at sign on. Someone at Sky ought to declare him MIA. Perhaps U2 could re-release their song from the Joshua Tree album.

Rupert September 11, 2018 at 9:54 am

Anyone know why Wout Poels didn’t ride the Vuelta?

Cameron September 11, 2018 at 10:10 am

It had been his lifelong dream to ride the Tour of Britain.

Keith Warmington September 11, 2018 at 10:32 am

Good answer

Mattgc September 11, 2018 at 10:24 am

Possibly because he had already done the Giro and Tour this year

BenW September 11, 2018 at 10:25 am

I’m gonna go with “3 consecutive Super-Domestique Grand Tours so he’s cooked”.

Oracle September 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

I guess because it would be his 4th GT in a row. Too much to battle for GC in Spain as well.

BC September 11, 2018 at 8:30 am

RQS. Easy and short answer. Yes and No.

I see the endless abuse, nonsense and snowflake type stuff from the troll anon has made some of the regular contributors take flight. A great shame, as even if you didn’t agree with them all the time, they added to the conversation. I do hope given time they decide to return.

Richard S September 11, 2018 at 8:53 am

I volunteer to go Italy and try and find Gabriele!

RQS September 11, 2018 at 9:05 am

Off you go then. Head in the direction of ‘il bambino’. I’m sure he’s reading, but can’t type but for wet wipes and baby poo.

steveh September 11, 2018 at 9:07 am

You make an interesting point here.
I’ve been following the stage previews and it strikes me there are fewer comments than I’d expect for a Grand Tour, and as you say many of the usual contributors are missing.
Does that reflect less interest in la Vuelta than other races, or have people got tired of the sniping and gone elsewhere?
Today will be intriguing I think. The sense I get is that Yates has learned from il Giro and is racing differently, and he looks slightly more measured. He’s said he’s worked on his TT, but as our host points out there’s no-one in the top group who is strong enough at this to blow the others away.
It’s funny about what Movistar do or don’t do, and what we all say about that. As NQ said yesterday he didn’t have the strength to chase Lopez on Sunday, but we all assume he hesitated. Maybe he just couldn’t. It’s very easy for us armchair DSs to guess what he’s thinking, but the answer could simply be “ow, make it stop!” 😱
On balance I’d like to see Yates win, he’s exciting to watch and that’s why I follow this sport.

RQS September 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

The regulars are contributing. I think it’s more to do with the race. It’s bascially taken till the final week in the race for the big guns to show their hand. Some of this is the fact that it’s late in the season and the form of many cyclists is dropping off or plateauing.

But a good part has been a parcours which has made teams reluctant to race (or put their combined effort into establishing a result). The corollary of this is more breakaways and fewer GC selections. It’s been a long time since a “non-GC” rider has held the leaders jersey so late in a race like Herrada. As such the real race for winning the Vuelta has been played out in the shadows, and a race you cannot see is not one you can follow.

Maté’s hold on the mountains jersey is indicative of this too. A rider who has achieved one thing in the race, but has not been prominent in breakaways. What can people say about something which is so random. I wonder whether the Vuelta will learn something from this.

John Le G September 11, 2018 at 12:54 pm

RQS – love the idea of the “dark race”, like dark matter/energy, actually the main driver of it but completely invisible to the untrained!!

Wayne September 11, 2018 at 9:27 am

I would definitely agree there’s less interest in the Vuelta (and to a lesser extent the Giro too), which is one of the reasons why I prefer both of them to the Tour. The constant bitching on any cycling website during the Tour is really draining I find. Another possible factor is a lot of your hardcore Sky fans will probably be Brits so I imagine they were watching TOB last week instead. And with Froome riding that maybe all the trolls have been as well.

PaulG September 11, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Not just your Sky fans…but your Sky haters as well…..makes it refreshing….

PaulG September 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Not just your Sky fans…but your Sky haters as well……Refreshing not to have both frothing at the much on here….

Shearman September 11, 2018 at 12:17 pm

I do think this Vuelta has been somewhat of a slow-burner, which hopefully will make for a spectacular last week. I genuinely have no idea who will podium, let alone win.

There aren’t as many big names to the casual observer riding – Contador and Froome not here, Quintana not pushing on in recent years and others just below that top rung of Grand Tour fame – but perhaps we will look back in years to come as this being the start of something.

This year, there isn’t the long-term narrative that was there at the Tour, or the Giro – or even the Vuelta last year. And maybe that’s what we need right now.

EightyEight September 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

TBH this Vuelta has been pretty boring till late last week. In the first week even the riders didn’t seem interested. Problem is many may now have switched off (as I did for a while) and will miss the good ending.

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for calling me a snowflake and troll. I am not surprised by it. It is interesting, that people like to flag themselves and their opinion so openly with the use of certain words.

This is no closed „boys only club“ and as long as it isn‘t, I will say my piece and there is literally nothing you can do against it.

Charlie September 11, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Put your name on your post and we might know who you are otherwise who knows which ‘anonymous’ is which

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I had a username at the beginning, 2 or 3 years ago, but started to post anonymous as a reaction to the insane bullying going on some years ago here against people, who posted anonymous (totally nice things, nothing offensive) and who were called cowards, dishonest and so forth by certain readers, who even called in question the „manhood“ ( is that the right word?) of anonymous posters.

But you are right, I started these days to think about using again a username, as there is one other, aggressive anonymous poster (but I am pretty sure, that bc writes about me, per the use of the words „troll“ and snowflaking“. It doesn‘t bother me, when people write such stuff, I find it funny, that they out themselves so thoroughly and show their colors, which -to me- shine through their usual posts anyway, but I won‘t let it go unanswered).

Duncan September 11, 2018 at 2:17 pm

@BC

I think you may be right, the nature of discussion has discouraged me and perhaps others, though I am a regular reader but infrequent commenter.

It is one thing to have an opinion that differs from others, but quite another to combine the expressing of that opinion with abuse towards others. And to have the arrogance to claim it subsequently as some entitlement that will be continued … we can make a nicer world than this, it’s really not so hard.

Thanks to all the thoughtful commenters who respect other posters despite different views.

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 2:24 pm

As you might have noticed, I didn‘t start the abuse, it was bc. I was just answering – something anybody must be prepared for, if they talk/write about others. Sp shouldn‘t you calll out bc for abusing me?

Duncan September 11, 2018 at 2:34 pm

I have seen the nature of your posts in the recent past. It is the abuse in those posts to which I refer, and I would guess that goes for BC’s comment above also.

Please don’t resort to the childish “she started it”, “no he started it”. Mine is a general take over many large paragraphs during which you were rude and offensive, needlessly, to others.

I have learned to scroll past your long posts but it is not so discernible right away who you are in a short one as above. Please do as others have sensibly suggested and choose a name, so that we may choose to not read your posts. It is the least politeness of us to ask from one who posts with rather a viscious nature.

Once again, your opinion is not the issue for me, it’s your treatment of others.

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Ok. I think though, you got it wrong. If you carefully and with an open mind reread, what I wrote, you will – I think – see, that I never „start“ anything, but that I use exactly the way, the language the comments I answer to, use. So when a comment is disrespectful to all riders and insults them (remember, riders and their frinds, family etc, might read here too), then I answer him with the same force. When someone talks to me in a nomal way, I am normal back.

What people don‘t expect is, that they get called out on the same level. They think it is ok to use the words „troll“ and „snowflaking“, but feel then „abused“, if one reacts to that without being ashamed to be called „a troll“ and „snowflaking“. These words are used to silence others and then the users of these words feel abused, when their tactics don‘t work (I am conscious, that I called ronde a troll and am not very happy (I mean that, it weighs on me), that I had to, but after long consideration could find no other reason for his many, many disrespecting posts about Bardet, riders and people. And as his posts weren‘t answers, but his statements, I found no other reason for them than hating and insulting others. Just to explain, why I used the word troll once for him).

I really think you got it wrong about me, I really wish you would read my posts again impartially, but if not it is fine. I have no problem with discussing and debating things, including me, but I won‘t make a polite face – and let it pass unanswered – to those, who in truth don‘t want to discuss and feel in truth no respect. The difference can be easily felt in/behind the words. I only wish, you wouldn‘t have initially written „about“ me (@bc), but „to“ me. And yes, I feel as entitled as anybdy else to say what I have to say.

The Inner Ring September 11, 2018 at 2:57 pm

People arguing about each others comments is getting boring. If you can’t stick to talking about the actual race, could you politely please go and use someone else’s bandwidth for arguments?

DJW September 11, 2018 at 10:15 am

If Yates hopes to win the Vuelta putting substantial time into Quintana today would surely be progress. Assuming the Valverde can do a decent time, eliminating one of Movistar’s two prongs will surely make the tactical choices easier during the remaining days having simply to follow – or take time on – Valverde in the mountains, while not forgetting Lopez.

The Vuelta is a great GT with a theoretically strong, though unpredictable, climbing field.

Keith Warmington September 11, 2018 at 10:36 am

Valverde is an interesting case isnt he . Are there other recent examples of a rider aged 38 regularly dropping riders ten or more years younger and being in contention for a GT win?

Oracle September 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

Horner, Vuelta 2013. 41 years old.

RQS September 11, 2018 at 1:33 pm

**Horner

** = dodgy whereabouts submission following race

There’s definitely a cloud over this one.

Ralphbert September 11, 2018 at 10:48 am

Horner

keith warmington September 11, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Yes I was thinking of Horner too but that,s it surely

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm

I don‘t think you can compare the two.

Ok, it‘s obvious, that we get hung up on Valverde‘s age, but he was different even as a teenager from other riders, right from the start as a junior, when he won all there is to win (I think, I‘ve read, that parents tried to pay him to not start a race, so their children have a chance too, but can‘t find it right now).

And I think the head is a big thing. Many riders, who retire do so, because their head is ready to retire. They are wary of the travelling, missing the kids, the danger of crashes. But Valverde seems absolutely happy and much more in peace with himself than ever. I think this is a big part of his success. And he rides very clever, knows when to burn and when to save matches. It seems he also has learned how to juggle his races with his private life? He races less outside of Spain I think and only in big or targeted races. All these things come from experience and knowing yourself. When people get older, they not only lose strength, they also gain something. And while some younger riders train themselves into burning out, older foxes might know, that quality is sometimes more important than quantity. Plus he has job security – think about how much the pressure to „deliver“ must weigh on some and weakens them.

I won‘t be surprised, if he wins this Vuelta – but I think he isn’t strong enough to win it through his strength, he will only be able to win with the help of others, meaning, when they falter or fight each other and he profits from it.

Tomski September 12, 2018 at 5:47 am

Agreed, Valverde has looked pretty strong – especially so given he has the Tour in his legs too. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that whilst there has been some tough climbs, they haven’t been at particularly high altitude – normally a weakness for him. With Andorra to come, he may well drop away.

His past aside, I would love for someone of his talent to place well in a GT at his age if done cleanly.

Graham S September 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

Strong breaks escaping, just the favourites left halfway up final climbs….. this is why they cut the team sizes.

But I think it’s much more about the quality of riders rather than quantity, I’d say most teams have burnt out their super domestics at the Giro and Tour?

Tovarishch September 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm

I think it is more to do with the steepness of the final climbs rather than team size. There are very few domestiques that could cope with those gradients. It is also, possibly, why they are letting the breaks go, to hold onto the helpers for as long as possible.

Baz Little September 11, 2018 at 11:03 am

Loved this Vuelta, as I always do each year. Would liked to have watched every stage live but work gets in the way. The refreshing lack of an obvious favourite has added to the race, as I expected it would do. Shame about the moaners/abusers, nobody forces you to follow a race or indeed the sport! Online abuse on forums is really depressing and I have often thought of just not bothering at all with any cycling forums in the future. Now I have found some great Podcasts, that could well be my future.

Larry T September 11, 2018 at 3:45 pm

I’ve to often paid little attention to La Vuelta as too often it seemed a boring slog along desert-like four lane highways for too many stages. Perhaps because of my disappointment in the other two GT’s this season, I’m paying more attention to this edition. Combine that with (as you point out) the more wide-open situation with no obvious favorite and no single team domination and it’s been refreshing. I’d hoped Fabio Aru could redeem what’s stacking up to be a lost season, but no matter who wins in the end it’s been far more entertaining than I expected. What about Uran today? He’s surprised a few times in chrono stages in the past and this would seen a last chance to get back into real contention.

jc September 11, 2018 at 11:10 am

Not seen a lot of the race until the last couple of stages (holiday, work), though dont think I missed much. From what I have seen Simon Yates is riding a much more canny race than in the Giro. I realise today is likely to be fairly significant but he did seem to me to be both pacing his efforts and also have a certain psychological advantage over his rivals. I know he has denied it but I think he has grown as a rider since May.

Nairo Quintana continues to disappoint, he seems very risk adverse, waiting for the perfect moment to attack which never comes (or comes too late as in the Tour).

The obvious question today is how well Alejandro Valverde will go? Simon Yates exceeded expectations in the Giro TT, though perhaps the effort contributed to his problems in the succeeding stages. AV’s record in TTs is mixed, he has done well at times but other times not so well (last year’s Vuelta). This is probably his last chance at a GT victory will that inspire or hinder him?

EightyEight September 11, 2018 at 12:49 pm

From what I saw of Quintana he wasn’t waiting for the right moment to attack but getting Valverde to pull thinks back because he couldn’t attack. He lost 2 seconds to AV on the line yet AV had been doing most of the work.
Yates TTd well in the Giro but I think that wrecked him for the stages after that. I think it will be close between him and Valverde for red today, can’t see the others being close.

Graham S September 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Not sure if Yates has grown, I think he can just be a bit more conservative as there isn’t anybody breathing down his neck in the GC who can take minutes out of him in a time trial.

It wasn’t youthful exuberance in the Giro, it was the plan.

paul September 11, 2018 at 11:21 am

Valverde to take Red today but only borrow it, cant see anyone beating Yates

StevhanTI September 11, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Going by his results this year Yates is rather expected to lose it, it’ll all boil down to a big Andorra show-down I think. Until then it will remain a closed race. Based on past results and on how the race has been going so far I’m still thinking Lopéz has the edge but it’s really a very thin one.
Then again, Uran and Kelderman weren’t really expected to lose as much as they did over the past weekend, De La Cruz was already faltering before that it suggests others may be at breaking point too but it is impossible to gauge from the outside. Even a good result in today’s 45 minute effort may still mask a declining form (Yates did a decent TT in the Giro didn’t he?)

EightyEight September 11, 2018 at 12:51 pm

It’s always hard to tell depending on when riders aim for peak form but a similar TT in the Giro saw Lopez lose more than a minute to Yates.

Charlie September 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm

I’m slightly disappointed in Quintana again , I really thought he might win this but he looks to be slightly below the level of both Yates and Lopez in the mountains . Movistar seem to have 2 of the 4 strongest riders but could end up with only a 3rd place

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm

I was thinking, if Quintana is/was ill? He seems to be blocked in the high end performance (I say this without any medical expertise, I have to admit), I just observed, that he seems to be lacking the ability to go in the red since 2 years. Maybe, because he is in the red all the times (don‘t think so, as Movistar know his numbers and wouldn‘t say „he is able to win the race, when they would be worse per se) or because he lacks the oxygen or something else to give that little extra, which hurts the body and in truth isn‘t very healthy.

It is difficult for a neutral observer like me, to see him be with the best all the time, in every single stage and yet see so much criticism levelled at him. Of course we would have expected more from him after winning the giro and the Vuelta, but if he can‘t do more, what do we want? Should he dope to fulfill our expectations?

Cd September 11, 2018 at 9:13 pm

I feel he needs to be checked for Epstein Barr or toxoplasmosis or even blizaria.

Canocola September 11, 2018 at 2:22 pm

“He’ll probably pop up later today when people least expect it”

Well played, Herr Ring, well played.

Johnny September 11, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Can’t warm to NQ. Maybe it’s his lack of facial expressions or the language barrier. In any case he doesn’t like he has it in this race.
As for AV… he’s probably not done anything different to any other professional athlete, and obviously loves the racing and is interesting to watch. But would be a little sad if he won. Don’t think he will though.
Between SY and Superman for me.

Anonymous September 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I wish Lopez would win. That would be awesome. The way he fought back from so many bad crashes etc, he deserves to win big. For some time it seemed, that every time he recovered from something, the next bad thing happened.

I still remember the way he rode a massive stage alone at one point for the overall win ( tour de suisse 2016, I think?), where not many thought he could prevail and win the race. That he won and the way he did it, was the moment he became one of the riders I watch.

JT September 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Lopez is the one I am struggling to get behind ! His TDS win was brilliant but at the Giro this year he didn’t do anything but sneaked on the podium and on Saturday, he seemed to once again be the strongest but refused to commit ! It would be nice to see him actually go for it !
I would love to see the coathanger or Quintana win.

Augie March September 11, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Looks like Valverde didn’t live up to most commentators here’s expectations.

Larry T September 11, 2018 at 10:27 pm

What is up with that gawdawful helmet-like thing on Simon Yate’s head? Looks like some sort of mutant turtle!!! I don’t think one could design something more ugly if they tried. Is this thing a product for sale?

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