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Monday Shorts

The Vuelta’s started with a bang and we’re back to “tapas cycling” where there’s often a tasty morsel every day. It’s the most unpredictable of grand tours and this year’s route should spice things up a touch more as in recent years they’ve often ridden straight to the foot of the day’s summit finish, this time there’s more climbing in advance of the final climb. And yes the Vuelta has an official beer this year.

One team not raising a glass last night, unless to drown sorrows, was Ineos which had a rough day yesterday with GC hopes Wout Poels and Tao Geoghegan Hart losing over nine minutes. Presumably they will now look to make amends by stage hunting.

L’Equipe writes (€) that the late switch of Kenny Elissonde wasn’t down to the Spanish media berating Ineos for not picking Spanish rider, but because David de la Cruz is out of contract. Movistar won’t sign him and so he needs a ride to prove his use and so his agent Giuseppe Acquadro – who is also the agent for several others on the team – asked if his rider could start in order to prove his worth and so Elissonde got bumped. True or gossip? Until Ineos explain why it’s a good hypothesis.

There won’t be daily stage previews of the Vuelta here. After holidays which meant this blog has been a bit slow of late… now it’s time to pack up, move house and then there are works to do in the new place so the laptop won’t come out amid the cement and sawdust. Of all the blog posts, stage previews take by far the most time to type up with the route checking before (rule 1: bin the roadbook and ride the route for yourself, if you can’t then map it) and there won’t be enough time for it. This blog will stay fairly quiet from here into September.

Readers have asked about Jumbo-Visma’s recruitment of Tom Dumoulin and how the team will cope with so many top level riders. As the cliché goes “it’s a nice problem to have” as they’ve clear got motivated sponsors with flexible budgets, even if the reported budget is €20 million, still half that of Team Sky last year. It can help to have two leaders for each grand tour, it provides internal competition where riders know there’s no automatic right to start, say, the Tour de France, as leader. Also it’s back-up, whether against injury and illness before a big objective or during the race should one rider falter. Viewed from the outside – and the Vuelta result in Madrid might tilt things – it should be possible to persuade Primož Roglič to try and win the Giro after coming close this year, leaving July open for Tom Dumoulin. But all this depends on the routes as well which will be published in the autumn. There are two differences to Team Ineos trying to juggle multiple grand tour leaders, first is money because millions of Euros can buy loyalty, it’s not meant cynically, simply that riders may know it pays more to stay at Ineos than leave even to be a clear leader elsewhere. Second is Dylan Groenewegen, he’s not been as prolific this year but remains one of the sport’s top sprinters and will want to ride the Tour de France. The way around this is to bring versatile riders who can work in the leadout but also shepherd leaders in the crosswinds and along valley roads and the likes of Wout van Aert and Tony Martin come to mind.

One concern from Dumoulin’s move is breaking the contract. Everyone’s free to change jobs and here Dumoulin, Sunweb and Jumbo-Visma have all shaken hands so people are happy although you suspect Sunweb aren’t exactly beaming here. But put aside the specifics, and in abstract and principle there’s an asymmetry here where if a rider signs a long term deal and starts to feel they’re worth more than their current deal then it won’t take long to see rival teams make enquiries; if they’re struggling then they’ll enjoy the rest of the contract. The simplest way to mitigate against this is not to offer long contracts. Offering long term contracts in the hope a team does come along and “tap up” the rider is Gianni Savio’s model for the Androni team where he signs riders on long term deals – like Egan Bernal – with the hope someone will come and buy them – like Sky paying €300,000 to buy out Bernal. The latest move by Savio sees him signing Alexander Cepeda, winner of final stage of the Tour de l’Avenir.

One rider without a contract so far is Sam Bennett. Long touted to be heading to Deceuninck-Quickstep, he told cyclingnews.com he hasn’t signed yet. Normally his market value ought to be going up as he keeps winning – perhaps today in the Vuelta too – but it’s getting late in the season to land somewhere. Still other teams as well should be interested, especially as he’s not a pretentious rider asking for a big train either, he can often win by himself.

The Katusha team have until mid-September to find a future reports Het Nieuwsblad. But a reminder that teams have to tell their riders in writing by the end of September at the very latest if they’re not going to propose a new contract and generally by then it’s too late anyway. If the jobs market is a game of musical chairs then by mid-September the game is almost up.

Talking of time up, the Tour du Limousin was on TV for the second year running and possibly the last. The race paid for TV coverage but regional government has pulled the plug on the funding leaving the race to crowdfund cash for next year and for all the talk of livestreaming and phones, this type of production makes for a poor viewing experience that only hardcore fans support… and that’s before a race heads into rural zones with barely a signal, let alone 4G coverage. Europe has plenty of “Tour of [Region]” races and several have vanished off the calendar completely, particularly in Spain and Italy. A2gr La Mondiale’s Benoît Cosnefroy was a convincing winner.

Third in Limousin, and 12th in the Tour de France, Guillaume Martin’s going from Wanty-Gobert to Cofidis. Cofidis boss Cedric Vasseur has big ambitions saying Martin could crack the top-5 in the Tour. A fertile imagination? Presumably if Vasseur thinks Martin is this good then hopefully he’s paying him the going rate too.

Staying chez Cofidis Attilio Viviani won the Schaal Sels on Sunday and so is one of the rare stagiaires to win a race and rare triumph for Cofidis. He’s obviously signed because his brother Elia is joining the team next year too but this is no bro deal, he should be a useful addition to the team.

One novelty for stagiaires this year is the compulsory salary, they must be paid the UCI minimum wage on a pro rata basis for their time with the team. Why not just sign them? Because all neo-pros have to get a two year contract, this method still allows a rider and team to work on a trial basis. Still this isn’t needed as much these days. Now teams have development squads, bring riders to their training camps and know a lot more about a rider when they hire them compared to a decade or more ago.

Is Nairo Quintana moving teams? Yes, surely? Only the latest is that Arkea-Samsic team boss Emmanuel Hubert presented his new plan to the board of Arkéa for approval and there’s no news since which is a slight concern given this story has leaked since the start. Arkéa is an umbrella brand for mutually-owned banks in France’s Brittany region and all part of the Crédit Mutuel group which partly owns Cofidis too. It’s probably a formality and perhaps for politeness they’ll wait until the Vuelta ends or a rest day before making it official.

Finally one thing forgotten from the Tour de France wrap-up was to mention Patrick Chassé’s odyssey. A journalist, here working with Europe 1 radio – he covered the Tour via bike and public transport to see if it was possible do a “zero carbon” Tour. It was and the aim wasn’t to ride much at all, often just enough to get to the nearest railway station or bus stop, very much the ordinary commuter rather than a sports cyclist racking up the distance. Despite some long journeys and sketchy connections it worked, he proved a lively host for the evening “Club Tour”. One interesting thing from his account is that the Tour de France flies riders to Paris for the last stage these days because France’s railway company, the SNCF, won’t put on a train in case there’s a strike and the bad image this would send around the world.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Larry T Monday, 26 August 2019, 12:18 pm

    “Life” gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it? I’m kind of in the same boat, shutting down Piedmont Cycling Resort for the season this week and “moving house” as you call it, back down to Sicily. But we have to rent a place until October when we (I hope) can take over the house we bought there.
    Perhaps you can post a Vuelta headline for each day’s stage and let the commenters provide their (our) own entertainment and see what happens? No matter what you decide, I doubt the loyal readers will stray far away for long. 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:46 pm

      Thanks, the move should be the easy bit, it’s all the stuff around it that’s hard work. Not sure about a daily forum, would still need an eye on things and won’t be easy. There won’t be daily previews here but if interesting things happen and there’s news to discuss it should still feature… hopefully.

      • Ecky Thump Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 10:27 pm

        All the best Inner Ring.
        Move on up, and keep on wishing,
        Remember your dream is your only scheme
        So keep on pushing.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11:45 pm

        Thanks? Larry didn’t wish you good luck or anything, he just talked about his favourite subject 🙂

        Sawdust and cement and stuff sounds like work on top of all the other stress. I’m looking forward to seeing you back online, hopefully before Worlds, with all that successfully behind you. So good luck!

  • Andy W Monday, 26 August 2019, 12:38 pm

    Skineos have so much money, such trouble trying to juggle multiple leaders…and yet they go to the Vuelta with Poels (who you yourself said in your preview a couple of days ago looked good for in the Vuelta for Vaconsoleil – but that was 2011 ?) and Geoghan-Hart

    Is this the BC track team logic of sending newer riders to Track World Cup events for the experience (Hart, plus Doull in his first GT)

    But then of course they won the Tour with Bernal (and Thomas) so can contrast to the ‘last chance saloon’ situation for some other teams and riders who’ve underachieved/been injured/etc in the Tour & Giro

    • not yoda Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:37 pm

      Ineos is, at least with EF, in my opinion team with the most savvy PR machine.
      I am just doing this by feel, but Le Tour is the most important race for PR exposure.
      Having done that, they have also felt that winning all Grand Tours last year does not bring much positive sentiment. Considering their budget it is even counter to the goal of positive inspirational PR.

      Interestingly, this year they have the World Championship coming up in (one of) the ‘heartlands’ of their benefactor company. With a unique position for Geraint Thomas to challenge for the TT win.
      Therefore they let G to target ITT World Champs while the Vuelta team go with a goal of participation and experience.

      • Larry T Monday, 26 August 2019, 3:53 pm

        “Ineos is, at least with EF, in my opinion team with the most savvy PR machine.” reminded me of a the PR wizardry of a certain head-of-state: he delights his fans while making the rest of the world hate him. But OTOH, Dave B. might be a genius (like that head-of-state) since he DID convince the fracking king to bankroll his team when SKY bailed out!
        None of this explains the team’s floundering at the Vuelta…but I don’t think they really care about any race other than LeTour, despite their obligations under the WT rules. Just one more reason to get rid of “Heinie’s Folly” so they could stay home and a team interested in the event could take their place. This is only going to get worse starting next season.

    • omegaman Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:54 pm

      Its a strange business. We know, because its been said over and over, that Ineos have a goal of winning all 3 grand tours in the same year. But this is the second year in a row where they have sent a well under strength team to La Vuelta containing no one who is a genuine GC contender. (And, yes, Poels is not.) Why, for example, is Geraint Thomas not doing the Vuelta? Has he won so much, and does he have so much of a career left, that he can pass up contending for grand tours now? does he prefer the Tour of Britain – at which I expect to see him appear? One can understand why Bernal is not there. Froome, obviously out through injury, didn’t do the Vuelta either when he won his (so we then thought) first grand tour back in 2013 either. Yet Ineos have also decided that Sivakov and Sosa, who have both won stages races this month, shouldn’t be in Spain either. Its all a bit stage went Sky before them and Ineos now were never the most natural of stage hunting teams since their focus is normally on the big prize instead. I suppose we must categorise it in the “nice problems to have” section but it all seems baffling from the outside looking in.

      • JT Monday, 26 August 2019, 4:59 pm

        For Sosa and Sivakov I can only presume that they are young and have already done one GT this year. Best to preserve them.
        It is weird with Ineos though, they have not had a strong team at any of the grand tours this year.

        • not yoda Monday, 26 August 2019, 5:52 pm

          This here is exactly why main and only goal of Team INEOS sponsorhip is to win Britain’s hearts and minds.
          They have shale/fracking licenses in Yorkshire to exploit. Would not immediately win over the residents directly affected, but signals benevolence to the minds of the general public to accept them.
          https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/11/yorkshire-village-petrochemical-ineos-fracking

          • BC Monday, 26 August 2019, 7:18 pm

            Not strictly true. When the new 50 million + development by INEOS of a new ‘Land Rover’ type vehicle comes on stream in the near future, there will be another sound reason for INEOS to be involved in sponsorship.

            INEOS are much more than just a a fracking company.

          • Pilgrim Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 11:49 am

            There seems to be a lot in the comments above of “here’s my opinion, now i’ll make the facts fit it”.

            Jim Ratcliffe has also just bought Ligue 1 soccer team OGC Nice. If they’re doing that for UK PR reasons then they must be a helluva lot cleverer than I think they are.

            For all the hype around INEOS/Team Sky, for all the “yes but they can pay racers who’d be leaders elsewhere”, do the facts really back that up?

            In terms of grand tour racing, if you take Thomas, Froome, Bernal as your three undisputed leaders who else would be the undisputed leader elsewhere?

            Kwiatkowski? Unlikely but he would definitely be a deluxe protected rider elsewhere.

            Poels? Well let’s see if the Bahrain rumours are true but would he be the absolutely No. 1 there?

            Sivakov/TGH/Sosa? No, they are projects and they might be projects with much higher levels of assured success (and therefore paid higher because of it) but they wouldn’t be Number 1 at any of the other teams which put the Giro, Tour and Vuelta on the top rank list of targets at the start of the year.

      • JEB Monday, 26 August 2019, 7:59 pm

        One conclusion could be that Thomas is targeting the Giro next year and 3 Grand Tours in a row would be detrimental to his performance. Bernal already had his training cycle focused around the Giro – tour (even if the tour was only meant to be in support of Froome) he needs a break from high volume, besides, he’s a bit a bit young for two in a row- all out GT challenges.
        My guess is Thomas, Bernal aim for Giro – Tour next year and Froome for Tour Vuelta. Then things can be shuffled to Giro -Tour, Tour Vuelta or just Vuelta in the event of unforseen circumstances.

        • noel Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 1:08 pm

          Thomas would be targeting the Worlds in Yorkshire would be my guess – unlikely to go a GT just to ride around for 2 weeks and drop out, when he can get some quality Teide-time and a bit of sharpening at week long races… ?

    • Tim Mitchell Monday, 26 August 2019, 5:49 pm

      It is a funny old sport. From my perspective, here in the UK, Sky/Ineos have been really successful and have made a name among people who historically have had no interest in cycling but haven’t taken across historical fans. I agree EF do a good job.

      It is funny that DQS probably had the best Your in terms of publicity. Good job I need some new with windows

  • Lanterne_Verte Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:01 pm

    Good luck with the house move, I hope it all goes well and the new place is a success.
    One other thing that maybe was forgotten post TDF was part 3 of the 1989 Tour series….I really enjoyed parts 1 & 2 so would love to read your thoughst on the conclusion…but no worries at all if you don’t have time, this is still the best cycling blog there is, many thanks as ever for doing it.

  • not yoda Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:42 pm

    On the De la Cruz part, many rumors circulate about contractual obligations being the element making him ride the Tour. Until the Vuelta De La Cruz had 37 days of competition, only interrupted 3 weeks by a hand fracture suffered in a crash at California. Ellisonde has ridden 57 already.
    Last year De La Cruz rode 81 competition days including the Giro.
    Either a minimal number of competition days or a Grand Tour per season written in his contract maybe plausible?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:44 pm

      It’d be an odd clause and if it existed, surely wouldn’t explain the late switch?

      • DaveRides Monday, 26 August 2019, 2:44 pm

        The UCI regulations provide that a team can’t prevent a rider from racing for a period of six weeks (provided there are actually races on in the period) despite them requesting to race, and the AIGCP-CPA Joint Agreement provides that a rider must have a minimum of 30 racing days per year. DLC’s program this year has easily met both of those requirements.

        I wouldn’t think it at all odd for rider contracts to include more specific terms regarding race programs, but I agree that it shouldn’t explain a last minute switch like this.

        My guess is that the reason for the change was that something caused them to remove Elissonde, not them finding a way to bring in DLC.

      • RQS Monday, 26 August 2019, 8:15 pm

        The cynic in me says his blood values were not right and they didn’t want to risk a positive.

        I’m surprised that Ineos’s failure yesterday is not at least a feature article in the cycling media outlets, but I can hardly see anything which talks about it. This is relatively big news and yet it’s as if Caja Rurale’s GC hope had failed I.e. no news at all.

    • not yoda Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:47 pm

      Additionally El Pais report that Unzue is signing riders not represented by Acquadro and more towards spanish riders. De la Cruz might just miss the boat since he is Spanish but not favored due to his agent.

      https://elpais.com/deportes/2019/08/24/actualidad/1566674751_856479.html

  • Niobe Monday, 26 August 2019, 1:43 pm

    Good luck with house move. I hope it all goes as smoothly as possible, and that you enjoy the new place.

    Thank you so much for all the coverage, exemplary for both detail and style.. À bientôt .

  • Anonymous Monday, 26 August 2019, 2:06 pm

    Somebody should tell SNCF that that ship has already sailed.

    • DaveRides Monday, 26 August 2019, 2:52 pm

      That the ship has sailed is exactly why they stepped out of being involved with the Tour de France.

      They can’t stop rail strikes, but they can avoid the potential for major embarrassment being caused by such strikes affecting the Tour.

      • ronytominger Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 1:10 am

        its a shame in because they have some of the fastest rail-links in the world. (at least if youre at a tgv station)

  • Amy T Monday, 26 August 2019, 3:09 pm

    I haven’t commented in a while so just wanted to say thanks. All the time you put into this blog is very much appreciated – always the most insightful commentary around. Good luck with the move and the DIY, no jealousy here on that front!

  • md Monday, 26 August 2019, 9:10 pm

    Thanks for the blog. Good luck in your new home.

  • plurien Monday, 26 August 2019, 9:49 pm

    Amazing to see riders run out of gears on the rampas of that loop around Calpe. Surely the teams have at least one person who’s done a training camp there who would know this was a day for a little Inner Ring? – They must be missing your stage previews! As soon as you see Calpe – Benissa – Calpe on a finish loop you ought to know there will be rampas.
    Happy moving day. And remember to leave your laptop out till the last minute when you pack the cups ready for that all important first drink at the new place!
    And now you’ve got a new address, what about some merchandise?

    • Larry T Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 3:32 pm

      I wondered the same thing watching them traverse and grunt their way up this “wall”. Didn’t know or didn’t care? Very strange, especially in this age of the twiddly gears made (in)famous by the likes of Froome.
      I remember this happening decades ago when the Giro route was rerouted over the Fedaia due to snow slides on the San Pellegrino…but the announcement came during the stage so the riders were stuck with the gears they’d chosen…and more than a few were seen WALKING on the TV coverage.
      It was by far the toughest climb I’d ever done (we were riding ahead of the race) but we also had no choice, our vehicles had been left near the top of the Passo Pordoi so one way or another we had to get up there – before the racers!!! Luckily, I had gears low enough to get up there and have something left for the Pordoi.

  • Andrew Monday, 26 August 2019, 10:18 pm

    NOOOOOOOOO!
    You can’t leave us alone with just those other cycling sites for company! Think of the children.
    (could we please get part 3 of the 1989 Tour? please?)

  • AK Monday, 26 August 2019, 11:13 pm

    Good luck with the move! I am missing the recaps and previews already, they are part of my morning routine anytime a GT is on. There are other sites that provide the info but nobody matches the style. See you in September!

  • George Vest Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 8:42 am

    Small point, but ‘mitigate against’ in the para under the Bernal photo should be ‘militate against’.

    I thought that Thomas wasn’t doing the Vuelta because he was preparing for a serious crack at the Worlds ITT?

    • Charles Monday, 2 September 2019, 11:59 pm

      Huh? Mitigate seems correct to me. Miligate isn’t even a word

      • Charles Tuesday, 3 September 2019, 12:00 am

        Ack. Autocorrect. Militate isn’t a word as far as I know but I could be wrong

        • DaveRides Tuesday, 3 September 2019, 4:52 am

          Militate is a word, it means ‘to prevent’ or ‘aid in preventing’

          I agree with George, that would have been the right fit for the context.

  • KevinR Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 10:09 am

    Good luck with the move INRNG. Hope it all goes smoothly. Selfishly, I’m disappointed that there won’t be any daily Vuelta updates here – or much for some time – but I fully understand why, having moved myself recently.

  • Neil Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 5:33 pm

    All the best for the house move and thanks as ever for the great blog, wonderfully unencumbered by click bait and choc full of content. Take all the time you need!

  • Steve Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 5:35 pm

    Let me echo the best wishes on the move – and my disappointment on the lack of Vuelta updates. I came here looking for some commentary/insight on Quintana’s unexpected win on Stage 2 from a breakaway on a flat finish – and was quite surprised by his ability to power away from his companions with 3K to go – and then hold on to win.

    • Larry T Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 12:31 pm

      I watched the Eurosport coverage. Pretty much Bike Racing 101, no? Racer sees/senses a hesitation in the group, jumps away when they least expect it and while the others go through the “You first!” “No, pardon me, but YOU first!” he gets a gap large enough to hold on for the stage win. As they say, it’s not rocket surgery 🙂 I’m looking forward to today (Stage 5) for a hint as to who might have the climbing legs this year. Vamos Colombianos!!!

  • nortonpdj Tuesday, 27 August 2019, 10:59 pm

    I’m an avid and loyal reader but an infrequent comment writer. But I would like to add my sincere thanks to those already expressed, and add my good wishes for your move to those of other contributors.

  • Larry T Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 7:37 pm

    Here’s a question – can someone (anyone) explain what Valverde was doing today during the finale of Stage 5? Way too far behind for a stage win, but attacks and leaves Quintana behind, then doesn’t do much as Lopez rides away to gain time on all of the others? Is HE trying to win La Vuelta 2019?

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11:51 pm

      Valverde is Mister Movistar and Quintana has said he’s going to another team next year. Pretty much Bike Racing 101, no?

    • DaveRides Thursday, 29 August 2019, 7:39 am

      My theory for some time now has been that a number of other teams know the radio frequency that Movistar use and like to play games 😉

      • Larry T Thursday, 29 August 2019, 8:22 am

        Seems to me the talk of The Green Bullet being there just for stage wins was BS. Not only did he help himself with this move (though with ZERO chance to win the stage) he also helped the guy who is perhaps Quintana’s biggest rival. His post-race claims that he thought The Condor was on his wheel are also BS. Valverde 2019 is a second-rate version of Hinault 1986.

        • Anonymous Thursday, 29 August 2019, 3:54 pm

          I’m so tired of all this poor Nairo, he could win if only his team wouldn’t race against him talk. He proofs every race that he doesn’t have it, he has no consistency, and his team know that. He regularly gets dropped every other day in high mountains, and a stage 2 win doesn’t make him a contender for the overall win in 3 weeks.

          • CA Friday, 30 August 2019, 1:14 am

            Exactly! I honestly thought he’d win 7 Tours, but now that he’s in his prime, his form has never hit the peaks he was supposed to. He can’t recover so he keeps losing time every other day, every single grand tour.

            But, it looked awesome seeing him win on Stage 2 – every time he does that you instantly think he’ll win the GC battle at the end of the race. But then your soul always gets crushed because he’ll lose time to anyone… honestly if he had the legs he should have followed the 5 riders who jumped on Valverde’s wheel – it wouldn’t have been an issue and would have helped them tactically.

        • DaveRides Thursday, 29 August 2019, 4:02 pm

          Anyone who takes “I’m only here for stage wins” at face value deserves to get beaten. I think that one is the next lesson in Cycling 101 after the bit about not chasing an attack.

          How to navigate the internal rivalries within Movistar is certainly not Cycling 101 material!

          • Larry T Friday, 30 August 2019, 8:26 am

            Good point! Did the “I’m just here for stage wins.” come out of The Green Bullet’s mouth or the Movistar director’s? Is this whole saga a Spanish version of “Slaying the Badger”?
            I’m wondering if there’s a divide between the Spaniards and the Latin-Americans on this team sort of like the Anglos vs the French at La Vie Claire back-in-the-day?

          • DaveRides Friday, 30 August 2019, 10:13 am

            Here are some quotes from a couple of the Movistar sporting directors referred to in a CyclingNews article before the race.

            From Luis Arrieta:
            “The Vuelta is the race he likes the most, and if he gets results, great,” Movistar directeur sportif José Luis Arrieta told Marca. “For Alejandro, what we would like is that he has a good time on the bike, especially this year with the [rainbow] jersey.”
            “It will be difficult for us to disconnect him from the general classification,” said Arrieta. “At the Tour that was the idea, and at the end due to circumstances and because of his quality, he took a top ten.
            “The stages will come on days when you arrive with a group of favourites. He doesn’t have pressure to race to the stage final and that’s that.”
            “If it’s the case [that he can race to the stage finish], then he can go ahead,” he said. “At other times he can support and that wouldn’t be bad either. But Nairo and Carapaz are also working for the overall, so he will be more relaxed.”

            From Pablo Lastras:
            “Alejandro’s objective will be to have a good time and win some stages, as he did in 2018,” he told Marca. “The way he is, he will have a great Vuelta.”

            CyclingNews doesn’t send reporters to races, so they don’t have the ability to ask the follow-up questions and can only go on quotes in other publications.

            My read on the situation previously is that any divide is a bit more complicated than Spaniards vs South Americans. I view it more that having Valverde there means there’s no point having another rider as the leader because that will just divide the team into a Valverde faction and the other leader’s faction. A more appropriate comparison than La View Claire would probably be to say he’s a Spanish version of Tom Boonen – notice how the Deceuninck riders now work for each other when they used to race against each other when Boonen was on the team, most famously in that race when they had a 3-on-1 advantage and still lost to Ian Stannard.

          • Larry T Friday, 30 August 2019, 11:32 am

            Interesting take, but it implies that BOONEN regularly raced against members of his own team, something I’m not sure I buy.
            OTOH, as you noted, the “I’m here just to win stages” does NOT seem to have come out of the mouth of Don Alejandro himself, so perhaps he’s not as treacherous as The Badger.

          • Larry T Friday, 30 August 2019, 3:40 pm
          • DaveRides Monday, 2 September 2019, 1:30 am

            It seems nothing is settled, Quintana is now taking the race lead into the first rest day!

  • Paul Thursday, 29 August 2019, 11:00 am

    Ah I wondered why! Good luck and congrats on your new home

  • Steve Monday, 2 September 2019, 2:07 am

    Wow, Stage 9 was pretty spectacular! I’m still trying to understand how it all worked out. Midway up the final climb, Soler is up the road, solo, apparently trying to go for the stage win, Quintana attacks from the favorites’ group (followed by Pogacar) and, as they are bridging up to Soler, he appears to be told to wait for Quintana – possibly costing him the stage win – and as Quintana and Pogacar close on Soler, Pogacar suddenly sprints away from both, and Soler and Quintana are unable to bridge the gap, and with ~1500 m to go, Soler appears to stop riding and leaves Quintana to chase alone – and does not try to go get the 3rd place bonus seconds.

    Meanwhile, further down the mountain, as Roglic is closing in on the remaining favorites’ group after crashing, Valverde attacks and, unable to get away, creates a target for Roglic to pursue to the finish line, where they cross in the same time, though Roglic takes 3rd place and the bonus seconds.

    It’s easy to second-guess from the couch in the living room but it sure seems like Movistar could have managed that situation better. There’s a saying in American football that you don’t take points off the board – and, since Soler was solo up the road, it seems like they could have gone for the stage win first and then sorted out their GC ambitions if/when Roglic closed the gap…

    I wonder what’s going to happen next…

    • cp Monday, 2 September 2019, 5:00 am

      roglic crushes quintana and lopez and valverde to a degree in the itt but then falters in the mountains again; lopez bounces back after his crash today; quintana has an inevitable off day when his rivals don’t crash; valverde holds on for a while and we have four contenders into stage 20. i hope! but in the end pogacar wins by a few seconds after being an afterthought because he is powered by pure cevapcici.

      ridiculous that roglic fell because of a motorbike today.
      what a kooky conclusion to the day with his and lopez’s falls and the hail.

    • Larry T Monday, 2 September 2019, 8:29 am

      Really? Stage wins are for teams who have no GC ambitions IMHO, but it appears to be every-man-for-himself at Movistar at this race. I thought the Green Bullet’s actions on the day were OK for a change, but it seems Quintana’s pretty much on his own – if he pulls off the win here it’l be DESPITE the team rather than thanks to them.
      Back-in-the-day they had video recording capabilities on the TV motos so it could at least be seen later if the TV live transmission went out – wonder if we’ll ever see what happened?

    • Richard S Monday, 2 September 2019, 10:52 am

      The whole Movistar thing is very interesting. After they seemed to pull together pretty well at the Giro they seem to have ridden against each other at the Tour and the Vuelta. Larry has suggested there seems to be a Spain/South America split in the team but I would reduce it down to just a everyone versus Quintana split. Maybe he has expressed some pretty strong views on how things are done their which has caused a fallout leading to his exit. It is obvious that the genuine team leader, above Carapaz, Landa, Quintana and whoever else, is Valverde and he has carte blanche to do as he pleases. I’ve lost count now of the amount of times he has attacked or dragged riders up to his own team mates at the Tour and here. Soler’s tantrum at being told to wait up was quite something by the standards of the very strict leader/domestique code of the peloton. If Movistar weren’t shedding GC leaders and Valverde wasn’t in the December of his career he might have found himself in big trouble. As it is they’re probably desperate to keep him.

      • SLO_cyclist Monday, 2 September 2019, 3:22 pm

        I think this has more to do with lack of trust in Quintana. He was a team leader so many times in the past years and disappointed everyone eventually that noone believes he can actually fight for the overall win. Honestly, he probably really can’t, not even in this Vuelta, if Roglic stays fit and healthy. Then you are left with 2 Movistar riders which can fight for the podium. In order not to risk to stay without both, let both riders do their best and you have double the podium chance. Moreover, I completely see Valverde gaining time on Quintana tomorrow.

        • Larry T Monday, 2 September 2019, 6:22 pm

          I guess you discount Quintana’s Giro 2014 and Vuelta 2016 vs Valverde’s Vuelta a decade ago? Other than he’s leaving the team (and who can blame him?) I find it hard to believe this lack of support is purely based on past results.

          • DaveRides Monday, 2 September 2019, 7:40 pm

            Since that Vuelta win, Quintana’s GC results have been:
            2017 Giro: 2
            2017 Tour: 12
            2018 Tour: 10
            2018 Vuelta: 8
            2019 Tour: 8

            Hardly inspiring stuff, and you can’t blame Movistar for lacking the confidence in him to commit to a full effort.

            Traditionally, a team wanting to hedge their bets would pick a secondary leader who can target stage wins without needing a huge amount of support (someone like Van Avermaet, Matthews, Colbrelli, or an ITT specialist) and who would also support the GC rider on other stages.

            The problem that Movistar have is that when they hedge their bets they are picking two (or more) GC riders, which only works if you have the firepower to boss the peloton and keep both riders at the front until a clear leader emerges. Movistar don’t have the ability to boss the peloton, and so their guys are racing against each other rather than providing mutual support.

          • Richard S Tuesday, 3 September 2019, 8:11 am

            It’s a good point that Movistar are an extremely one dimensional team in the type of riders they employ. I appreciate they have their markets but maybe they could branch out into at least a couple of Northern Europeans or North American’s to give themselves other options.

          • Larry T Monday, 2 September 2019, 9:29 pm

            You left out the rest of The Green Bullet’s GT victories….oh wait…there aren’t any.
            I don’t understand Movistar’s tactics or strategy any more than you do, but it’s just too tempting to wonder about a Latin American vs Spanish polemic….it seems to me that Landa was the leader back at the Giro but was sort of ambushed by Carapaz.
            Nobody at the team is gonna dis the guy (even if he leaves for another team) who wins the race for them…and if Quintana pulls this one off it’ll be the same thing. But in both cases the Latin Americans are leaving with their places taken by various Spaniards, Italians and a couple of low-level Latin-Americans who’ll be used and tossed no doubt.

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