The Spin: Vuelta Stage 17

A summit finish? Yes but the final climb shouldn’t be a showdown for the overall contenders. Instead the gradual slope to the finish line is ideal for a breakaway to contest the finish.

The Route: the race heads west across the Cantabria region but avoids the mountains. The first half of the stage is ideal for a breakaway to get away whilst the bunch takes it easy. The second half sees all the action with the sprint, the feedzone and then the first climb, the Collado de Ozalba, 5.9km at 6.6% meaning it’s not hard. The Collado La Hoz is 5.7km but 7.6%, the 1% extra gradient makes a noticeable difference.

The Finish: the long ramp on the profile is over 17km long but just under 4% meaning it’s not for the climbers. It’s still a climb up to a mountain station but instead it’s a slow ramp to help separate riders in a breakaway. There’s one section at 7-8% early but the rest is easy. Finally the road kicks up at the end, rising to 5% for the finish line. It’s still not for the climbers but more for the all round rider.

The Scenario: the long distance and the long uphill slope make this a handy test for any rider thinking about the upcoming world championships. Being able to turn on the power all day on a course like this makes for a good test ahead of the worlds. So we can think about several riders outside the top-20: Philippe Gilbert and Alessandro Ballan of BMC Racing or breakaway specialists like Thomas de Gendt and Sergey Lagutin and maybe even the so far invisible Damiano Cunego?

But this made-for-breakaway stage is obvious and several teams still need a result in the race so we can expect a busy start as teams try to place a rider in the move.

Weather: warming up as temperatures reach 26°C (78°F) with a light tailwind for most of the day.

TV: video should start around 4.00pm Euro time with the finish around 5.30pm but the tailwind and the ticking clock for teams to win a stage win could make things faster.

Meanwhile: today sees the release of Tyler Hamilton’s book. If this has little to do with the Vuelta it will put cycling on the TV bulletins again meaning whoever wins today could well be overshadowed. Unfair? Yes but it’s a legacy of the mess from the past.

27 thoughts on “The Spin: Vuelta Stage 17”

        • Liquigas had their ”good” riders in the USA Pro Challenge, and Sagan is preparing for different world champs and riding in canada.
          Explains why they’re kinda under the radar here.

      • Not harsh at all marc, the Italian teams have been anonymous this year, which is a shame, especially as I just read that Liquigas have finished a shed load of grand tours with all 9 riders, perhaps they are flicking Nibali for leaving?

  1. Perhaps a stage for Nicholas Roche who suffered on the long steep climbs. Given he’s nearly 12 minutes down he might as well go for a stage. Cunego is a good pick. Think we might see moncoutie up there, not for the mountains jersey but to win a stage to say farewell to the world of cycling.

    • Roche suffered on the steep climbs all right, but I though he came out of it pretty well. For him to still be in the top-10 after such a murderous route is pretty decent. It would be great to se him win a stage

  2. It will be interesting to see what (if any) waves get made by the release of the Hamilton book. Since so much of it has already been seen, my guess is the general public impact will be small. I think this is/was the BigTex strategy once he lost his court challenge – refuse to play so the big news blows over rather quickly without any of the juicy tidbits getting out there. Now John Q. Public is no longer paying attention, so tell-all books and the release of the evidence from USADA makes a much smaller splash. Tex really doesn’t care what people who read about cycling on the ‘net think, he pretty much knows his reputation has already been destroyed in their minds.
    So far the Vuelta’s been interesting with lots of action, though some of the giddy comments about the “best of the Grand Tours” may be premature. I thought the Giro was more interesting with some real outsiders having a great impact on the race, far less predictable than (so far) the Vuelta where the top contenders have been up there while no big surprises have come from elsewhere. Perhaps the only big surprise in the Vuelta is that Froome’s not even going to equal his placing from last year?

  3. I missed the stage – am away this week – but the description sounds like it was clever tactic.

    With hindsight it was a smart move. Where does Rodriguez suffer most relative to others? A long gradual uphill climb where he has to turn a big gear fast uphill in one long effort.

    Glad to be wrong with the preview this morning!

  4. velonation reported: I was scared of losing my advantage in the last fifteen kilometres because I hadn’t eaten a lot. I was afraid that other riders could catch me.”

    While cyclingnews reported: “I kept on eating and drinking because I was worried I would blow. I knew if I blew I would lose the second place overall.”

    I find it somewhat contradictory statements. you think someone messed up while translating?

  5. Wow – spectacular move by Contador. Only caught the summary. I very much liked the victory salute – when AC gets emotional he seems to forget to fire his pistol – so much the better!

  6. …the best moment of the season. And no one was able to see it!!!! 🙂
    As all great unseen events, this will only add to its legend. Just like Contador’s face over the finish-line.. no more Pistolero theatrics, this was ten times more expressive and real.

  7. ‘If it seems to good to be true it probably is ! ‘ Sorry the earlier comment was a mistake. Agree with LoP. I watched for five minutes, weighed up the situation and them switched off the television and went off to clean the windows.

  8. Am kinda regretting not setting my alarm to get up and watch it live now, sounds like an amazing ride

    …although must say there’s also a little voice at the back of mind pointing out how El Shooter McGavino managed to come out after a rest day and slay the entire field, especially with all the Riis stuff going on at the moment. Hopefully all the usual quant guys will release their watts/kg guesstimates and put my mind at ease.

    • Agreed. Though, it didn’t seem as hair-raising an escape as it sounds. I only caught the last 30km, so I don’t know how Contador managed to bridge up to the break, but it looked to me like, once he did, he rode with the break for a good while before going off with Tiralongo. After that, wasn’t alone until the last climb. But, even then, on that last climb, it was about a wash with JRod as far as time gained (ie, he gained all or just about all the time he gained on JRod prior to the final climb). The amazing performance on the final climb was Valverde, who nearly caught Contador despite being nearly 1:30 back on the road. Though, admittedly, Valverde had help, whereas Contador & Rodriguez did not.

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