Vuelta Stage 19 Preview

Stage 19 and there are just three seconds between Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Horner, a mere time bonus separates the two and there’s an uphill finish today which is enough to change things even if tomorrow brings the mighty Angliru to settle things.

Stage 18 Review
Vasil Kirieyenka won the stage. The stony faced hardman was ejected from the Tour de France but this time he eliminated his breakaway rivals with 50km to go and managed a smile on the finish line.

Behind we saw the GC riders locked in combat with each other and gravity. Katusha fired off Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez which caused trouble for some but only momentarily before but the Katusha pair started to default on their oxygen debt. Chris Horner profited and dropped everyone with Vincenzo Nibali saving his red jersey by just three seconds.

Stage 19 Preview
The Route: the race heads west along the Atlantic coast to Oviedo, turning inland to borrow some hillier terrain. Each of the two climbs on the way are manageable, the Alto de la Manzaneda is the tougher at 6.2% for 3.6km.

The Finish: the Alto del Naranco is listed at 5.7km at 4.2% but once you discount the soft first two kilometres it kicks up to 7-8% at times before easing to 6% for the final kilometre.

The Scenario: another day for a breakaway? Possibly and watch to see if the likes of Bauke Mollema or Warren Barguil are busy again as a rider who has already shown they’re strong in the third week often continues to kick sand into the faces of weaker riders. But there’s a long list of names to watch.

Amongst the GC contenders there’s still time to shake things up. The final climb is not hard but then there’s not much between Nibali and Horner. The rest of the GC is looking settled though and it’ll be hard to ride away.  Riders can track each other by sitting on the wheels, it’s not steep enough to reduce things to a private power-weight contest but we’ll see who is nervous about the Angliru and wants to take some time.

Weather: sunny and 22°C with a tailwind that could turn into a crosswind at times as the race heads along the coast but at 20km/h it’s hard for teams to exploit this

TV: as usual the finish is planned for 5.45 Euro time, as usual it will likely finish ahead of schedule.

Daily Díaz

  • If you think Spanish beaches equals Mediterranean Sea, San Vicente de la Barquera, departure town, will prove you wrong. Northern shores have colder and wilder waters, but that’s not a problem for Cantabrian fishermen.
  • In km 8,1 the race arrives to Asturias, the region where this thing called Reconquista started. Back in the 8th century, when the Moors practically conquered the peninsula, a fighter named Pelagius beat them in a remote, mountainous place called Covadonga. The end of the story arrived 750 years later in Granada (see stage 10).
  • Km 59’3 and the peloton passes through Ribadesella. In this coastal town takes place every summer a canoe competition consisting in the descent of the final 20 km of Sella River. If you prefer Palaeolithic paintings, visit the caves of Tito Bustillo.
  • With 7,8 km to go Oviedo will receive the race. Capital of Asturias, this city has definitely a Northern touch: green landscapes, paved streets, rain all year round. Fancy a drink? Try the local apple cider (sidra), served in a typical way at the local taverns.
  • Today’s finish line is in Mount Naranco, near Oviedo. This is where Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo are. These two buildings date back to the 9th century and so belong to the pre-romanesque Asturian architecture. Remember Pelagius? He created the kingdom of Asturias and these were the palace and church for his descendants.

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

40 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 19 Preview”

  1. Once again, the formidable Angliru on Saturday will determine the winner of the Vuelta. Friday’s stage should see the status quo, barring any mishaps–being the 13th.

      • Its the Internet, so wild speculation, shot in the dark theories,lack of knowledge and evidence don’t really matter. However some qualification in BS does certainly help.

        • I disliked speculation like this during the Tour, and just because I am not a fan of Horner (largely due to the way he wheelsucked Tommy D up to Snowbird at the Tour of Utah) does not mean I approve of this sort of “analysis” now.

          This analysis is a wonderful example of omitted-variable bias. There are just too many uncontrollable, unobservable and unquantifiable variables that make this type of speculation pointless – Katusha injecting some pace early on yesterday’s climb is one example. Add this to the fact that times are just estimations from TV footage and we are unable to draw any meaningful conclusions from yesterday’s time.

          If we were fortunate enough to have accurate, official timing for every climb of every race we might be able to isolate the effect (or lack thereof) of PEDs.

    • Yawn: self publicity at its worst. try to have some modicum of evidence before ranting so publicly like this. Yes we all have doubts about Horner but this is just ranting for the sake of page hits. Pathetic.

  2. I’m thinking it won’t be steep enough for long enough to seperate the top 4, though who knows with Horner in this form.

    If the GC riders are looking towards Angliru then the break should triumph again. Barguil’s as good a pick as anyone – wonder how many riders have won 3 stages from a break in a GT in the modern era?

  3. Good preview about Northern Spain. Let’s watch out for the descents. It won’t rain, but still, there are 4 tricky descents before the Naranco, and bike handling might prove decisive, especially if one of the 4 aces gets dropped (fighting one against three is not fun).

  4. “…default on their oxygen debt”
    terrific! (readin’ more financial news lately?)

    wonder if Horner tries today or just stays cool and saves the energy for Angliru, which ‘d better option imho.

  5. Every man has his moment … and this Vuelta is Chris Horner’s moment.

    The steep terrains of the course and minimal effect of only one ITT upon the GC, combined with the timing of him coming from an easy summer of good recovery training, relative to the tiredness that the other GC contenders brought with them from the Tour de France, combines to what you see here.

    As for the drugs accusations, too many people are focusing on technical data rather than the evidence that is obvious to anyone who studies human nature, and in particular the ego.

    The one thing in common with all the cheats of athletics and cycling is the cocky nature of the victors after their triumph. Why is this so ? because it is the ego which drives them to take it to begin with and the ego which is expressed in an overly cocky way afterwards. Ben Johnson , Lance ..etc.

    The true greats never have it – Carl Lewis, Bolt, Wiggins, Froome were all humble in victory.

    Chris Horner seems like a pretty humble guy, he may not be one of the greats, but this is his moment.

      • Try reading Richard Moore’s ‘The Dirtiest Race in History’and you may come back with a different opinion on Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis. (He’s the same Richard Moore who has written a slew of excellent cycling books – includng ‘Slaying the Badger’ ).

    • Wow. Being kind, there may well be some common-ish psycology of people who dope which is discernible on TV or in person. Perhaps more likely, especially given the miriad reasons for doping and justifications people use for it, there is an equal range of emotions and visible signs.

      I’m not at all convinced by your list of “clean” winners, but it’s hard to be convinced by anyone. Humble doesn’t really cut it when it comes to evidence and proof.

    • Its not evidence Sam …. evidence is for Science and the testers, and those who rely completely on logic to come to a conclusion. Its just my opinion on what seems to be … nothing more.

      • Actually, in your post you wrote:

        “”As for the drugs accusations, too many people are focusing on technical data rather than the evidence that is obvious to anyone who studies human nature, and in particular the ego””

        So you were referring to it as evidence.

        Logic isn’t everything, I agree. But flawed logic, such as yours, is worse than nothing.

        “”The one thing in common with ALL the cheats of athletics and cycling is the cocky nature of the victors after their triumph””
        – you don’t think there have been any dopers, ever, that have not been “cocky”? Really?

        “”The true greats never have it – Carl Lewis, Bolt, Wiggins, Froome were all humble in victory””
        – you’ve picked 1 retired guy about whom there is serious doubt as to his cleanliness, plus 3 current athletes who all are facing questions. I’m not saying they’re *not* clean, but I wouldn’t put my life savings on any of them just yet. Time will tell. (Plus – if Bolt turns out to be not clean later, I think you’ll fairly easily be able to slip him in to the cocky side of your theory, no?)

        And – how are you going to explain the cocky non-dopers? Based on your theory of ego/cockiness revealing who is and isn’t – where would you put the following: George Best? Ali? Lionel Messi? Nadal?

        Actually can’t believe I wasted 2 minutes replying to this now!

        • Most winners this year are ‘facing questions’ – including one of the most ‘humble’ of them all – Nairo Quintana.

          (and no, this does not mean for one minute that I have doubts around Quintana, any more than I (personally) have doubts around Wiggins or Froome)

          Its the environment we’re living in right now. And I loathe and despise all the dopers AND their enablers and the UCI heads and everyone else who needs to be held accountable – who’ve led us to this place.

        • You are right Paul … and the words I used were not very good to explain my point, which was not logical , just observational.

          The cockiness I was referring to comes after the event, not before.

          I didn’t see George Best, but from what little I remember of seeing him score, he would just put his hand up to celebrate … no mad Maradonna runs to the corner flag or crowd. And Pele the same.

          Ali, was by his nature and the nature of the building up a purse and interest in a fight in boxing prelims a unique man in a sport that promotes the ego to get the crowd in.

          Nadal seems pretty humble after the event in interviews as does Federra.

          Of course not everyone is the same, and some ego is needed to want to compete, but it is the after show which is the revealing aspect of the ego.

          The best know they are the best, but generally don’t flaunt the fact … but dopers know they are NOT the best and do flaunt it to satisfy their ego and try to convince others of it.

          Its all generalisations, but that’s because its generally true.

  6. I won’t be celebrating Horner’s victory if that proves to be the final outcome. I will reserve final judgement on any future information. Two things, amongst others, which are problematic with Horner are (a) his age. (2)as rider 15 he has always kept the omarta.

    For me personally that is not a problem, his two closest competitors also raise doubts, It is however a great shame for the sport.

  7. Any thoughts on radioshack trying to control it today and bring back a breakaway? My thoughts being if it comes down to time bonuses will Horner fancy his chances of a sprint to the line against nibali today to collect a greater time bonus and therefore take the lead? ie given the finish isn’t completely horrible you’d expect both to get to the line at roughly the same time otherwise.

  8. Cilmeri – I was thinking the same. Probably depends on the quality/size of the break and how much effort it take to bring it back.

    Re the cocky doper thing, it seems pretty flimsy to me. Many who win after doping appear, in retrospect, very humble or shy perhaps due to embarrassment. Podium pictures show a distinct lack of joy or pride. On the other hand, a rider who’s competitive and clean, may well be cocky as he knows just how great he must be to be on the same level as those who are cheating.

    We’ve had plenty of humble dopers and plenty of cocky (probably) clean riders. Two obvious examples: – Tyler Hamilton, Mark Cavendish.

    I did have a chuckle at Ussain Bolt being put into both the “humble” and “clean” categories though.

  9. You guy’s really, Listen to yourselves
    I grew up and rode in San Diego a few years before Horner. That said La Jolla with UCSD and a very larger corporate biochemistry communities which is La Jolla research triangle, Salk Inst.

    Everybody who rides road bikes in SD, rides through LJ, so we can all agree to jump too the conclusion that since CH rode through this “smorgasbord” of drug research co. as a kid training he must be a doper.

  10. IF Horner wins the Vuelta, I will be celebrating the achievements of this “old” man. If it turns out at sometime in the future that he won by doping (cheating) I will resign myself in the knowledge that I really enjoyed the race at the time. Much like most of the races I have witnessed over the last 20 odd years. Olympic RR not included.

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