Vuelta Stage 11 Preview

A short stage with a sharp finish up a narrow track. After yesterday’s time trial will the race for red be fixed today or will others be out of revenge and a chance to open up the race?

Stage 10 Wrap: Tony Martin won but that was the only predictable moment of the day. His win wasn’t as crushing as we might expect with Rigoberto Uran at 15 seconds and Fabian Cancellara 18 seconds behind… including a seven second time penalty for drafting (why seven seconds?).

Alberto Contador didn’t win the stage but he did win the day. His physio session leaves him looking almost untouchable now with 27 seconds on Alejandro Valverde and 59 on Uran: we’ve seen him climbing better than them in the race so far and he said he hoped to ride himself into form.

For a small man Nairo Quintana had a big loss of over four minutes after running out of road on the descent and executing a somersault over the bars. Unlucky… but lucky not to come off worse. He’s down on GC and even at his best taking time in the mountains is going to be a big ask. A team mate for Valverde now as Movistar aim for the podium? They still have cards to play.

Meanwhile Chris Froome’s hopes rest on salvaging a podium place after getting savaged in the time trial. Once a specialist discipline he was off the pace and didn’t look his usual smooth self – when in a time trial tuck he’s more of a stylist.

Bike Tech: one small observation was OPQS riding with their rear quick release skewers on the wrong way around. Why? The lever is used to tuck the rear mech cable in-line with the frame. The photo shows Tony Martin and Uran was spotted with the same.

The Route: a short day at just 140km to cover before the final climb. It’s all about the final climb, the riding on the way doesn’t offer much of a challenge. The terrain suits a breakaway.

The Finish: the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar is a novelty for the race in more ways than one. Used for the first time this is also a concrete road rather than the usual bitumen surface making it that bit harder. You’ll find many a betonweg in Belgium but those are rolled flat while this is the kind where workers pour the concrete and them someone scars the surface with a brush to make a more adhesive surface. It’s narrow, slow and barely a road. As the profile shows it’s steep too with irregular sections as the road pitches up.

The Scenario: good weather favours the peloton but by now so many riders have lost time that they’ll never recover so it’s a good day for a breakaway and two races for the price of one: the stage win and the GC battle.

The Contenders: Alberto Contador is the default choice. He’s better than the rest and must be feeling more confident than than he’s been for a long time. Joaquim Rodriguez will appreciate the final climb, in the past almost a shoe-in but he’s less incisive in this race and more consistent.

Today’s finish is near Nairo Quintana’s adopted home in Spain in case he wants more motivation. The same region has been Rigoberto Uran’s base too but the mane-man seems to be better at time trials than climbing so maybe a sore Quintana gets the better of the two?

Can Chris Froome bounce back? If he’d suffered misfortune yesterday maybe the chances would be better but he got his pacing wrong and was slower than his rivals which suggests form and function are the problems. Samuel Sanchez could one to watch out for too, he’s been getting better as the race goes on and has Cadel Evans behind him too.

Alberto Contador
Joaquim Rodriguez, Nairo Quintana
Chris Froome, Samuel Sanchez, Alejandro Valverde
Uran, Dan Martin, Chaves, Nieve, De Marchi

TV: As usual the finish is expected for 5.40pm Euro time.

It’s live on Eurosport, Universal Sports and more. If not cyclingfans and both have links to pirate feeds with the latter also listing where you can view the race properly too.

Daily Díaz: Km 96,2, second intermediate sprint of the day in the city of Estella (Spanish) or Lizarra (Basque), which hosts the GP Miguel Indurain every spring. This small city as the capital of Spain for a brief time in the 19th century. How can that be possible? Well, in 1833, after the death of king Ferdinand VII, there was a civil war
between his daughter (3yearold Isabella II) and his brother (pretender Charles). Before dying, Ferdinand abolished the Salic Law, which forbid women to inherit the Spanish Crown, so that his only daughter would be queen, not his brother. Charles was very disappointed, as we can imagine, and in the name of the true religion started a war against his niece with the double goal of becoming king and returning to an absolute monarchy (Isabella’s supporters were liberal). The pretender was more successful in the north of Spain (Navarre, the Basque Country, Aragon, Catalonia, which wanted their local laws and taxes to be respected), but the biggest town he could control was Estella, which was his capital until 1839, when Charles decided he had lost the war and left the country for good.

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

31 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 11 Preview”

  1. Nairo is now blaming the brakes. Buddy, you overcook the crap out of that corner. If the brakes were any stronger, you would’ve been flying over the cliff.

    • Very true. He also denied the crash had anything to do with his fiddling with his shoe just prior, but if you can watch the replay you can see that this causes him to enter the corner incorrectly, and it’s this wrong line that sends him into the barriers.

      At least that’s the way it looks from my armchair 😉

    • Quintana didn’t blame the brakes as if they were faulty. As John Liu posted, he stated that he braked too hard — he accepted the blame for the cause of the crash. Whether adjusting his shoe affected the line he took going into that turn is subjective. Maybe he still would have chosen that wrong line without a prior shoe adjustment. He was going too fast into the turn on a bad line, he braked too hard in a recovery attempt, went off the main roadway, skidding and flying over his handlebars. I watched the video over and over.

      He also accepted his devastating crash as part of bike racing. From all that I could find, his injuries are scrapes, bruises and the like, nothing major, which is very fortunate given the nature of the crash. But today he’ll have more pain than yesterday and we’ll see how/if that affects his climbing.

      He’s a tough competitor. I hope he can make up time on AC over the next two weeks, but being down 3:25 is a lot of time to make up on El Pistolero who is in great form.

  2. I appreciate Quintana’s honesty: he’s usually calm, polite and guarded, but after yesterday he just said “I am f***ed.”

    There have been lots of questions over the form of Froome/Contador etc, and now Quintana has crashed. I cross my fingers for TdF 2015 where hopefully all the top guns will be finally together (inc. Nibali), having targeted the race from a few months out, and going mano a mano. But obviously anything can happen between now and then.

    • Anonymous: Where did you read that quote by Quintana? Here is the quote I read on several websites: “I’m screwed,” Quintana, who was limping at the finish, said afterwards, as he admitted he had miscalculated the corner.” – cyclingnews

      He’s still the same polite competitor, not using the “f” word.

      “…He explained later that he actually braked too hard before the turn. “Just before the corner I was tightening up my shoe, but I don’t thing that was really the problem…What happened was I over-braked, it wasn’t enough, and I hit the ground. Fortunately I wasn’t too badly hurt, my left knee came off the worst, and I’ve got bruises all over, but cycling is like that.” – cyclingnews

      • A Spaniard on Cycling News translated his words rather differently

        Quitana said the following word by word: “I was feeling good. Unfortunately, the bike did not brake. I didn’t think the bike would take so long to brake and the bike didn’t brake. I managed to evade the situation well and I didn’t get too damaged. I was tightening my shoe before the curve but that didn’t have any influence [on the fall]. What happened was that the bike didn’t have enough brakes. Well, I have lost some time and I will try to help Alejandro and get to the podium”.

  3. Heh, Rigoberto Uran a.k.a. “The Mane-Man”! Great moniker. Great ride yesterday as well.

    Surprised/disappointed at Froome, though. Would’ve thought he’d had plenty of time to recover since TdF and would want to come back with a vengeance.

    Shame about Quintana, finally having wrestled Movistar captaincy from Valverde, he may be back to riding support?

    • I know he said he went out too hot at first, and as Mr Rng pointed out a few days ago, Sky don’t exactly treat the Vuelta prep like they do Le Tour, so it’s possible that this happened, but I have to say he wasn’t exactly flying round those corners either— I’ve seen drunk people riding bikes round corners, sort of slow and wobbly, and it’s how he looked. I’m not sure 1 minute to Contador is an accurate deficit in terms of raw power, but roads have corners and a cycle race is a measure of all aspects of riding bikes, as we know, so that’s just how it is.

  4. Re Fab’s penalty for drafting.
    Why 7 seconds? Seems totally random.
    What did he draft behind? TV moto? Team car? Or another rider ( presumably going slower than him!)

    • Three riders were disqualified from Tour of Utah in August because of drafting (behind cars). Seemingly the comissaires are more strict today than they used to be.

    • “Popo”, I’ve read somewhere (I didn’t check if it was accurate). I guess that if Popo slowed down and waited him, then he could lend a good hand with a gregario turn on the front.

      7 seconds, because with 5 secs it would have looked like: “hey, that’s exactly one second behind Urán, they did it on purpose!”; and with 6 secs: “hey, they tried to cover that they just wanted to put him one sec behind Urán, so they put one more second in, but we got them!!!” 😛 😛 😛

  5. On the historic note, it must be said that only the rural areas of Navarra, or Basque Country took the feudal, ultra Catholic, protectionist, Carlist side. The cities of Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Pamplona always stayed liberal.

  6. All (lost?) in translation. The English subtitles in the UK for Quintanas post race interview said “my brakes failed”.

    Interesting that Contador was frantically waving a moto away at one point – had he been told Cancellara had been penalized, or just expected the commissaires to be harsh?

  7. >>Bike Tech: one small observation was OPQS riding with their rear quick release skewers on the wrong way around

    James Huang is reading this with envy. You have scooped him.

  8. There is a table in the UCI rulebook that gives the number of seconds to fine a rider for drafting. One axis is speed of rider and the other axis is time observed drafting. Just find where they meet and voilà, fine. Not random at all actually. Kind of a cool table to look at too.

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