Vuelta Stage 12 Preview

A circuit race for today’s stage, an air of a Belgian kermesse as the race does eight laps around Logroño. We can expect a sprint finish. Today’s the day for a siesta and if you need to wash you hair, do it today.

Stage 11 Wrap: Fabio Aru won the stage, his first win outside of Italy. The Sardinian remains an irregular talent but is getting stronger and more consistent and with this ride he’ll be a force for the Giro and Vuelta next year. Perhaps he was allowed to ride away but you only get permission to slip the front group… if you’re in the front group and can ride away. In other words he might have had room to operate but only after forcing his way clear. At the other end of the front group Chris Froome was playing yo-yo and just managed to cling on, at one point riding past the group as if to impose his pace on them. Nairo Quintana crashed out earlier along with several others. After falling out of the red jersey he’s left the race and the event is poorer without him, his attacks in the mountains could have enlivened the race.

The Route: what’s Spanish for déjà vu? Because today’s stage with eight laps around Logroño is a copy of a stage in the 2012 Vuelta. Eight laps of a 21km circuit. It has a small amount of elevation per lap but no marked climb.

The Finish: an urban finish the route twists and turns in town but the final kilometre is a 1km long straight road. Crashes are always possible but the riders will be familiar with the route given the circuit so there won’t be any surprises.

The Scenario: a sprint finish. In 2012 only one rider went up the road knowing the move was forlorn but that was Stage 5 and this is Stage 12. Riders are more tired and some know they have only a few chances left to shine so we could see some scrapping.

The Contenders: Nacer Bouhanni is the prime pick. He’s got the speed and the team in his service. His team are going to miss him next year, they have not had many other wins. John Degenkolb is a close second, he won here in 2012. Andrea Guardini is very fast but has been covered in bandages but now seems more able to sprint.

Nacer Bouhanni
John Degenkolb
Andrea Guardini, Michael Matthews
Ferrari, Pelucchi, Sagan, Debusschere , Hutarovich

TV: As usual the finish is expected for 5.40pm Euro time. Tune in for the final 20 minutes to watch the sprint festival.

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: Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, the less populated autonomous community of Spain, along the Ebro river. Wine (vino) is the most known product of La Rioja: it is very important in its economy (some of the wealthiest families of the region have created their fortunes in the vineyards), its traditions (Haro Wine Festival, with drinking competitions and la batalla del vino) and the way it is perceived in other places. For example, there is a Spanish TV series called Gran Reserva (“reserve wine”), which tells the story of three opposing Riojan wealthy families which work in the wine business with different mentalities: is it a way of life, or just a way to get richer?

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

25 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 12 Preview”

  1. Damn bonus seconds. Imo they don’t do much good for the racing. Perhaps one of the three Spaniards would have attacked yesterday, if there weren’t any bonus seconds on the line to worry about.

    • Bonus seconds are a complete distortion.
      What if a wheel sucker was to win a grand tour by popping out and grabbing bonus seconds at the end of the hilly stages?
      In fact if memory serves me correctly Dan Martin lost the Tour of Poland in 2011 because a certain Mr Sagan took bonus seconds off him, whereas if the race had have been left to the actual result on the road Martin would have won.

      • With no bonus seconds, the race would have been raced in a different way. The question is not “would the results have been different if there hadn’t been any bonus seconds?”, but “how do bonus seconds contribute to a quality race?”.
        After saying that, I have to confess I’m against bonus seconds, too, and was happy when the Tour de France stopped using them. Anyway, it’s a subject for a deep discussion.

        • I agree.

          I think they have their place in many one-week races, who doesn’t remember Garzelli vs. Scarponi in Tirenno a few years back? In Pologne ’11 it would have been a win-one-stage-win-the-GC race without bonus seconds (like the first Tour of Beijing).

          However in GTs there are already plenty of places to gain time. It falsifies the GC (together with TTTs) and make riders more concerned about saving themselves for the sprint than to attack and gain time.

          • I like bonus seconds but what should be removed is the team time trial. That has a more distorting effect on the outcome of the race. I understand it’s a “team sport” in some regards but as a spectator, I pay much more attention to the individual performance and want to see the race decided mano a mano more than mano a manos.

            In years past, GT’s had bigger time gaps, minimizing the time differences created in the TTT, but with a race like the Vuelta with very small differences separating the top competitors, it seems punitive for one rider to loose because 8 other guys couldn’t go fast enough.

          • Watching 9 guys in the same kit fly around a corner and down a straight section like a locomotive is pretty special. But whether it’s the TTT, a sprint, a mountaintop or the overall, you can rarely win without a good team.

  2. Why did they have to revive this stage? As I recall the 2012 stage was a forlorn disaster to watch with the peloton doing everything they could to leave the lone break rider out there as long as possible and riding at an extremely slow pace.

    Hopefully the show is a bit better this time around.

    • Ha! All this kerfuffle gave me a lot of amusement this morning. Kenny Pryde’s just tweeted from the Vuelta that its quite the joke in the Tour caravan today. He also says that the UCI visited Garmin for a look.

      • I saw the video yesterday evening and laughed… woke up this morning and it was in L’Equipe, Marca and many news websites with the suggestion it’s real… the fact that many want to believe it says something.You half feel sorry for the journalists having to ask the team about it although most see the funny side.

  3. The (US) announcers said Froome was having trouble on the last climb. To me, he was racing in his typical head-down position, and seemed to be carefully watching his power meters. Perhaps he was racing the stage more as an uphill time trial? The end result certainly looked like that.

  4. Ok, that’s my hair washed.
    If you all sleep through the highlights on ITV4 ( for those who watch it on there) then why not wake up and watch ‘Slaying the Badger’, 8-9.50pm.

  5. What is with the dislike of time bonuses and a TTT ? I feel the bonuses at the sprints and finish actually liven up a race. It also allows for the leaders jersey to change hands many times in the first week. Without the bonuses Val would have worn the Red Jersey all the way to stage nine. Boring.

    I find TTT far more entertaining than an ITT. Why ? Because it brings out the need for a strong team to win a bike race. I will watch a TTT, but rarely an ITT. I have seen many a rider lose a bike race because he had a weak team and vice-versa. Cycling may reward individuals, but those rewards are pursued by a teams. Perhaps some of you TTT and bonuses haters would like to go back to the days when there were no teams. ? Can you imagine the chaos and havoc of having 198 riders with their own support vehicles and domestiques ? It would be nearly impossible for commissaires to control a race and there would also be 10 times as many vehicles on the road and in the feed zone. What a disaster that would be.

    If you have the time and patience to negotiate the UCI website, within the rules section, you will find a little known caveat. All bike races are required to have two competitions, GC and Team competition. All other competitions are installed at the discretion of the race organizer. Yes, the UCI is trying to emphasize a team aspect, not just with a teams competition but with a TTT. It goes to prove, in racing as in life, one must have a strong team in order to succeed as an individual.

  6. Just curious to find out why you obviously rate Bouhanni as the better sprinter than Dege? If one is faster than the other I would say Dege will probably beat him more often than vice versa but I would not argue with rating them both as five star (resp. ring, sorry!) favorites for a stage like this.

    • Side by side I think, and it’s only opinion, that Bouhanni is faster and also willing to take more risks. But Degenkolb is a versatile rider, better on hillier days. If today’s circuit was harder I’d have tipped him.

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