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.
|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.
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