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Vuelta Stage 10 Preview

A stage for the sprinters? The final climb isn’t too hard but the effect of recent crashes could be seen today with several teams having lost sprinters and with it a reason to chase down the breakaway.

Tom Dumoulin

Stage 9 Wrap: a breakaway including mountains competition leader Omar Fraile who picked up five points… and now sits five points ahead of Tom Dumoulin. The group never had a big lead and weren’t working together well in the latter stages. They always needed to start the final climb up Puig Llorença with a big margin which they never got.

Behind the big names traded attacks right from the start of the final climb with Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana doing the old 1-2 and trading attacks. Or was it the new 1-2? This seemed unusually confident for the Movistar tandem as they too risks so early on the climb.

Dumoulin’s win was a victory of pacing. He accelerated midway and sprinted at the finish but overall his ride up the climb seemed far more linear and it probably left him the power to sprint for the win. Meanwhile Valverde, Quintana, Rafał Majka, Esteban Chaves and Fabio Aru were jumping around like popcorn. Froome’s pacing was even more linear, he appeared dropped at first but rode back at his own tempo to the leaders and had the resources to attack late only to be outsprinted by Dumoulin in a thrilling finish.

Too often these uphill finishes can be reductive, repetitive VAM tests but yesterday’s stage saw variety, risk and an unusual winner who now leads Joaquim Rodriguez by 57 seconds and must be looking forward to the time trial stage too. But what will he do in the high mountains? We had high hopes for Esteban Chaves but he cracked and lost a minute today while Chris Froome is back in the game.

The Route: the Puerto del Oronet is a gentle 6km at 4.4% but likely to be climbed fast as moves fly to make the breakaway. There’s then a 100km section to cover on the way to the climb to Desierto de las Palmas. This is a steady ascension, 7km at 5.6% and if there’s a section at 8-9% halfway up this only serves to bump up the average gradient as it’s short. Most of the climb is a 5% and accessible for the sprinters and probably known to many riders as a regular test from winter training camps in Spain.

The Finish: an urban sprint. The race takes the ring road around Castellón de la Plana with a roundabout to cross every kilometre between the 5km and 1km banners. After the flamme rouge it’s a right turn and then another right turn before the 600m finishing straight.

The Contenders: with Peter Sagan, Nacer Bouhanni and Kris Boeckmans out there’s John Degenkolb left in prime position for the win today. Caleb Ewan has shown the sprint speed needed last week but has been dropped on the climbs and Giant-Alpecin have an interest in repeating this. On paper the rest look like sprint outsiders with the likes of Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka), Julien Simon (Cofidis) and Max Richeze (Lampre-Merida) are sprinting in the top-10 but a grand tour stage win seems like a big ask. Danny Van Poppel will try but he’s bound to be tired after a day in the breakaway.

But the shortage of sprinters makes a sprint finish much less likely. Who will chase down the moves? Giant-Alpecin have an interest in chasing but Tinkoff-Saxo, Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal have lost their sprinters and this changes the balance of the race and increases the chances of a breakaway sticking. So if you’re the betting type Degenkolb might seem the obvious pick but the odds of a sprint happening aren’t so sure.

Otherwise who will try a breakaway? Obvious breakaway specialists include Thomas de Gendt, Adam Hansen, Steven Cummings, Cyril Gautier and Amets Txurruka. Can Alessandro de Marchi do anything? A year ago he was the peloton’s Duracell bunny with endless energy but injury and illness have written of the season and it could be time to show again.

John Degenkolb
Ewan, Drucker, Sbaragli, Reza, DVP, Plaza, Gautier

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 32°C.

TV: tune in at 5.00pm Euro time for the climb and then the finish at 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

Daily Díaz: What to say about Valencia? Its official name is V​alència ​(which comes from the Latin, meaning “strength” or “valour”), it is the third largest city of Spain, and was the capital of the country for some months during the Spanish Civil War. If I had to recommend one visit, I’d choose the Silk Exchange building, a symbol of the prosperity of the city during the 15th century. Valencia was the head of a Christian kingdom from 1238 (when James the Conqueror crossed the city gates) to 1707 (when Philip V abolished the F​urs,​ local laws). Recently the citizens decided not to re-elect Rita Barberá, mayor since 1991. Apparently they were tired of corruption scandals and big international events (F1, America’s Cup and so). Now that the times have changed, some fear a catalanisation​ of local and regional politics.

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GB Monday, 31 August 2015, 6:30 am

    Ah, I enjoyed watching de Marchi last year, I was wondering why I hadn’t heard much about him lately. Hope he (among many others) has a better time of it next season.

  • Swuzz Monday, 31 August 2015, 7:07 am

    GreenEdge will ensure Ewan gets a chance before he pulls out after this stage

    • Augie March Monday, 31 August 2015, 2:17 pm

      Could also try for Gerrans. Aside from one day in Pink from the Giro, it’s been almost all crashes for him this year.

  • Special Eyes Monday, 31 August 2015, 8:16 am

    Steve Cummings in the break and a decent outside bet today, me thinks..

    • Special Eyes Monday, 31 August 2015, 5:34 pm

      Right team, wrong rider ! ha.

  • Dr Manhattan Monday, 31 August 2015, 8:39 am

    Great finish yesterday. Attacks from the start of the climb, several riders seemingly cracking yet coming back, all around agressive riding. Good to see Movistar shedding the conservative tactics from the Tour. Very excited to see how long Dumoulin can hold on.

  • Michael Monday, 31 August 2015, 8:42 am

    Eurosport France announced that Thomas de Gendt had abandoned yesterday — or did they get that wrong?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 31 August 2015, 8:45 am

      Thomas Degand of IAM not Thomas de Gendt of Lotto.

  • Pete Linsley Monday, 31 August 2015, 9:22 am

    Great finish yesterday – unpredictable and cat and mouse. My prediction was changing by the minute – Rodriguez, Froome…oh, Dumoulin! Good to see Froome finding form and laying down a marker for Aru, Valvede et al.

    Very hard to predict a winner today, I’d say…

  • James Monday, 31 August 2015, 9:39 am

    A good read – how do you think the few GC surprises we have will cope cone the high mountains, particularly in Andorra? Also “written off” as opposed to “written of” next to

  • James Monday, 31 August 2015, 9:40 am

    *de Marching if I’m not mistaken.

  • James Monday, 31 August 2015, 9:40 am

    *de Marchi (goddamit mobile phones…)

  • Kendrick Monday, 31 August 2015, 10:14 am

    “Too often these uphill finishes can be reductive, repetitive VAM tests but yesterday’s stage saw variety, risk and an unusual winner ”

    I wonder if a reasonably short (12 min) climb and irregular slopes helped? Dumoulin afterwards said he hung on during the steep bits and attacked on the flatter bits, whereas the likes of Froome seemed to do the opposite, at least towards the end. Certainly was a great finale

  • irungo txuletak Monday, 31 August 2015, 11:45 am

    Dubbelslag voor Dumoulin. Who had believed it in such a climb?
    Really a thrilling finish. These steep climbs at the end of stages have the advantage of returning fight between GC contenders. As well, I suspect that they are so extreme that what happen one day will not necessarily happen on the next, i.e. if you have a lesser day on those slopes it is difficult to hide it. Next, they are not only a matter of power, strategy is important as well. We saw how Froome and Dumoulin entered 1st and 2nd by pacing it. Even Purito -I really though he would win until the last 200m- did not produce many attacks.
    In any case, this was a very surprising outcome as we had the 2 best time trialists winning time. It is still to see whether this will continue so in the real mountains, but what if Dumoulin is just one minute down (for instance) before Burgos TT?

  • Ian Monday, 31 August 2015, 2:52 pm

    Must have been one of the first times I’ve ever seen a Sky rider in the break. Was it a tactical move to avoid having to do the work chasing?

  • Cilmeri Monday, 31 August 2015, 6:31 pm

    I don’t understand sky’s tactics. Roche given leeway, Thomas in a break. Did they have no faith in Froome, ie was his “numbers” all wrong so they decided to try other things, or are they using the vuelta to test different tactics?

    I also tend to believe what I see in cycling, but am a little incredulous that dumoulin won that stage in that company. A hell of a ride.

    • Sam Tuesday, 1 September 2015, 4:15 pm

      I doubt its anything to do with his numbers

      More to do with uncertainty on the staff and management’s part, and also on his, on how readily he would find his legs. And then he went and dropped 30+ secs on st 7.

      There’s a reason why the team have been looking after Roche, Henao and Nieve through the first 10 days.

  • Ferdi Tuesday, 1 September 2015, 8:46 am

    Quite a good stage, finally. I really liked that Desert of las Palmas climb. And isn’t it just great when sprinters’ teams (or any teams) don’t completely run the show, and individual riders have their chances?

  • Dave the 4th Tuesday, 1 September 2015, 10:16 am

    Having lived and raced (as a local amature) in Valencia, I would say it has some good cycling, flat lands on the coast and hills to the east.
    Check out the Albufra and go there for Fallas, oh and the V is pronounced B so the locals call it “B”alencia

  • Velovibes Tuesday, 1 September 2015, 3:19 pm

    Dumoulin doesn’t look like a lightweight climber but he is surprisingly light, only around 70 kilos. And combined with the enormous wattage he can push it is not that surprising to me that he is doing so well up these climbs. Also, he looks as if he has lost a couple of kilos even since the Tour in July. He’ll do well tomorrow in Andorra. My guess is a top 10 finish within 2 minutes from the winner.