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Vuelta Stage 3 Preview

A day for the sprinters but for the breakaway riders too who can take the mountains jersey for a few days with the points on offer atop the first category Puerto del Léon. All without Vincenzo Nibali, excluded after being caught hanging on to his team car yesterday.

Stage 2 Wrap: Esteban Chaves won the stage in a convincing manner, attacking out of the front group, passing the move with Nairo Quintana, Nicolas Roche, Louis Meintjes and Tom Dumoulin to set the pace. Roche tried an attack and blew, Dumoulin tried to track but blew too and Estaban Chaves was left blowing kisses in his victory salute. An impressive win and good, even unexpected riding by Tom Dumoulin, who showed us what could have been on the Mur de Huy had he not crashed out. Of course it wasn’t to be but with rides like this he’ll deliver something big one day and he’s looking more and more like stage racing talent than a time trial prodigy. Behind there was tactical tension with Quintana’s presence upfront meaning Astana and Katusha didn’t want to chase and expose themselves to a counter-attack by Valverde.

There were many crashes and one giant one with 30km to go, it took out many and Vincenzo Nibali was left behind and forced to chase, at times solo, at times with some help. The images caught on camera led to the inevitable disqualification of Nibali and his DS Alex Schefer. Nibali’s crime was two fold: first to be caught on camera for it; second to gain advantage on other riders. If he’d got a tow just to get back to a group of dropped riders there would have been a certain indifference, a tolerance to him rebalancing the misfortune of a crash, but being towed clear from this group was outrageous, he might as well have sat in the car Sepulveda-style. He’s paid a heavy price and 2015 looks like a year to forget sports-wise. He and especially his team should have known better. Meanwhile without scandal Tejay van Garderen lost 45 seconds and Domenico Pozzovio lost 55 on the final climb.

The Route: an uphill start early on and the Alto de Mijas is the perfect launchpad for the day’s breakaway, 6km at 7.1%. On a day promised to the sprinters a breakaway can look futile but many will be interested in going clear today because of the two climbs, score on the first climb and then win atop the Puerto de Léon, 16km at 5%, and a rider can hope to hold the mountains jersey for the week, a good prize anytime but even more important when you consider just how many out of contract desperados need a result right now.

The Finish: that late bump on the profile is on a big wide road and should not present a problem for sprinters who have shown up in form. It’s exposed but the forecast says calm weather. Then comes a high risk downhill section into town, no big obstacles, just riders spinning out their gears and jostling for position. There’s a 270˚ bend before the 1km to go banner and then a straight, flat dash to the line.

The Contenders: a duel between Nacer Bouhanni and John Degenkolb? If so then Degenkolb wins on paper because he’s got the stronger, more consistent team including Luza Mezgec as a Plan B. But it’s neither a two way battle nor that simple. Bouhanni was in the big crash yesterday and got a bit cut after colliding into someone else’s chainring but he thrives on adversity. The late hill will sort out a few but could some teams try to set a fierce pace over the Puerto de Léon to eliminate the sprinters? Probably not, even if Tinkoff-Saxo could eliminate some sprinters they’d still have to ride on the front for 80km, use up riders, and then Peter Sagan could be outsmarted in the finish. So Sagan is more likely to try a classic sprint. Caleb Ewan should be there too and then come a string of others like Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal), Tom Van Aesbroeck (Lotto-Jumb0), Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing), Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka) and Lorenzo Manzin (FDJ).

John Degenkolb, Nacer Bouhanni
Caleb Ewan, Peter Sagan, Kris Boeckmans
Van Aesbroeck, Van Poppel

Weather: warm and sunny with a top temperature of 32°C and a 10-15kmh breeze from the southwest.

TV: tune in for the finish in Malaga which is expected, like every upcoming stage, for 5.4opm Euro time. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.

Daily Díaz: the Vuelta arrives to Málaga, the sixth city in Spain by its population. It has a looong history which starts somewhere in the 8th century BC: the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Arabs ruled the place before the Christian conquest in 1487. Another conquest took place in early 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Before that, in 1881, Pablo Picasso was born in the city. This painter, who spent most of his life in France, is perhaps best known for his work “Guernica” which represents the bombing of that Basque town by the German air force in 1937. A symbol of the consequences of war on the civil population, this huge painting can be contemplated in Madrid.


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.

  • Augie March Monday, 24 August 2015, 6:59 am

    I’m sure there’s a good joke about not-so-hidden motors in all this somewhere.

    Also, while TVG, Pozzovivo and Majka lost a few seconds, this still is only stage two, there’s a long way to go yet. Plus if the TTT hadn’t been GC neutralised both BMC and Tinkoff’s leaders would be in a much better position.

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:15 pm

      If the TTT hadn’t been GC neutralised, it is likely that BMC and Tinkoff would have gained very little time, as the other teams would have ridden it properly.

  • weeclarky Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:10 am

    Astana cheating? No way!

    • Panda Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:32 am

      Of course not, it was just a simple error according to their statement
      ‘Astana Pro Team is sorry for the error, and apologizes to the peloton and race organizers for the harm these televised images caused to professional cycling’

      • betabug Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:58 am

        They are sorry for the error made by the comissaires. They also apologized for the televised images, as there would be nothing to apologize if it wasn’t televised.

  • Narkie Monday, 24 August 2015, 7:41 am

    That was a very, very impressive ride by Chavez, especially when you compare his ride to Quintana’s and Froome’s. Looking forward to see how he goes compared to those two in the longer climbs

  • The Real Jhutch Monday, 24 August 2015, 8:14 am

    A great win from Chavez, perfectly timed and further signs of a rider who has the potential for greatness.
    As for the Nibali incident, as I understand it the DS dropped back to Nibali so very much looked planned, people do things as a spur of the moment bit of stupidity but this can’t be claimed here. If nothing else pulling away from a large punch it that way showed deep disrespect for the other riders.

  • MattF Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:08 am

    You have to wonder if Nibali and Astana are willing to cheat so blatantly in front of fellow competitors, TV cameras, spectators and commissaires, I wonder what they get up to behind closed doors.

    • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:13 am

      No need to get excited. It happens all the time, not nice, but no big deal either. Was caught on TV, so the jury was forced by the looming social media pressure to do this. In the race, people do stupid things, that sound good only in that second, like getting into a car, get driven a few metres and get back in the race, as it also happened this year. From the pictures I think Astana knew, Nibali’s bis was over, so they drove up to him, telling him to hold on to the car. I don’t think they for a second thought they get away with it, I think they were expecting a fine, like 2 min or more, they just never thought he would be expelled from the race. As for Nibali: When/if your team tells you to hold in to the car, what’s he supposed to do? Difficult.

      • Tovarishch Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:33 am

        You mean they are another team that don’t read the regulations? Elimination is the only option open to the Commissaires.

      • noel Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:03 am

        not sure I follow your logic that they would expect a fine of 2 minutes or more for pulling him across a 90 second gap… what would that achieve?

  • hahostolze Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:29 am

    Why are we so sure the sprinters will all survive 16km at 5% in good enough nick and without a breakaway far ahead?

    • Ferdi Monday, 24 August 2015, 9:45 am

      Exactly. If Tinkoff or some other team doesn’t try to climb that 1-st category pass fast enough, a breakaway of qualified climbers will get out of reach for the peloton.

      • hahostolze Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:44 am

        Exactly this. Think it might be a big enough risk for TCF to wear out their squad in the hope Sagan makes it. I think a breakaway stays away today. Ay.

    • Die Hard Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:37 am

      It is likely they will not survive, but there is 80km to get back to the peloton. So with help of their team mates, they will probably make it back. Especially if there is no special reason for the peloton to ride hard, as INRNG was saying. Unless Sagan and TCG make it a hard stage which, to be honest, they have done in the past. I think it was a Vuelta stage too where they started riding with 60k to go or something like that.

      • The Inner Ring Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:26 pm

        It’s a long way to attack, there are 80km to go and besides the climb is not that difficult. They’d need to take out a 10 minute lead over the climb in order to defend this against the chasing sprint teams given many teams have an interest in a bunch sprint… which I’d like to see but I don’t think it’s possible.

        • Bash Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:34 pm

          It’s not quite as easy a climb as all that – Plenty of ramps and false flats along the way, and my Strava has it down as 6% for 15.4km. Not to say it’s gonna be all that taxing for the riders though – I don’t remember any crazy hard parts. It’s pretty though, all the more for taking you out of the sprawl of Malaga. My ride took me through actual slums on the way to the foot of the climb – didn’t realise western Europe had slums. Away from the coast, Andalucia is a very impoverished part of the world. But so lovely. I’d like to go back again.

  • dave Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:01 am

    it was only a 5km bump, not sure Chaves will stay with Q+F in the high mountains as yet.

    seems like Froome’s performance went under the radar yesterday, when Roche went he looked to being slipping back – but now going over the results and seeing Quintana’s slide post attack, actually Froome’s performance may have been all about patience rather than missing the legs – not that we saw it but closing to 4secs behind Quintana and dropping all other contenders, even only by just a few seconds, isn’t a bad sign going into the next few days? Given that Q got no bonus seconds losing 4secs and saving energy not following his attack is a great return.

    *(((wish BBC.com would employ someone who knows something about cycling to write the headlines; before switching it to the Nibali story, their headline was along the lines of Froome loses precious seconds or whatever; incredibly misleading and ill-informed, no other sport seems to be so poorly reported on the site)))*

    very surprised to see Quintana off the back of Dumoulin etc, but not reading too much into that at this point, think he’s still likely favourite, despite this stage seemingly more tired than expected from Tour.

    no defence for Nibs – course he had to be disqualified, as others have mentioned above pretty disrespectful to everyone in that group, plus he got caught, plus as inrng says, coming back to a bunch maybe commissars can turn a blind eye but be taken away from one crash or no crash is just an absolute no surely?


    • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:43 am

      Never mind the headlines, you might as well give up on reading general British media covering cycling. Even those who used to use specialist cycling journos, increasingly use agency staff who wouldn’t know the difference between a pelican and a peloton.

      Froome…I’ll be surprised if he has the legs or the form as the race continues, but we’ll see.

      • Narkie Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:24 am

        Froome wins either way. Either he wins the Vuelta or he loses which takes oxygen away from the conspiracy theorists.

        • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:32 am

          Don’t mention Vo2 🙂

          Nah, the tin foil hats will just claim he’s pretending not to have the legs in an effort to throw the truth merchants off the scent

        • Andrew Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:36 am

          Is there any more statement of middle-class servility than this resorting to scornful mention of “conspiracy theorists” in whatever context at hand. There’s obviously loads of half-wits every side of every fence but that people conspire to do things . . . god that’s far out wacky stuff.

          • Sans Culottes Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:57 pm

            “middle-class servility” – wtf??

  • Paul Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:04 am

    Gutted that Nibali has ben DQ’d I was really looking forward to the intreague provided by the Landa, Aru conundrum.

    Great stage really enjoyed it – as usual the GT’s providing entertainment and drama

  • Gargatouf Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:06 am

    The commissaires should have left Nibali in the race just for having the sheer balls to even try that with a group of about 20 riders with him!!!
    When you look at the images, it looks like there are no moto cameras anywhere near that long straight, maybe that’s why they tried it. But you would think that someone who was with Nibali in that group would have said something after the race if he hadn’t been caught on TV.

    • Sam Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:13 am

      The riders behind are so WTF they almost stop pedalling 🙂

  • Tintinbike Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:39 am

    I liked the way the helicopter camera zoomed out as soon as they realised what was happening and then the TV producer flipped to another camera. Some kind of unwritten rule in operation? Too blatant to be left unpunished methinks.

  • Richard S Monday, 24 August 2015, 10:52 am

    So it looks like Nibali has the late season Italian classics and a world championships on a course that doesn’t suit him at all to rescue what has been a disaster of a season. Maybe he’ll focus on a few more races next year and not just the Tour.

    I’m going for Sagan today, just because.

    • Andrew Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:38 am

      Obviously overall a season to forget but for most riders, the queen stage of a TdF would make for something very different than a disaster of a season.

  • irungo txuletak Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:00 am

    What a knowledge on Spain culture inrng! I am impressed.
    Would have put 3 chain rings to Sagan today, as he proved faster than degge and Bouhanni in the Tour. But is he in the same shape? In any case, it would be incredible to see him second again!!!!

    Purito looks strong.

    • Special Eyes Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:58 pm

      Yes, the land of bandits yesterday and “desperados” today.
      Perhaps I should change my username to “Angel Eyes” for the duration ?

  • J Evans Monday, 24 August 2015, 11:50 am

    Sky and Movistar persistently drive on following a crash and yet complain when others do the same to them (Sky were the ones who pushed on immediately after the crash – as is so often the case [like in the TDF neutralisation], then Movistar and Katusha picked it up).
    Can only imagine the frequency of the British commentators’ whining had it been Froome, not Nibali (they really do make themselves look ludicrous with such bias: Carlton Kirby saying that it was all fair enough, of course).
    Nibali, though, should have got a team mate’s bike – Astana did abandon him, as he says.
    I don’t know why this isn’t standard practice – grab the team mate’s bike, then change later once the car has better access to you.
    But none of this excuses his blatant cheating – incredible to think he imagined he’d get away with it.

    • Tovarishch Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:56 pm

      Well your bias against the British is fairly clear but from what I read/heard most of the knowledgeable commentators (amongst whom I don’t include Kirby) felt that the race was on and Nibali did nothing wrong. But I’m sure recognising that would ruin your prejudices.

      • J Evans Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:08 pm

        So, as I’m criticising Nibali, I’m presumably biased against the Italians too? (How you think Nibali did nothing wrong is beyond me.)
        And you ignore the fact that I criticise Movistar just as much as I criticise Sky.
        So, I’m anti-Spaniards as well?

        I’d say I was pretty neutral when it comes to nationality (the above is an example of this) – people just don’t like it when I criticise those who show a nationalistic bias.
        If I was watching Italian/Spanish commentators I’d no doubt be criticising their bias.
        However, as I’m not, it tends to be the British commentators who I criticise. Similarly, as I read only English-speaking websites, it tends to be bias towards Anglo-speaking countries that I comment on.

        For me, I’d like to see teams wait in these incidents. However, many don’t. I think it’s fair to criticise those teams who do this, if they also complain when others do this to them (hence, I mentioned Movistar and Sky, and not Katusha – who I have no recollection of complaining).

        You have to ask yourself here, are you criticising the comment or the commenter? Particularly as there is no logic to your arguments against my comment (as I have explained above).

        (I sometimes post here under different names – and never face the same personal vitriol.)

        • noel Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:24 pm

          ignoring the personality squabbles if I may…. JE, on your point about waiting for order to be regained post crashes – the trouble is that it’s such a grey area, and I’d hate to see racing get constantly neutralised every time there is a crash… surely better to say that it’s a part of the race and everyone has to deal with it as best they can…

          • J Evans Monday, 24 August 2015, 1:58 pm

            Yes, I’d settle just for consistency. Or, at the very least, a lack of hypocrisy.

        • Douglas Adams Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:07 pm

          (I sometimes post here under different names – and never face the same personal vitriol.)

          Is one of them Marvin The Paranoid Android – it is, isn’t it?

          • J Evans Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:22 pm

            No, just to see how many people making stupid comments are doing so purely on the basis of bullying. Let’s keep it about the cycling.

        • Tovarishch Monday, 24 August 2015, 2:53 pm

          Nibali is a single person so, no, it wouldn’t imply bias against Italians, in general. British commentators, on the other hand, is a whole group of people whom you tar with the same brush despite it being without justification (listen to the cycling podcast after the incident if we wish to review the whole range of opinions.

  • Anonymous Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:15 pm

    Sticky bottle is one thing but Astana were taking the p*** with that move. Shame on Nibali and shame on Astana who seem to be doing nothing to enhance a great riders reputation.

  • Lanterne Vert Monday, 24 August 2015, 12:27 pm

    Tit for tat and tat for tit and tit for tat again…