Vuelta Stage 7 Preview

The race has had some uphill finishes, today brings the first genuine summit finish and with it the chance to discover who’s able to win the race outright. As well as the main contenders we’ll see how Esteban Chaves fares on a longer climb and whether he’s still smiling at the end of the day.

Stage 6 Wrap: once bitten, twice shy? No because when Esteban Chaves attacked nobody chased him down despite his obvious form that’s won him a stage and a stint in red already. Perhaps they don’t rate his chances in the high mountains but when Chaves went, everyone else sat tight prefering to mark each other, fearful that if they responded they’d expose themselves to a counter-attack and therefore a loss. Tom Dumoulin couldn’t hold back because he had a jersey to defend but his diesel style couldn’t bring back Chaves. Dan Martin tried a move as well but it was too late, perhaps the story of his season so far?

The Route: 191km but like much of the Vuelta it’s all about the final climb. The mid-way peak is the Puerto de los Blancares, 9 km at just 3.3 %.

The Finish: a summit finish of 18.7km at an average of 5% but as you can see it’s two climbs for the price of one, a 6km climb then a flat section before over 8km uphill. Note that 14% section near the finish, it’s only short but it’s the obvious place for a testing attack.

The Contenders: he can climb and he can sprint so Alejandro Valverde is the prime pick. Yesterday we saw Nairo Quintana working on the front which suggests the Spaniard is Movistar’s best bet right now. Who is Katusha’s best rider? On paper it’s Joaquim Rodriguez but so far Dani Moreno has looked better this week and both have a good chance today.

We’ll now get answers about Chris Froome and Fabio Aru too, both have a good chance today. Esteban Chaves is climbing so well that he’s got to be a clear pick too, today is a long climb but he only has to sit tight and ride the team trains until the steep upper sections.

Alejandro Valverde
Dani Moreno, Joaquim Rodriguez
Aru, Chaves, Froome, Pozzovivo, Martin, Majka, van Garderen

Weather: hot and sunny with the thermometer reaching 38°C.

TV: the final climb is forecast to start around 5.10pm Euro time and as ever the finish is for 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport too and you can rely on Cyclingfans and for links to feeds and streams.

Daily Díaz: In 1492 the Christians conquered Granada, the last city of Spain controlled by the Arabs, and they had a problem to solve: what do we do with all these Muslim people living here? First they decided to let them keep their religion (m​udéjares)​, but later in the 16th century they were forced to convert to christianity (m​oriscos)​. Of course that conversion was only formal and very superficial, and many many people in Granada and other parts of Spain continued practising Islam in private. This tension couldn’t last long (the Spanish monarchs were fighting the Ottoman empire, and these m​oriscos​ were thought of as traitors who would facilitate a Turkish invasion), and in 1568 an armed rebellion started in the Alpujarras, led by Aben Humeya. It took three years and many deaths to end this war, after which the m​oriscos ​were evacuated from Granada to other parts of Spain, and migrants were sent to the Alpujarras, today’s finish, to prevent depopulation. The definitive expulsion was ordered in 1609.

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

33 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 7 Preview”

  1. OGE’s plan was always for Chaves to ride for GC, the stage wins and leader’s jersey are a fantastic bonus. They’ve never had a grand tour GC rider before, so a top 10 finish would be great for both him and the team. This stage will be a good test with that, can he hang with what Sean Kelly has been describing as the “beeg favourites” on a tough climb?

    My tip would be Froome, he’s looked good in the last few stages, and as was discussed here post tour, seems to thrive on these “monoclimb” stages where he can put in one huge effort at the end rather than having to pace himself over multiple big mountains.

  2. Froome’s attack on Pierre-St-Martin was not on a final steep section, but just before a flatter section. It was probably chosen because while Quintana could possibly match him on the true climbing sections, he would not be able to reel in Froome’s attack over the flatter section.
    It appears that this stage is somewhat similar – a “mono-climb” stage with a flattish section on the climb, but further from the finish. Will Froome dare to attack 12 km from the finish? I wouldn’t be too surprised, but he would only do so on a good day.

    • Similar to Ventoux in 2013 – Froome attacked where the road flattens out a bit.

      Think its a bit long range here, even for him – and given uncertain form…

    • Was thinking exactly the same looking at that profile. might be a bit too far out as you say and also closer to the start of the climb so more likely to be a bigger group left, making it harder to attack from. if movistar and/or katusha have two riders left at that point it will be difficult to get away

      • If Froome’s in fine form, it’s very good for him. Make your team (be it Sky or Movistar) play the right rhythm until the last 5 kms or so, then you tune on your training theme. An under-6% section is easy enough for the pro to give the upper hand to heavier riders (said otherwise, they can climb at 30km/h which makes pure power significantly relevant over power/weight ratio).
        That is, Froome gets his chance with 4kms to go (a distance he can cope with when in good shape). The last 2kms also seem quite suited to him, the 4% section, as well as the wall followed by some 6% all the way to the line. Froomey is also quite good on walls, if they’re short enough to be compatible with the duration of his all-out whipping.
        All that, if the climb profile is ok… if there’s something in which the Giro is utterly superior to the Tour, that’s cartography – but the Vuelta lies exactly all the way down at the bottom of that quality scale.

    • i’m hoping froome attacks… assuming movistar have their tactics straightened out (big assumption), offense will be the best form of defense for him…

  3. It was a strange and muted finish. The obvious desinterest to go after Chavez (aside from Dumoulin) probably means the GC-riders really don’t worry much about him – despite what they might say in interviews. It reminded me of the way big dogs let young puppies run around, don’t mind if they are playing a little bit too lively, but when it gets too much, they show them fast enough who is in charge. After all he is been through, I am happy for Chavez that he is in such good form and has such a great time. We will see, how far he can carry the jersey.

  4. I’ve been really impressed with Chaves. Comes across really well, always smiling and personable. Seems like someone who’d be a great team mate. Hopefully he can keep on performing.

  5. The Vuelta so far sums up for me what has been so great about this race over the last few year – no one is sure where the race for GC is going. At this point in the TdeF Froome, at nearly a minute down, would be being written off and Chaves would already being crown as the final winner; the only thing that seems sure is that Martin will put in a race winning turn of speed a minute later than needed. Today should be interesting with the first stage that offers the chance of race loosing time gaps for anyone who cracks at the wrong point. Can’t wait to see the first real test of form for those who raced the Tour; so far Froome has looked strong but will his legs be there when it counts, today should tell us a lot.
    It’s been great to see the success of Ewan and Chaves, brilliant riding from both. How Chaves will cope over the full free week remains to be seen; as a rider who has shown great promise in the past this seems to me his announcement as a GC winner of the future. What make me feel slightly sad is that (and I hope I’m not correct) 2 young winner from one team is going to start cries of ‘dopé’ from all those who seem to follow the sport only to throw mud from the sidelines.

    • There’s no way to be certain, but Ewan ain’t exactly a flash in the pan.

      He’s been making seasoned older pros look silly ever since he showed up to the Bay Crits as a 17 year old.

      By all reports he’s a nice kid too.

      • Just in case there is any doubt, I was in no way suggesting anyone is doping – I’m just sick of many people equating any success in cycling with drug use.
        Both Ewan and Chaves seem like the genuine article with real star potential. I’m really hoping that today we will get some real wheel to wheel racing between the GC boys, and that Chaves will be right up there. Personally I’d love to see Froome win overall if for no other reason than to show that two consecutive grand tour are possible; if Froome can’t do it Chaves would be great as a winner (although I’m not holding my breath for that one).

        • Like you, I dont think chavez have doped in any way at all. BUT, when i was watching him win so well, the thought that I hoped he wasnt popped into my head. He’s such a happy, charming guy, if it turns out he does, i think ill probably cry.

  6. This year, the GC favourites are not trying many attacks on the final climbs of the 1st weeks, while in other Vuelta they did. This is maybe because most of them rode the Tour (which was very hard this year).
    In any case, this chaves is fantastic. I won’t be surprised to see him near the best ones on today’s stage. Curious to see how long he can keep the Jersey.

    I don’t see Froome doing the same ride as in pierre st martin, I think he will do it more conservatively as he is not in the same shape as in the Tour and as there is a ITT in the 3rd week where he should be the best among the favourites. My picks are Purito (he needs to attack and does not look bad) and maybe Aru. I am not sure on Quintana’s shape.

    • I feel that Quintana is playing the longer game ; he’s OK helping out Valverde on those stages that favour the Spaniard, but I think that the favour will be returned when the race hits the high peaks.
      Unless he’s been ill, he surely can’t have lost form so much – he barely raced in the lead up to the TdF, did he do any Criteriums after it ?
      As for today, it’s a bit of both.
      I expect Quintana to mark Froome and Valverde do his thing, whatever that may be.
      Chaves is the wildcard today. I love that line “whether he’s still smiling at the end of the day”. Very apt.

  7. I’m glad you mentioned Dan Martin. I am a big fan and always yearn for him to do well. But he’s been a frustrating performer this season.

    His form has generally seemed good but again and again despite strong finishes he seems to just time things wrong. It’s no good going up the fastest if you wait 30 seconds to make your move and finish 10 seconds back.

    Fear of failure? Bad positioning /placement?

    He’ll be back and looking forward to it…

    • David Millar’s commentating on the ITV highlights show and says Martin’s attacks are dictated by his physiology. He can go very lactic and very fast but only for about 5 mins, so can’t go earlier or he’d burn out before the finish. So I guess whether he wins mostly depends on when other people attack, and if they know this they’ll go sooner rather than later.

  8. The profile appears to show the final climb starting several km before the official climb starts. Is there a reason for that on this stage?

  9. I wonder if Chaves will ‘do a Horner’ this year. The year Horner won everyone was expecting the next stage to be the one where he’d finally falter and Nibali would take the lead for good, but he kept going. Obviously there is still a very long way to go before he can be seen as a potential victor but he’s looked good.

  10. I could easily be proved wrong, but I don’t think Froome has got the legs to seriously challenge for this years Vuelta, and this summit finish might be the first time his post TDF tiredness is really exposed. There’s just something about his body language, his language in interviews, and that tell-tale cough that he develops when he goes deep.

    If he attacks on the Capileira, though, i’ll get me coat…

  11. Orica are turning into my favourite team now.
    Good performers all round whether it be sprinters or climbers and everything in between.

  12. Dan Martin is the guy for Garmin right now. He’s in great position, likely given the GC light… Makes Me wonder if We’ll hear much from Talansky in the future.

    Haven’t been seeing TV… why is Talansky so far back??? I heard crashes…

    Wish Dan well.

    • Martin and Hesjudal are leaving Garmin next year so Talansky and Rolland (who just signed from Europcar) will be their GC riders for 2016. Talansky has definitely had a forgetable season thus far though. Not the progression Garmin was expecting after the promise he showed last year.

    • dunno if we will hear much from talansky in the future, but martin won’t have any effect on that, since he wil be riding for EQS next year…

      imo, likely the worst thing that could have happened to talansky was “winning” the dauphine… that gave unrealistic expectations, and gave p&p an american to “play up as a contender”… in a way, talansky is a bit of a “media creation”… he isn’t nearly as good as some would like us to believe…

      i think he can possibly win 1 week races in the future… i have zero confidence that he will ever be truly competitive across 3 weeks…

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