The only solo time trial of the Vuelta was designed to rebalance the overall classification late in the race and the scenario couldn’t be closer with time trial expert Tom Dumoulin needing to take two minutes on his rivals to see red again.
The Route: a start and finish in Burgos. There is some elevation but this is a course for powerful riders and specialists who can use their refined aerodynamic positions to speed along the long straight sections of this course. Much of the route is very exposed meaning the slightest breeze can be felt; the plains around the roads have farms for wheat, sunflowers… and wind with giant wind turbines dotted across. The roads out in the countryside undulate more than the profile suggests and apparently Fabio Aru was delighted to discover this. They climb up in the town of Burgos to the 5km to go sign before a twisting route to the finish line.
The Contenders: Tom Dumoulin is a top pick for the stage win, indeed it’s easy to keep listing him as a time trial specialist when as the Vuelta is showing he can do so much more. Normally he’d be an even stronger pick for the stage win but his daily fights must mean more fatigue.
Looking at the other contenders there are not many more specialists given Fabian Cancellara and Chris Froome have left. Vasil Kiryienka is a strong rider who took his first TT win in the Giro’s time trial stage to Valdobbiane earlier this year. Luis-Leon Sanchez was another surprise performer that day and could shine again. Previously a GC contender Jurgen Van den Broeck has been saving himself for today’s test but a win would be a big surprise.
A stage win for Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) would be a surprise pick before the race started but he’s been looking very strong and crucially he’s had the energy to keep going in moves suggesting he’s in great shape. He’s Portual’s TT champion. I’m curious to see what Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quickstep) does, he’s a strong rouleur who has been visible in this race and would be a better pick for a 15-20km effort rather than today’s longer ride. Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) is another rouleur who can do the classics but he too might find this stage too long. Jerôme Coppel (IAM Cycling) used to be a rising time trial talent but hasn’t quite kept the momentum going but this an ideal day for him to make the top-10 while team mate Sylvain Chavanel could win TTs at this level before but seems to be a declining force these days. Trek Factory Racing’s Markel Irizar has hovered outside the top-1o in TTs before, he could go better today. Steven Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) is a strong rider with TT wins to his name. Cameron Meyer (Orica-Greenedge) is a strong rouleur ad finally younger team Damian Howson could upstage him, the former U23 TT World Champion in 2014 continues his progress and the dark horse pick, fourth in the time trial stage of the recent Tour of Poland.
As for the others who won’t win, a few comments:
- Joaquim Rodriguez can find ways to save time when it matters, see the 2012 Vuelta for example when he made the top-10 in the 39.4km TT to Pontevedra. It was hillier then but he’s not terrible
- Rafał Majka won the 2014 Tour of Poland after defending his overall lead in the final time trial, he has a good all round engine
- Fabio Aru should be able to limit his losses too, he’s usually finishing in the top quartile of the field and has been working more and more on his pacing and aerodynamics. He was 21st in the Borja time trial of last year’s Vuelta
|Vasil Kiryienka, L-L Sanchez
|Howson, Oliveira, Cummings, Coppel
Weather: warm temperatures of 27°C and a light 10km/h breeze from the south-east.
Daily Díaz: Welcome to Burgos, home to the 2.HC Vuelta a Burgos. There is a 2.1 Vuelta a Castilla y León, too, which may need some explanation. Which is the territorial structure of Spain? In the lowest level, municipios (municipalities). There are over 8,000 all over the country. Next come the provincias (provinces), which are 50 in total, each one with dozens of municipalities inside. Finally the comunidades autónomas (autonomous communities), there are 17 of these, formed by at least one province each. Most provinces bear the name of their most important city: Burgos is a municipality, but also the name of the province where the 2.HC race takes place. Burgos province is inside the Castile and León (2.1 Vuelta) autonomous community. The funny fact is that a province (Burgos) can sustain a 2.HC stage race, while the autonomous community it belongs to (Castile and León) has to settle with a 2.1 race.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel