Vuelta Stage 19 Preview

A hilly profile but the stage is for a breakaway or the sprinters rather than a set piece showdown between Tom Dumoulin and Fabio Aru.

Stage 18 Wrap: a win for Nicolas Roche and a year when Team Sky seem to be winning everywhere as Wout Poels won a stage of the Tour of Britain at the same time. Years ago when he rode for Ag2r La Mondiale Roche briefly looked like a points jersey contender in the Tour de France because he was aggressive and could sprint well from a select group. Yesterday he outsprinted Haimar Zubeldia, the Trek Factory Racing rider who has finished high in the Tour de France but would you spot him if he walked past you on the street? He certainly keeps a low media profile. By contrast Fabio Aru was Captain Obvious as he tried some moves but it was as blatant as Vincenzo Nibali’s taxi ride moment and Dumoulin didn’t have to stress. It’s all going to come down to Saturday’s stage.

The Route: 185km as the race swings south towards Madrid and the finish. The race reaches the city of Avila with 100km to go before going out for a long loop. The first climb of the day is the Alto de Valdavia, 13km at 3% or less and a long and gradual descent too. The day’s intermediate sprint looks like it’s on a climb but the Alto de la Paramera is a long steady climb and won’t allow Aru to trounce Dumoulin, besides a breakaway should sweep through. It’s not mountainous but the lumpy roads make life hard for tired riders.

The Finish: the race runs through Avila and the road climbs up, nothing fierce but the 5-6% slopes have urban cobbles.

The Contenders: another good day for a breakaway. Who will win is another random pick among those who have been having an active Vuelta for the last 10 days and where the flat finish after a climb suits the strongmen. So think Nelson Oliveira again, Alessandro de Marchi, Mikaël Cherel, Giovanni Visconti and Adam Hansen. Otherwise there’s John Degenkolb as the “sweeper” in case of a sprint. Cofidis’ Stéphen Rossetto had a good time trial and has the engine for a ride while mountains jersey Omar Fraile can sprint from a small group too.

Degenkolb, Thomas, Oliveiera, Visconti, Rossetto, Fraile, Bouet

Weather: sunshine but mainly cloudy with a temperature of 22°C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and for links to feeds and streams.

Daily Díaz: Ávila and the Middle Ages are almost synonyms in Spain. The walls around the city, and the cathedral inside these walls, are icons of that time. A curious event happened here in 1465, known as the Farce of Ávila. Some noble families were unhappy with the rule of Henry IV of Castile: they accused him of being fond of Islam, and particularly of practising homosexuality and not being the father of the princess. These aristocrats simulated the deposition of Henry by humiliating a doll depriving it from the crown, the sword and the staff that identified him as the legitimate king of Castile. His half-­brother Alfonso, who was 11 years old at the time, was crowned instead, which led to a civil war. Eventually Henry kept the kingdom, but was forced to acknowledge Isabella, his half­-sister, as heiress to the crown of Castile. G​ame of Thrones​ in medieval Spain, as you can see on Youtube.

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

97 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 19 Preview”

  1. 18th was a great show. You never see a dogfight like that in TdF. I might be wrong but I think Aru’s attacks were a little softer now. Anyway, I think he still has a slight advantage in terms of team power and climbing ability.

    • Don’t think the climb yesterday was hard or steep enough to let Aru’s attacks count. Saturday’s stage is where he can make his acceleration tell.

    • Tom Dumoulin thought Aru’s attacks were pretty soft as well. On the post-stage interview for British TV (ITV) he said, to paraphase, as soon as he survived Aru’s first attack of the day he knew that he’d still be in red at the finish line and that Aru put everything into that first attack and afterwards didn’t have much of a punch left. It certainly showed, because Tom didn’t seem to be more than 6 inches away from Aru’s wheel for the entire last 30km, I wonder if the UCI checked to see whether he had tied himself onto Aru’s seatpost!

      On another note, it’s really refreshing to see Dumoulin’s post-race interviews. He seems to sit down and actually give the journalists some time, rather than the usual a couple of hurried soundbites that you get from the other guys whilst they’re riding back to the team bus.

  2. Aru is not going to go down without a fight but I have to say that although I am rooting for him I also have huge respect for Dumoulin’s effort. La Vuelta is the most exiting Grand Tour this year!

    “Vincenzo Nibali’s taxi ride moment” Ouch that hurt Mr Ring!

  3. A very good stage yesterday, even if no one’s attacks took flight. I loved the area, and like Diaz said yesterday, with the advantage of not being crowded, looks like the kind of area I’d like to go next holidays.
    I suppose Aru will try it again today in the entrance to Avila.

  4. More chance of Dumoulin winning time on Aru here than vice versa.
    Still don’t understand Aru. All the times today he reacted to Valverde, Purito, Nieve…. What a waste of energy. He didn’t need to react to any of them.

    • I think that it may have been in the vain hope of joining a break with a strong companion, particularly Valverde with his descending skills.
      Or perhaps Aru was testing out Dumoulin ?
      The big guy looked good though. I’d love to see him eek out a few seconds on that final climb in to Avila, although the cobbles may make it tricky.

      I read elsewhere that there may be a southerly headwind for much of the day, which will become a tailwind for the loop back north, so perhaps some late fun again ?

      Great race yesterday, even if it was like watching punch-drunk prize fighters at times, such are the fatigue levels. Degenkolb on rolleur duties too.
      Roche’s win is in keeping with his low profile, as everyone seems to be talking GC.

      Take your pick from breakaway contenders today. Perhaps Sky will have a couple up the road, as they ceded the lead in the Team race to Movistar yesterday. Might be a breakaway fight-out between those two teams.

      • I think you’re right. He probably knew that, after the first 2 km, the climb didn’t allow him to ride away alone out of pure force unless Dumoulin cracked, and that he would need anyway some good companion. Hence, he was justing tried to get away with someone else, hoping in some brief moment of pause by Tom.

    • Yes, it doesn’t read well if you don’t know the little story. I would add that today the race passes the town of El Barraco, one of the hotbeds of Spanish climbers, such as Ángel Arroyo or José María Jiménez.

  5. I am not sure I understand why Astana didn’t let Purito go. Dumoulin had more to lose there, and they could have forced him to chase. In general, I don’t understand those (generally defensive) tactics based on setting tempo in front, which Movistar are also quite adept at, when on the contrary what you need is to be on the offensive.

    • The tactics employed by both Astana and Movistar of setting a fast, steady pace on the climbs is surely playing it into the hands of Dumoulin? I believe he’s even commented after a stage that he appreciated a steady tempo as opposed to repeated accelerations.

      • Totally agree, but note that Movistar *didn’t* employ these tactics in most of the Tour’s mountain stages, where it would have been quite useful for Quintana, indeed, perhaps discouraged by LPSM where they unsuccessfully tried it (but doing that in a monoclimb stage most of the times makes little sense).
        Also note that Astana applied opposite tactics (very similar to Sky’s in many occasions and notably in this Tour: pacing the climbs but with a medium-low rhythm, hoping nobody else willl take responsibilities on the front) in the last stages of the Giro, to allow Aru to get to the final climb in the best possible conditions.
        During this Vuelta, Astana played this card very clearly both on Monday and yesterday. On Sunday Movistar was at it, while Astana saved Rosa for an acceleration when the road became steep again 3 km to go, whereas last Saturday it was all about moderate pace until Astana produced a true “crescendo” forcing on the last climb.

    • +1
      I was utterly surprised, too. It’s not the classical situation with a big buffer between 1st and 2nd in GC, both with strong teams, where the jersey wearer can leave the pressure on the 2nd classified before leadership is under menace. If Purito means a problem for Aru, it’s a problem for Dumoulin, too.
      They didn’t even check how Dumoulin would react.
      We can expect Aru to be more worried about losing this Vuelta than Dumoulin… but he’s got to get that first place before!, and Purito’s move had the potential to be very useful.
      Besides, I suspect that Aru could snatch back the jersey more easily from Rodríguez than from Dumoulin, even if Saturday is a mountain stage. Obviously, they believe otherwise – perhaps they’re right, perhaps no. Very Movistar, as you say.

      Moreover, it was essential, for Aru, to arrive at the final climb with at least a strong climber who could force ritmo before Aru’s direct attack. But Landa faded… Rosa could maybe serve, but only if you brought him to the last climb with the freshest legs, not using him in pacing duties.
      The right place to drop Dumoulin was 10 km before the start of the final climb. During the final climb it was first couple of kms or nothing. But Tom can easily hang on some 2 km, even more so when the rest of the climb suits him that much.

      • Agreed: the right place to drop Dumoulin was 10km before the climb or in the begin of the climb. And I will add to this that the Puerto de Cotos, last climb on Saturday, will also suit dumoulin perfectly. It is very steady and not very steep. Next to that, there are 7km flat before descending when in the top.
        The right place to drop him on saturday is la Morcuera, the climb before Cotos.

        • Yes – and there is an intermediate sprint after la Morcuera (you surely meant ‘Morkuera’?), so there is the possibility for Astana to hold a break in check and Aru take that.
          Hopefully, Dumoulin will attack today and Aru will go for this attack on Sat.
          Or they both just sit there, being conservative…

          • La paramera is the “rouleur” style of climb: not steep and on wide road. The downhill to Avila is long and with not much gradient. Maybe should Dumoulin try something there.

      • Surely Astana are chasing Purrito and AV because Aru’s 100% confident he can take 3 seconds from Dumoulin on Saturday. He’s worrying about the climbers and thinks (rightly) that he has Dumoulin in the bag.

  6. Really enjoyed yesterdays stage great to see Aru trying something … anything however i suspect he was playing to the gallery not wanting to be accused of not trying by the tifosi, I wonder how much it has taken out of him? Maybe he would be better minded to look where he has hurt Dumoulin during this Vuelta and wait for an all out attack where he has an advantage.

    I am no Aru / Astana hater but I am all in now for Dumoulin,
    what a nice Guy
    what a nice surprise
    what are we going to do when the GT’ are over?

    inring – I have really enjoyed the Daily Diaz and of course your writing

  7. I think the real difference between dumoulin and Aru is intelligent racing…whatever Aru’s talent and ability I question his ability to be great. Dumoulin on the other hand seems to totally understand himself and refuses to let others dictate his race, in that way he reminds me of froome. It’s great the way the end of this year’s veulta is playing out with a handful of seconds separating two very different riders with no stage offering a big advantage to either’s strength.

    • +1. The Bernard Hinault triumph is cycling history for sure, but my memories go to the unforgettable ride of Franck Vandenbroucke. I know this was another era (…), but he did it with such a style.
      First, he climbed all the Navalmorral in front of the bunch and litterally destroyed it. When Piepoli tried to attack, he didn’t even allow him to get a meter, outrode all the favourites and finished the climb solo.
      Second, when his DS asked him to wait for the group with the favourites who was riding behind him, he just answered to Alain Bondue “how do you want me to win?”. Then he waited for the group.
      Third, the avila walls moment. I remember to see Zarrabeitia becoming just a point in the bottom of the image in just a few second time. VDB began celebrating 1km before the finish.

      PS: besides Hinault and VDB, I think jalabert also did a fantastic stage to Avila in the Vuelta he won.

  8. Shows how much of a circus the TdF is. I haven’t seen many aspersions being cast or doping questions or urine throwing incidents in the Vuelta so far, despite Dumoulin’s performance being truly standout and unexpected.

    • Some of the usual crowd on twitter have been vocal, although the Radcliffe/IAAF stuff seems to have drawn their attention . Funny how the Giro was blasted and then all the controversy at the tour, but nothing much now, as if teams would dope for one GT, but not another!

      At the end of the day, I’ve enjoyed all three GTs this year.

    • The month of Jul and the Tour gets some of those characters the highest ROI in terms of RTs etc. And hits to Ross Tucker’s website. And of course in Vayer’s case, he gets paid by Le Monde for his…cough… ‘penmanship’ – in Jul.

        • I agree about the episode being an invention is probably pure conspiranoia (however, we’ve got various photoes of people spitting on Froome and the piss thing wouldn’t be pure novelty, either).
          That said, it’s pretty clear what he’d gain with that: reversing the charge on those accusing him of doping. “Look what the press did!”. This way he (better said, SKY) put in the same basket both the absurd watt theories and any possible legitimate questioning, discrediting the public doubters and taking a stance as victims of some too-hot-a-media-campaign. They reminded me of Berlusconi, when some madman hit him with a Duomo statuette and he accused the supposedly left-wing media (he owns or controls the vast majority of them) of having created an hatred campaign against him.
          Truth is that people idiotic enough to do such things did them to Lance when most media were on his side, both outside and inside France, or to Cavendish when no specific media hatred campaign was on (at least, not that I know, that is nor in Italy nor in Spain… nor on CN).

        • It is totally legitim to ask that question: In cycling we all had that before – and more: remember Cavendish and the warm water (or not warm water?) or the spectator who was said to have attacked Gino Bartali with a knife (either that or he prepared his sandwich). I wouldn’t be in the least surprised, if in five years it would emerge in a biography that it wasn’t urine.

  9. I’m amazed that the stylists – who constantly criticise Froome’s ‘bat flailing in a lake’ riding style – have failed to comment anywhere near as much on Aru’s ‘wounded donkey’.
    Perhaps other riders could liven up races by adopting such idiosyncratic techniques.

    • ‘Wounded donkey’ is too similar to ‘wounded giraffe’, inrng’s TM for Hesjedal.
      However, Aru is highly inelegant but not as tragic as Froome. At least he’s got some *alternating* symmetry ^___^
      His main stylistic problem when seated is the oscillation of his head, when out of the saddle the obvious sway from side to side of the bicycle. OTOH, the legs and the ‘core’ (abdomen, pelvis and the back’s relative positions) look fine.
      Comparing him with Hesjedal, I’d say that in nautical terms Aru is rolling, Hejsedal both rolling and pitching, hence the wounded giraffe effect.
      Ryder (like Froome) also tends to sink his head down between his shoulders, like someone who had a cramp while shrugging. Aru, more often than not, keeps his ears far from the shoulder, with a decent neck extension, contributing to a generally better organised back, meaning a more effective action when all the body is involved (out of the saddle).

        • The good thing about ‘smiley donkey’ (some Shrek thing?) is that donkeys are very typical in Sardegna, still I see him more like a camel (‘camel race’ in youtube): the big eyes, the elongated face, the long and skinny legs, the jaw sometimes going sideways; they’re known for swaying, too… and the smile, of course 😀

      • Froome is an extremely awkard looking, in/unellegant person just in general. His limbs are just way too long for his body. It always surprises me that he has a girlfriend! Aru at least looks normal off a bike. It’s fairly unusual in sport that people who look bad at something are good at it, form usually powering function. I suppose in a sport where its largely down to your engine, rather than technique, you can overcome dodgy form with power.

        • Having met Froome he’s a perfectly normal looking person. “It always surprises me that he has a girlfriend!” really??? is this the school playground?
          The top level of sport is littered with the most elegant sportsmen and women who never quite reach the top and those with slightly wonky looking technique who crush all – Michael Johnson and Usan Bolt to name two.

  10. Aru needs to go on a long range attack on Sat. I know I always say this, but that’s the only thing that might break Dumoulin (who I, personally, would like to see win).

      • Yes, but he’s going to need a super-performace by his team to do all that. First eliminate all of Dumoulin’s teammates along the first two climbs (and Morcuera north is not a 1st category climb, it is not steep at all). Then he’s going to need help to carry him through the top of the Morcuera (it’s 2km a plateau, slightly downhill, usually with a lot of headwind, ideal for Dumoulin to catch up), then up Cotos, and crucially across the 6km flat between Cotos and Puerto de Navacerrada). If Landa is in business mode, he should take off on the ramp crossing Miraflores (Dumoulin won’t chase, otherwise he’s dead), and then Aru jump all-out in the sixth kilometer from there (when you get to 1.500m altitude), or at the very latest in the last 500m near the top the Morcuera (but that’s where the headwind blocks you). If he manages to meet Landa atop the Morcuera, at least he can make it to the bonus seconds in Rascafría (but that descent is tricky, narrow and dangerous). And then a power cronoescalada on Cotos, and hope for the best. The last descent (Navacerrada) is wider, but last time I was there last month, the surface was in a terrible state. I don’t know if they will have redone it for the Vuelta.
        It can be done, but it is very difficult, as there are only 3 points in the Morcuera where Aru could drop Dumoulin, and none in Cotos.

    • I don’t think we saw anything that serious yesterday. Vino must have a much more pointed plan than attacking repeatedly on a 5% grade over 10k followed by a decent (not Aru’s strength).

  11. I think what would make Saturday really interesting is if Katusha and/or Movistar tried to go all-in to win the race. Both teams have a second rider in the top 10, and within 3-4 minutes of the lead. If they repeatedly fire Valverde/Quintana and Moreno up the road, then they can force Giant *AND* Astana to chase.

    If he last 2km cobbles are rough enough, think Dumoulin should try to power away and gain a couple of seconds. It may prove vital if he’s chasing back on the last descent tomorrow.

    • A good idea, but Movistar are never that brave. As you say, they have nothing to lose, but knowing them they’ll focus on the team competition and Valverde winning the points jersey (did you see him sprinting yesterday?).

      • It does seem that many teams and especially Movistar really value the team prize and their top 10 positions over the potential for a win.

        When I finally win the Euromillions and become the new Tinkov I’m going to give my riders a contract that says I don’t care if you come 14th after being 4th on GC if you lose it going all out for the win 😉

        • Come on, we’re not talking anymore about the Vuelta win for Valverde and/or Quintana. So why not go for the team competition? I like that they value this competition. Winning it means the whole team gets to go on the podium, it means every rider is named and not just one winner. It is great for the sponsors and I think it is good for the team. Actually, I think it is good for the sport, too. Much better than the old/LA-way of all for one (actually not so old, enough examples still in the WT). Although, if we would still talk about a win of the Vuelta, the situation would be different with Movistar, too.

          • I was joking a little in my idea and I do understand all the reasons why a team would go for the Team Competition. But Movistar won the team compt at the tour this year and although I remember that now I cant say many people will in 2 or 3 years time. They would certainly remember the dramatic last gasp win via giant solo attack. The same applies here at the Vuelta

            I also think for riders like Valverde or Rodriguez, who have earnt enough in their careers and are big enough names to not worry too much about the differences in prize money or contract bargaining power that a top 10 place offers, should be risking more.

            Having said all that, they may all being trying as hard as possible and they just don’t have the legs. Its been a tough race and tough season for many. Really enjoying this race so shouldn’t complain too much.

          • Movistar’s obsession with the team prize and multiple podium positions possibly cost Quintana the Tour. From the start of the season it was obvious that NQ should do the Tour and Valverde the Vuelta. Had they done that, two victories were very possible. I can’t see how coming third in the Tour even approaches winning the Vuelta (possibly) – especially for someone who has had AV’s career. His ego should have taken a step down and he should have acknowledged that he had no chance of winning the Tour. As for the team prize, that’s never meant anything. The sponsors like it because it’s a good photo op.

          • The team prize means nothing because the team gets some of the credit for the overall win – a good part of it – whereas to win the team prize all you need to do is be reasonably good and put riders in the big breakaways to gain a lot of time (hence Movistar were almost an hour ahead of everyone else in the Tour). It’s a novelty at best.

  12. I feel so sorry for the riders-almost 3 weeks and then such a day like today. Alexis Gougeard is really great. Tiago Machado must be cursing him.

  13. “I never had any doubt that I could follow Aru and resist his attacks,” Dumoulin said. “After what we saw in Thursday’s stage, I know that I can follow Aru. I only have three seconds for three stages, one for each stage. The key is not to lose sight of Aru. I need to stay glued to his wheel and hold on to Madrid.”
    This strategy is certainly effective as we’ve seen it time and time again, but exciting it is NOT!
    I’ll be cheering for Aru on Saturday even if he makes some crazy, suicidal attack and loses 2nd place. FORZA FABIO!

      • That was like good ol’ Italy scoring in contropiede after a fine display of catenaccio ^__^

        Jokes apart, Dumoulin isn’t doing anything different than what he’s required to in order to win. And I don’t know if I would have been a lot happier if I saw him, say, go out alone on the attack on Cobertoria to take a solo stage win! He must be appreciated for how he’s playing what is and must be his game.
        It’s Aru who should maybe regret not having been offensive enough in the very few occasions offered by this monotonous monoclimb Vuelta. However, he was without doubt the most attacking rider thanks to his Andorra move. In the Ermita del Alba stage he was perhaps having a bad day, which he saved in style, or he’s lost an attacking occasion. Yesterday he was on the offensive, that can’t be denied, but the tactics weren’t probably the best ones.

        • Hear hear.
          It’s interesting now it’s close, but I’m dumbfounded by the number of people saying that this has been a great race – most of the stages up to the time trial were utterly dull.

    • It seems you have been watching a different race – it is now 6 sec for one stage, and that lead was extended by a clever attack into Avila, where Degenkolb and Craddock buried themselves to establish a gap to Aru and Dumoulin powered on to gain a bit of time and show everyone who is boss. Astana were all over the place, Aru was left to fend for himself. I sure hope Dumoulin will keep his jersey tomorrow (but as I’m Dutch there’s no surprise).

        • To be honest, he refused to take a shift when asked and only went seriously on the front for the final rush. Besides, pulling (maybe, even pulling a little more!) was in his direct interests, since he’s tracking Meintjes by less than a minute. MTN took on a huge undue workload to defend that 10th place yesterday, I can’t see how Pozzovivo shouldn’t be equally interested in attacking it.

          What is more, isn’t that the same Pozzovivo to whom Dumoulin owes his whole chances of being up there fighting for the Vuelta? The guy who, despite a bad day or completely misjudging his state of form or burning himself out in the making, brought back the isolated Dumoulin on the front only to lose some 5′ on the final climb? He must have some sort of double passport.

    • Not Exiciting? For you maybe.
      I was all excited yesterday about TD countering the attacks. And I was excited today when Dege and Craddock delivered a classy leadout uphill for Dumuolin, and the likes of Astana , Movistar were blown away, no Chavez or Rodriguez had the power to counter that.
      After the last 2 days, I begib to believet Dumoulin can win that. And if not, doesn’t matter, he made it an exciting race. I just hope that it will be Purito, not Aru, who beats him.

  14. Dumoulin did everything right. Poor tactics by Aru – where’s the brain? He should have been glued to TD’s back wheel – he was a few riders back when TD started his – inevitable – attack. If Dani Moreno could manage to stick with TD, then Aru should have been able to.
    Could be a vital 3 seconds: now Aru cannot overtake TD in the GC solely from winning tomorrow’s intermediate sprint – he needs a gap at the finish.
    Was Valverde trying to gain time (on Quintana for 5th) or going for the points? I’d say the former, as he’d have been better off just leaving it until the sprint, if it was just for the points.
    The points jersey holds little interest when it’s fought between the GC contenders – because it’s not really a different contest. And that also means the combined jersey is pointless. They need to re-jig the points jersey, a la the Tour de France (at least a little bit).
    As Matt says above, either Valverde or Quintana should go ultra-long tomorrow and try to win the race. A very long shot, but they have nothing to lose except 5th place. Rodriguez could try the same, but that’s even less likely and – if he has the form – Quintana would have a much better chance of succeeding.

    • I think the other riders in the Movistar Team see this very different. They all would loose the bonusses and would leave three weeks of hard racing almost (at least Valverde did win a stage) emptyhanded.

        • My point is, that maybe it isn’t conservatism, but simply another, maybe a changing, point of view. As far as cycling goes, the ultraconservative and old team objectives/structures are: You have a leader and 8 others, sacrificing everything for that leader. Going for the team competition and putting weight on that, is the opposite of that. The team competition is one win, just like winning the race or the mountain competition etc.. I read an interview (by Knees, I think) after today’s stage, where he said, he didn’t get far, because the two Movistar riders in the break went for the team competition and one sacrificed himself to reel Knees in, so Sky could not get closer in the team competition. So it seems the team has decided, that this is their objective and they work toward that. Every rider. I like it. And who knows, just like the KOM looses weight, maybe the team competition gains importance and in 5 years there is a real fight for it. If you can say, we were the best team in 10 GTs for example, that’s a great slogan and a great platform. And maybe in 5 years being part of a team that won a team competition, will also finally get part of the palmares.

          • As I say above:
            The team prize means nothing because the team gets some of the credit for the overall win – a good part of it – whereas to win the team prize all you need to do is be reasonably good and put riders in the big breakaways to gain a lot of time (hence Movistar were almost an hour ahead of everyone else in the Tour). It’s a novelty at best.

          • Because the team comp. only measures the first 3 riders on each stage – and not overall times – it’s little more than a gimmick (a small, extra thing to provide a modicum of interest).
            That’s not conservative; it’s just obvious from how bike tactics are.
            Winning the team comp. in no way makes you the best team.
            It just makes you the team who put guys in the break.

          • Or maybe none of that happens outside of your head. Maybe people won’t forget decades of cycling history to suddenly decide that a largely arbitrary team competition is the most important thing in the race. Maybe only the sponsor ‘Movistar’ cares. Maybe the team have thrown away two potential GT victories this season. And maybe, just maybe, in 5 years’ time no-one will know or care who won the team comp. in 2015, same as we feel now about 2010 and every other year.

      • That’s clear enough! For Valverde, everything seems to be about finishing above Quintana in GC. The sad or curious thing is that Quintana looks quite “fond” of Valverde, it looks like he’s sincerely interested in supporting him, sees him as a reference and so on. Another POV might be that Valverde is someone who tends to fight for his chances in every last occasion, at least in stage racing and when he’s really focused, have a look to the last stage of 2012 Vuelta… (the thing equally tends to look like a bit personal, indeed).

        • It’s often quite hard to understand what and whom Valverde attacks. And I guess this sentence could be heard by his DS and teammates also. He may ask himself if he lays in the hotel bed at night and rewatch the stage.

          David Millar put it to a point in his tweet today: “Valverde raced like an over excited junior, bloody brilliant” Last part maybe sarcasm….

  15. Little historical flashback: Tom Dumoulin currently has six seconds lead. If he maintains it to the end, it will equal the closest Vuelta ever, won by another 24 year old somewhat against pre-race predictions – Eric Caritoux, in 1984.

    Or are we due a repeat of the following year’s race, with a successful ambush on the penultimate day by a rider low down in the classification while the leader marked the second place rider a few seconds behind him?


  16. A beautiful win by Alexis Gougeard. He’s a young TT specialist just like TomD.

    Aru again looks like he’s fading just a little bit. He could have changed the overall game by taking only 4 seconds in the final. I think that was his master plan for today. That would have forced TomD to attack tomorrow. Now it’s all topsy-turvy again. Surely, Aru will not give up without a fight. Like everyone else here I’m staying in front of my telly tomorrow.

    Besides, I really, really love the Daily Diaz.

    • I just hope the two Alexises of Ag2r don’t get too hyped and won’t be the next victims on the search for the next soandso (insert whoever you think is the best or most important or most aggressive or most stylish or…). France has some really exciting young riders – the next years will be great for them – and for us watching them.

  17. As some of us had previously pointed out, today’s finish was perfect for Dumoulin, not that good for Aru.
    No surprise Tom attacked and scratched a few important seconds.
    It’s quite logical that Aru finds himself on the back foot on unfavourable terrain, what was surprising was yesterday’s capability by Tom to reply to every acceleration in the corresponding situation, that is, the steepest part of the last climb (something no one else was able to do).
    Nothing strange in what followed that first couple of km, anyway, and I wouldn’t have been surprised, either, if Tom had lost some hundreds meters just to come back later, but there isn’t quite evidently a full symmetry between the current state of form of the two athletes: Dumoulin is now able to perform beyond expectations even on unfavourable ground (the so called jersey’s power, as commonly seen in cycling), Aru is exposed to fail and counter-attacks. He needs to play it smart and team-wise, something Astana hasn’t been precisely doing all year long…

    • In the situation now, Aru can only loose: If he wins the Vuelta, it is “no big thing, to be expected, because Dumoulin in the end is not a climber”, if he looses, well.. Twitter and the net won’t be a nice place for Astana and Aru for a few days. If he goes on suicidal attacks, “he is foolish and not smart enough” and when he plays the waiting game, “he is not brave and strong enough”. Whatever he does, he can’t really win. Which means, if you think about it, he has the freedom to do whatever he wants to do. But of course, I know: that is not the way the team and he will be thinking. I hope all the GC contenders sleep well tonight, the anticipation and fear must be crushing. As for today: The outcome of today was to be expected. If Giant and Dumoulin can’t do it here as a team, where then?

  18. More help for Tom tomorrow, and this time it could be more relevant than Lotto-Jumbo:

    @tinkoff_saxo Go tomorrow and help @GiantAlpecin ! Let Tom win! F[**]k Astana and Katyusha for their Martirollo attack

    Guess who’s the author? (Martirollo? How many vodkas do you need to type that?).

      • Surprised too but those remarks look non-trivial, as he is talking specifics about future competition. Who knows what goes on among the Russian-boss contingent…hopefully Putin won’t have to get involved.

        • That’s it. Tactics may decide the race tomorrow and even if I don’t think that TCS will necessarily race according to what their *patron* states, I thought that it might be of some interest, like the declarations from Lotto-Jumbo I reported previously, especially since Martinelli was, on the contrary, expecting some help from Majka (don’t know exactly why).

          Besides, I must be sincere, “Martirollo” was simply irresistible ^__^

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