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Vuelta Stage 20 Preview

The final mountain stage of the Vuelta a España and the last throw of the dice for Fabio Aru and Astana who want to dislodge Tom Dumoulin from the top step of the podium in Madrid tomorrow.

Stage 19 Wrap: A stage win for Alexis Gougeard. The neo-pro still had the power in reserve after a busy opening week going in the breaks. His problem if we can call it as such is his endless energy. This has been an issue for his team where they’ve struggled to focus him and contain his instinct to attack. Behind in a lively run into Avila Tom Dumoulin took time on Fabio Aru. The three second gain is symbolic more than real in that Dumoulin has shown he can still punch past the others rather than being reduced to following the wheels. He’ll have slept better last night.

The Route: almost an out and back route as the race heads out on one road and then returns on it for much of the way back to the finish so when you see the Puerto de Navacerrada and the Puerto de Morcuera listed twice each time it’s once up and then down each side rather than the same climb twice. At 175km this isn’t a short sprinty stage but the pointy profile doesn’t quite make this a full mountain stage, the climbs are moderate. They’re 10km long and 5-6% and little more, a few steep sections but nothing wild. Note the intermediate sprint at 141.5km and its 3-2-1 second time bonuses.

The final climb of the Puerto de Cotos is a gentle climb of 10km at 5.5% and the steep gradients mentioned in the profile above must be the max measurable for the briefest of moments as it’s not so steep. It’s chased by a 7km flat section before the descent, ideal for Tom Dumoulin to hunt down Fabio Aru.

The Finish: after a long descent the road rises to the finish line. There’s a sharp bend with 500m to go and then the road kicks up with a short steep rise to the line. Not enough to make six seconds difference but with time bonuses in play it’ll be close.

The Contenders: a good chance we get two races for the price of one with a breakaway going clear from the start and then the GC riders clashing afterwards. Astana may want to rip up the race but they can’t afford to do this too early otherwise they’re isolated, better to start the fireworks on the second climb back to the Puerto de Morcuera. They’ll hope that a lot of hungry teams fight hard to go clear prompting a raging battle from the start. If a move drifts clear without trouble then it’s advantage Dumoulin.

Alejandro Valverde was looking frisky yesterday and now he can bide his time and try to snipe the stage win after marking the others on the climbs. He’s the obvious pick for his combination of climbing and sprinting. If not Joaquim Rodriguez might have a consolatory stage win and there’s a chance for Esteban Chaves and Rafał Majka. Given Tom Dumoulin must only follow the moves he’s freed from taking risks, wasting energy and being chased down so if he can sit tight he could be a stage winner too. It’s hard to see Fabio Aru winning because he may want to use up his energy before the finish in order to dislodge Dumoulin. Otherwise see Alessandro de Marchi, Nicolas Roche, Vasil Kiryienka, Rodolfo Torres and for some breakaway suggestions.

How to beat Tom Dumoulin? Normally Astana would crank up the pace climbs before trying to launch Fabio Aru but this linear, predictable method is no way to shake the stoic Dutchman off Aru’s wheel. Instead Astana need to fire riders up the road and then have Aru use them as relay points, no sooner do they get 50 metres then he can jump across and then get a tow. It’s the stop-start action that might prove too much for Dumoulin but hill-reps are hard enough on a good day with fresh legs, yet alone on a 175km mountain stage after three weeks of racing at the end of a long season.

Alejandro Valverde
Joaquim Rodriguez, Rafał Majka
Dumoulin, Aru, Roche, Kiryienka

Weather: a cool and cloudy start with the sun appearing later and a top temperature of 19°C with a 20km/h wind from the SW.

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

Daily Díaz: Several mountain passes communicate both parts of Spain’s Inner Plateau across the Central System (S​ierra de Madrid,​ as locals call it): Navacerrada, Morcuera and Cotos are just three of them. These roads have been in use since the Roman Empire times, and in the 20th century new highways were projected, only to realize that digging tunnels was, actually, quite a good idea. In today’s picture you can see a hypsometric curve of Spain, where you can check that 90 % of the country is over 200 m above sea level, 50 % is over 700 m, 20 % is over 1,000 m, and 5 % over 1,400 m. Remember, Spain is a mountainous country, although its highest peak is not in the mainland, but in the Canary Islands.

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.

  • GALP Saturday, 12 September 2015, 7:52 am

    Any Jury news on the Aru-LL Sanchez handsling move yesterday? Clearly visible on video?!

  • Martirollo Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:09 am

    Yeee-haw! It’s 9 am in Saturday morning and I’m already feeling hypsometric. Great Daily Diaz again. Morcuera sounds a bit like Martirollo so it must be there that the fireworks begin. Still so many hours until 5 pm. More ice, less vodka. Abslolutely NO lemon.

  • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:29 am

    Jury is studying new (and far clearer) footage this morning of the Aru push incident. Can’t imagine he’ll escape punishment. Hope 10 seconds. Might make the gap too big to bridge.
    Otherwise, much as it pains me to say this, think Aru will win this.

    • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:01 am

      How clear is the new footage? The stuff I saw yesterday suggested it, but didn’t show it.
      It would be a shame to see the race decided by a punishment, but how could Aru/Astana be so stupid – particularly after the Nibali incident? I’d find it hard to sympathise. I suspect they’ll do n0thing, though – terrible for the race.

  • Vectis Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:50 am

    With regards to Aru’s misdemeanour,much rather this race was decided on the road than in some office.

    • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:56 am

      Can’t disagree more. That would only play into the hands of teams *LIKE ASTANA* who are far more willing to be flexible with the rule of law.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:24 pm

        EVERY team cheats, even your team.

  • dave Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:58 am

    no penalty for Aru.

    • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 9:20 am

      Reassessing it at 10 this morning, so…

  • the real jhutch Saturday, 12 September 2015, 9:02 am

    Clearly the magnitude of help given to Aru is far less than that given to Nibali but I would hate to see him win overall by a couple of seconds; the couple of second he didn’t loose by taking the help. I’d equally hate the race to over this morning due to a jury decision. Whilst this is clear not allowed one rider giving another a shove forward is very different from a D’s towing a rider from one group to another. Let’s just hope for a thrilling conclusion to today’s racing.

  • trebielk Saturday, 12 September 2015, 9:04 am

    UCI rules, 2.3.012: The pushing of one rider by another shall in all cases be forbidden, on pain
    of disqualification. Easy one for the commissaires.

  • dave Saturday, 12 September 2015, 9:13 am

    Would have been a shame (similar too Porte wheel change penalty) and likely no advantage was really gained but Aru is quite lucky to escape. He also seemed to dodge the sort of hysteria Contador/Froome/Nibali would have been at the centre of were it them in this scenario.

    Astana are doing themselves no favours with such casual attitude to mid-race cheating, you can’t help but wonder whether it extends to more serious forms of cheating with their particular history. (I wonder slightly whether the pressure from above to perform is pushing them into these vaguely desperate rushes of blood, which again might push nervous riders over the edge into the forbidden?)

    Obvs Froome took the gel in 2013, knew the punishment, and it wasn’t a good look, but taking out all the many many suspicions of Sky and others, just because of Astana’s recent and past records you can’t help but view them with more suspicion.

    Anyway….. Dumoulin should win this, he’s clearly the strongest rider. He also looks to be getting stronger as Aru weakens. But who knows what might happen today.

    Someone mentioned about him the eye candy in the Peloton – this pic says it all! https://41.media.tumblr.com/d790b6d86a466e070c410faa8bff0c9a/tumblr_nr335aoHKb1ropreyo1_1280.jpg

    Heart throb without doubt. Not a bad addition to cycling’s current Mount Rushmore, although sorry to TVG, you’re about to be beaten to the punch in making it into the Fab Five.

    Luckily Dumoulin’s also seems to be a great bloke to boot.

  • Vectis Saturday, 12 September 2015, 9:18 am

    On the road it is then.

  • irungo txuletak Saturday, 12 September 2015, 10:26 am

    It is not an easy stage, but really not extreme climbing neither. The 2 most difficult parts are navacerrada (but it comes in the beginning) and the second Morcuera. Cotos is at least as easy as la Quesera, and you still have 7km flat after that. I don’t think it will be possible for Aru to drop DUmoulin there. That should be tried before and all this sounds very complicated.

  • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 10:27 am

    No penalty for Aru, just decided, which on the basis of this https://twitter.com/LondonDynaslow/status/642613835199873024
    Is absolutely incredible.

    • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:07 am

      There probably should have been a penalty – although I’d have kept it to 10 seconds.
      Prior to this, I was fairly neutral about who I’d like to see win – with a slight preference for Dumoulin. That neutrality is long gone.
      Some riders just can’t stop cheating – big or small.

      • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:10 am

        I don’t like Aru, he seems to be from the Valverde/Nibali school of deviousness, but I think it is the sword of Damokles hanging above him that is the problem: Vino. I think the reason Astana systematically skirt the law is because they are pushed to do so, and as a rider, especially a young one like Aru, saying no can be very difficult.

        • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:25 am

          Fandom makes people build up funny narratives. *Deviousness*? o__O

          • Pot-Kettle Saturday, 12 September 2015, 2:51 pm

            Fandom also makes people build up funny anti-narratives.

          • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:42 pm

            Pot-Kettle – pointless comments not about cycling: your opinion there is worth nothing.

        • dave Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:32 am

          true on Vino, but super harsh on Nibali & Valverde –

          Nibali as far as I can see has been fine up until a few mistakes this year where he’s maybe lost his marbles (maybe due to Astana pressure see above) – what other examples are there from his career of deviousness? If it is only these recent mistakes, he doesn’t deserve too much hate we all make mistakes.

          Also deviousness is okay as long as it’s not cheating? I don’t dislike riders for lets say feigning tiredness, no collaborating etc?

          In the case of Valverde – yes is hard not to dislike for absolute radio silence re-doping – but taking that out of it, other than being a little self centred, his tactics haven’t been devious to the point of cheating have they? He’s just generally played the game pretty well hasn’t he? Or is this all on the World Champs incident with Rodriguez? I suppose he’s not been great to team mates in general, but not devious, I can’t help but wonder if annoyance with him and his tactics are wrapped up in him being dislikable in general as opposed to devious.

          Vino obviously was devious!!!! (payments etc) so no argument.

          Aru…… he doesn’t seem that bad, pretty genuine competitor from what I can see, his slightly ill timed but all in efforts are quite endearing? And the hand sling can be a moment of madness similar to that Colombian getting in the car at the TDF. To have even been in this position in the first place must be the result of a lot of hard work and talent, and his TT the other day was exceptional so would be a real shame to have lost today’s competition for something that was very unlikely to have helped significantly.

          Also doubt the Vuelta could afford to kill today’s potential fireworks and audience figures with a decision like that, but obviously he should have been punished at least 10secs.

          Or is peoples Aru hate mixed up with the doping accusations?

          D

          • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:57 am

            Deviousness is indeed a (few) steps down from cheating. And I totally understand other people like it: I just don’t. I don’t like feigning tiredness, biking away on descents when people are closing their jackets, attacking when people have a mechanical, etc. Personal choice.

          • dave Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:09 pm

            yeah attacking during a mechanical, agreed no fine, biking away when jackets are being closed bit more grey but both in devious bracket – feigning tiredness? surely part of the psychological game? isn’t that a skill in itself and part of being great cyclist? I don’t put that in devious.

            In saying all this has Valverde ever attacked during a mechanical?

            Nibali did this year but he was a mile off going for a stage win?

            Contador in 2010 was close to inexcusable I agree it was exceptionally poor – actually think Contador is more devious than either of the above!

            Suspect those who are supposedly whiter than white Cancellara/Wiggo/Froome/Quintana do things we don’t see also……

          • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:12 pm

            Valverde was guilty of a hand sling just after he came back from his ban – I remember Inner Ring pointed it out (TDU?) – he went on to win the stage.
            However, as with Nibali and Aru, I don’t think these incidents prove any deviousness. No more than Froome’s gel.
            This is the same as the Porte incident: if you leave it unpunished then you open the door for others to do the same. Two minutes was probably a bit harsh on Porte, but that was what was in the rules. Anything more than 10 or so seconds might be harsh on Aru, but I don’t know what the rules say. Doing nothing means that Dumoulin can now be slung up the road today, if necessary.
            Cycling really needs to uphold its rules.

          • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:21 pm

            How different was Contador’s chain-related attack to CSC powering away, with A Schleck following Cancellara, after AC had been caught behind the crashing F Schleck on the pave stage?
            Or Cancellara neutralising the race whilst in the yellow jersey after A Schleck had crashed (amongst many others) on a downhill (thus costing Hushovd the green jersey in the end)?
            Yes, Schleck’s was ‘a mechanical’, but I’ve heard it said that this was caused by his bad ‘bikemanship’ and/or not having a bit on his bike to stop the chain coming off (as you can tell, I know precisely nothing about bike tech nor ‘bikemanship’ – not even knowing the correct term for this).

          • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:39 pm

            Cancellara whiter than white? That shows pretty well how hard it is to shape a consistent image of how a rider is (on his bike) and what he does. Stopping the peloton out of mere sheriff attitude, favouring his road captain, then going flat out when the following days things got reversed? Playing the negative game against single riders he doesn’t like? Bullying a neo-pro rival to put pressure on him and force him to work against his own interest? That’s way more devious than attacking during a mechanical.

            Note that I agree with more or less all you say, dave (and I took the Cancellara example from a sentence where you were stating right what I’m saying here)!
            It’s just an example of how dubious it is to decide about “deviousness” when we’re hundreds of miles away from the races.
            It ends up being fandom and personal sympathy plus a good load of media storytelling.

            “Biking away on descent when people are closing their jacket”… what? This is pure fandom. Are we kidding? You must know how and when put your jacket on, or you go back to the juniores. Or you stop, you put your jacket on, and then you follow without complaining for the implications. Several riders did, in cycling history, and it didn’t stop them from winning races. It’s not a club ride. “Guys, has everyone is jacket on?”.
            The mechanical thing is way arguable, too. It’s not like a flat or an invisible pothole or a crazy spectator. With a mechanical shift, it depends hugely on you (most of the times). And you can choose not to ride with an electronic group. Both Contador and Nibali publicly declared (a long time after or before their respective episodes) that they use to prefer mechanical shift during races because they want to be responsible of what happens. It’s a significant part of being able to ride your bike properly. Do people wait when you take the wrong line down a descent? Part of that is luck, part is a cool mind and ability. Obviously, there is a variety of situations (chain jumping out because of a pothole), but it’s not just ill luck. Besides, ill luck is part of racing.
            Schleck didn’t lose his Tour there, nor Nibali won there his stage, feel assured.
            I’m applauding the riders who decide to mend someone else’s bad luck, but the opposite isn’t devious at all.

          • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:49 pm

            @J Evans
            Quite obviously, I hadn’t read your comment before writing mine.

          • JP Saturday, 12 September 2015, 2:24 pm

            “It ends up being fandom and personal sympathy plus a good load of media storytelling.”
            Gabriele sums it all up (oxymoron?)

        • Anonymous Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:36 pm

          Going by your guilt by association guidelines, there would be no one able to race for the next three years.

      • The Real JHutch Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:21 am

        Assuming this is correct it’s a real shame. The UCI do cycling no good by seemingly making the rules up on the spot; Porte / Nibali / Aru all of these cases seem to have been decided based on the preference of the Jury, and all decision that could ultimately effect/have effected the out of the races.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:34 am

          Excuse me? The fines for Nibali and Porte were absolutely by the rules. In Porte’s case people got angry, because the rules were upheld! In Aru‘s case the jury says they can’t judge on the existing footage (or the footage they have and are allowed to use). If they could rule against Aru, it would have been a money fine and 10sec. for each involved rider. Nothing, which would have altered the race totally.

          • The Real JHutch Saturday, 12 September 2015, 11:54 am

            I bow to your superior knowledge, my understand was that the level of time penalty Porte received was down to the Jury as was the decision to thrown Nibali off the race rather than to give a time penalty.

          • JP Saturday, 12 September 2015, 2:19 pm

            Real JHutch – In regard to Porte at least, the time penalty was decided by the jury but it was bounded by the rules:
            https://twitter.com/inrng/status/600721418842701824
            Nibali was also handed a sentence that was within the rules.

        • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:16 pm

          That’s what a Jury is for, you know? And from what I saw in the link above, people tweeting about this don’t have much idea, sure a lot less than a Jury (if it was a handsling, how does the 2.5 secs reference make sense?).
          I guess you know that several riders have been caught taking prolonged hold of their respective team cars which helped them to make it to the finish line in Andorra. It’s not that it is totally irrelevant for the competition, since one of them was a teammate of Tom, still in the race, and another one was yesterday’s winner, Gougeard. Apparently, these two guys weren’t even sick, nor had they fallen or the likes. They went away (not away from the race…) with a 50 F fee and a 10″ penalty in GC.
          It’s up to the Jury to decide how serious, or well-proven, or relevant, or blatant a case is.
          In the case of Aru, from what I’ve seen, it’s hard to decide if it was an effective push, if it was just encouraging him to go without a real thrust or if it was an attempted handsling (I’m not sure – I really don’t know – if “attempted pushing” is all the same a fault like “attempted doping”).
          I’m far from being an expert of UCI rules, and the experience of one of the readers who is a race judge would help a lot here, but I’ve seen a lot of handslings not being punished, even who they eventually led to winning a race, which makes me thinks that it must be one of those gray areas where rules are applied according to circumstances.
          Law is also jurisprudence. And a true spirit of respect for the laws should include respect for the Jury and its decisions (personally, I’m a bit skeptical about both, but people who deem themselves as absolutely lawful types should remember that…).

          • Pot-Kettle Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:00 pm

            Long-winded, hypocritical, sanctimonious, waffling horseshit.
            Oh Fabio! Oh Vince! Forza Italia!
            And you have the barefaced cheek to slam others for their ‘fandom’.
            You are a piece of work, gabriele, a real piece of work.

          • Larry T. Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:52 pm

            +1 The internet is full of armchair judges and juries with opinions influenced by all kinds of things, not least whatever the TV commentators prattle on about for hours to fill the time. I encourage cycling fans to go and see a big (or even not-so-big) bike race live, in-person. Then there’s the armchair aspect of actually pinning on a number yourself (rather than fake competition via the likes of Strava, etc.) and competing in a RACE yourself. Fans who have done both tend to have a better understanding of how the sport works and appreciate more that every aspect simply can’t be cut-and-dried while “liberty and justice for all” is a challenge for a variety of reasons.
            I’m a fan of Aru, but if Dumoulin wins, he’ll deserve it. Yesterday he could have simply sat on Aru’s wheel as was his strategy according to quotes he gave the day before, but instead he had his team up there as well and attacked his rival on the final run-in to the finish line to gain a few more seconds. May the best man (helped by his team) win!

          • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:45 pm

            Pot-Kettle: worthless again – keep it about cycling. If you don’t like someone’s comments you should feel free to disagree with them, but don’t just call them names.

  • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:01 pm

    Incidentally, having just seen VeloViewer’s profile of the final few kms… It seems to suit Dumoulin well again. Steep and short, something for people with a powerful kick. Who knows, maybe if Aru is a few seconds ahead, Dumoulin could get back just enough on the finish.

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:11 pm

      Around 200m at 10% I read somewhere ?

      I think that the wind could prove to be a factor today – it will be pretty much a stiff headwind as the race returns south to Cercedilla. Not easy for Astana to launch a break but, equally, could be very difficult for Dumoulin if he were to get isolated without team mates and need to bridge any gap.

      • hahostolze Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:28 pm

        Yeah, decently stiff headwind. Which should advantage Dumoulin as long as he can follow Aru, with every attack that bit more difficult to do with a headwind.

        • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 12:48 pm

          That Dumoulin is a devious character. The stiff headwind is sheer bad luck, why should he take advantage of it? If he was a true sportsman, he should give one hundred meters of advantage to Aru for every attack against the wind, before starting to chase. Obviously, the contrary is true, too. If Aru finds himself on the front with a temmate with Dumoulin chasing alone, with that stiff a headwind, Aru shouldn’t accept collaboration by his teammate. Unless it would be quite unfair. Besides, if Aru tops the climb alone and Dumoulin is too far back, how could he check, as it’s due, if Tom has his jacket on, well zipped up and all? ^__^

          (Just joking, I understand rooting for a rider – it just shouldn’t make you become unfairly judgemental about people, like ‘your guy’s rivals’, when you really don’t know enough about them, IMHO at least)

          • Anonymous Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:29 pm

            JA!

  • Willis Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:03 pm

    gabriele – I admire your passion and enjoy your insights and knowledge. But is there any chance you could condense your posts just a bit while still making your point? I tend to read mostly not post but I’m finding myself glance at your posts as I scroll scroll scroll. Which is a shame.

    • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:26 pm

      I disagree with you completely. And you only speak for yourself.
      I find Gabriele’s posts fascinating and full of knowledge I don’t have – there are few other posters one learns from (and certainly no-one I learn as much from).
      If you don’t want to read them, just don’t read them.
      Gabriele, please keep it up.

    • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:27 pm

      Sorry, I haven’t got that gift in my mother tongue, and as a not-native it becomes even harder. Besides, most matters need space if you want to tackle them from the POV of a greater complexity (to state the obvious or shared commonplace can be done with shorter posts), plus some examples or explanations not to look like patronising or aggressive (which I’m constantly afraid of). Hats off to the many writer (among whom our host) who can provide great insight in little space. What I should really do is not to enter in that many debates.

      • ccotenj Saturday, 12 September 2015, 2:30 pm

        no gabriele, please continue to enter every debate and be as verbose as you want… i’ve been following cycling a long time, and your posts not only teach me things, but also get me to reconsider things that “i think that i know”…

        one big reason i started posting here a few months ago (after lurking for a long time) is because of posters such as yourself…

        so don’t stop… 🙂

      • STS Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:01 pm

        I’m 100% with you on this one, gabriele. Please ignore Willis’, sorry, ridiculous comment. This is neither Twitter nor Facebook. As J Evans said, if you don’t want to read long posts, then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

    • Vitus Saturday, 12 September 2015, 6:11 pm

      yep. 90% are just tl;dr

    • Anonymous Saturday, 12 September 2015, 6:13 pm

      This may seem a little harsh, given Gabriele’s undoubted and much appreciated knowledge and analysis, but as one reader of this site it is relevant to note:

      – due to the large number of Gabriele’s posts, the great length of the posts, and the convoluted language and sentence construction, I have started to visit this site less . It is a chore to read the posts rather than a pleasure, and to skip them would often be to skip other elements of the discussion on the site.

      Absolutely no offence intended personally Gabriele, if I had your extensive knowledge and could write in a second language as you do I would be proud, I am just sharing the effect on this one reader’s experience of the site.

      • S K Sunday, 13 September 2015, 2:22 am

        Dude – From my perspective – your comments are completely out of line.

        I very mech appreciate the comments that Gabriele is making. The read very well for me.

      • Francisco Sunday, 13 September 2015, 10:11 am

        How subjective these things are! I actually enjot Gabriele’s sentence construction and depth. What a pity the sound bite and the 80-character tweet are redefining literacy.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 13 September 2015, 4:41 pm

        You are entitled to your opinions and I respect those stated here.

        I am aware from the support for Gabriele’s – in many ways admirable – contributions, that my opinion is a minority one. For me it was the right time to give it, adding to what I think had sadly become a relevant site discussion as opposed to cycling discussion, since the site has become dominated by a couple of contributors.

        On the one hand there is the policing of each comment which can be unpleasant. On the other, while an in-depth argument can have much value and I do not personally find as much to gain from snippets, the overly convoluted and lengthy nature of the posts leads me, and evidently one or two others, to lamentable scanning of the discussion. To suggest we can simply choose not to read is dismissive, and misses the point: were the discussions without the current dominance and policing, one could join in without having to dedicate an unusually long time (and with much brain-ache) to process the comments each day.

  • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:38 pm

    “Meanwhile, elsewhere”. New footage just shown on RTVE with HD zoom, and… surprise surprise, no cheating nor anything devious yesterday by Aru and Sánchez. All the action from above, no tree covering.
    No handsling at all (you could see that from the lack of effective pushing, but I must sincerely admit that I believed it was an attempted and failed handsling). He was patting him on the shoulder to encourage him, like “go, go” – the images from the front camera are simply deceptive.
    Now what? I’d say that the insistence by Team Giant has been pretty devious 😉
    Their rider who had just finished his pull on the front must have seen quite well what was happening, and yet…
    What about the internet fuss by people who were imagining they were seeing thing they couldn’t be seeing? Expecting that the Jury should punish a rider without proper proof.
    Jokes apart, polemica is fun and part of cycling. Despite Giant and MTN (and Juventus, or Newcastle) team jerseys, reality is rarely black and white.

  • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:46 pm

    In all my comments, I should have started with ‘If it is shown…’ – does anyone have the clearer footage? I’ve only seen the stuff with a tree in the way.

    • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:55 pm

      Truth is that the trees weren’t the problem. The problem is that they cut from the heli view and go with a front take when the *action* is about to start (right after the first tree, hand of LLS extended towards Aru). And the following tree doesn’t cover the scene from above. RTVE has got all the heli footage and probably provided it to the Jury. They’re now showing all the stage from the start and broadcast a replay with the new footage (zoomed up, too) some 20′ ago. Tomorrow all the stage will be available on demand on the RTVE website, as always, hence unless they upload a shorter version (like, last 3 hours or so), yesterday’s replay will be included, too.

    • gabriele Saturday, 12 September 2015, 1:56 pm

      And you were already pretty honest in your first comment above, unlike other commenters 😉

  • Gabriel Saturday, 12 September 2015, 3:37 pm

    I suspect Sanchez tried something there and maybe failed. Tapping Aru to encourage him to chase doesn’t fly with me. I also suspect that Sanchez realized they’re on TV surelly and stopped the sling manouver hence the fail. There’s little proof of guilt and the jury decided to not penalize. It would have destroyed the viewer experience on the last battle to decide the winner and further damage the race and sport with another “case”. Maybe Astana learns something eventually. Vino must really be an a**.

  • CM Saturday, 12 September 2015, 5:42 pm

    Today Textbook from Astana
    Plaza marvellous ride

    • Special Eyes Saturday, 12 September 2015, 6:21 pm

      That was a cruel day.

    • STS Saturday, 12 September 2015, 7:56 pm

      +1
      Exactly my thoughts.

      While it was great to watch the near perfect execution of that tactics by a (reduced to seven) Team Astana that tactics was absolutely to be expected. That’s why I wonder why Dumoulin’s team did not try to do the same and send two guys up the road who could come into action between the two last climbs. Rather unlikely that this would have kept him in red but it definitely would have been worth trying, me thinks.
      Nonetheless a great stage possibly making a broader public understand why road cycling is a team sport.

  • Othersteve Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:31 pm

    Great race, yes.

    Gabriele post what ever you want. As many have pointed out you add much to the discussion.

  • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:34 pm

    Chapeau Plaza.
    And chapeau Aru. And Astana – that’s the real team prize.
    Hard to believe that Giant didn’t put anyone up the road, seeing as they were going to be of little other use to Dumoulin. And it wasn’t exactly rocket science to put men up there, considering the parcours. I doubt Giant could have done anything to stop any Astana riders going upfront. Highly unlikely that it would have preserved the win, but maybe the podium.
    No surprise that Rodriguez made no effort to win the race.
    Today’s stage shows why multiple climb stages are more interesting – usually – than monoclimbs. The Vuelta needs more of the former. A close race; not a very good one, though.
    And bravo to Eurosport UK for going to an advert just as Aru launched his attack. E mail addresses to complain to: ukcomms@eurosport.com – I have.

    • ccotenj Sunday, 13 September 2015, 2:49 pm

      agree with almost all the above… we got two things yesterday we rarely see anymore…

      1) plaza… just an incredible ride… when he went with more than 100k left, i didn’t think there was a chance in the world that he would make it… i’m trying to remember the last time someone went on that long of a solo raid in a gt and pulled it off… gabriele, help me out here…

      2) HOORAY!!! a team FINALLY remembered how to employ proper team tactics in order to win, and that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel to do it… when they picked up the feed here (we didn’t get it all the way from the beginning in the usa) and i saw those astana riders in the front group, i was hoping that for once, we were going to see the “old school” technique of putting riders up front be “done right”… not only was it “done right”, it was timed perfectly… well done…

      i too would have liked to have seen a giant rider or two in the break, but i don’t think it would have made any difference… that team is done wore out right now (not to mention they aren’t built to climb), and i doubt they could have held on in the break long enough to make any difference… i think they would have been cooked by the 3rd climb…

      one more thing… as much as i wanted to see tom win (because imo, this was the only chance he is ever gonna get, and i like him), i’m kinda glad in a way that he didn’t, and i’m glad it didn’t turn out to be close… it was a truly unusual set of circumstances that put him in a position to win… i honestly think it could have been disastrous for his “long term” career if he had… tom has not been, is not today, and will not be a “climber”… he is a brilliant tt’er, and i think he could be one heck of a classics rider (as well as good at one week races)… but he is never going to be a true gt rider, and i would hate to see him (and his team) attempt to make him one, because it would negatively impact what he is really good at, and imo, he can’t improve enough to be a truly world class climber…

      still, i wanted him to win… 🙁 and i give him a TON of credit for hanging in there… although some of that credit can go to astana/movistar, because they really should have disposed of him last week…

      the strongest (and most aggressive) rider won… the team that FINALLY remembered how to win a bike race won… no complaints here…

  • J Evans Saturday, 12 September 2015, 8:57 pm

    To reiterate, I really think people should keep their comments to being about cycling.
    Comment on/disagree with somone’s posts – in the strongest terms – but don’t call them names or tell them to stop posting, or how to post. That’s not your place.
    You’re not forced to read.
    Everyone says things that p1ss off others – lord knows I know that.
    Comment on the comment; not the commenter.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 13 September 2015, 12:41 am

      Congrats J Evans. While admonishing everyone else you break your own “scripture” with your pedantic comment. I come less to this blog as it has become a hijacked discussion board for just a few and their suspicions etc. For instance over 20 of the 60 comments on this post come from just two readers. A long trip from how Inrg began.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 13 September 2015, 2:12 am

        A long trip indeed; because of those 60 comments, and especially those 2 readers who keep logging in like Columbo with “..just one more thing…” and then even more often to check for responses to their critiques and assessments, Inrng now gets some financial help. And sometimes someone has something interesting to write.

        I’ll wade through the foolishness in order for the site to make money. It’s worth a lot more than I pay to read it.