Vuelta Stage 7 Preview

A lot of red in the profile above but this is a chance for the sprinters ahead of a mountainous weekend and if you get a sense of a déjà vu it’s normal as the route was used in 2013.

Stage 6 Wrap: several breakaway attempts but BMC kept the breakaway under control before Orica-BikeExchange helped take over in the final along with Movistar. With the remnants of the breakaway beginning the final climb with a chance Simon Yates jumped out of the bunch, overhauled breakaway rider Mathias Frank and took the stage win, his second since returning from the anti-doping suspension. That suspension came up in the post-stage press conference and you wonder how much what appears to have been an administrative mistake will cost him in terms of reputation and by extension earnings.

The Route: a clone of Stage 5 of the 2013 Vuelta. The race heads out to the vineyards. The first climb of the day is the Alto do Covelo, long at 10.9km but a gentle 4%. There’s more climbing along the way before the Alto do Padornello, 11 km at just 2.6%. Despite the soft gradients there’s still about 2,500m of vertical gain.

The Finish: the only difference to 2013 is the finish in Puebla de Sanabria when it at the Lago de Sanabria last time, in the town today and by the lake the last time. They come downhill into town on a bending road, pass under the 1km to go banner, cross the river and then the road kinks through two corners before an uphill finish that’s more pronounced than the profile shows. Nothing steep but certainly no dragstrip finish.

The Contenders: Gianni Meersman again? He’s got the legs and the team and this finish with its curves and the uphill run to the line is made for him. Fabio Felline has had two good days so all the more reason for Trek-Segafredo team mate Niccolò Bonifazio to take over in the sprint. Otherwise Lotto-Soudal’s Tosh Van Der Sande, Orica’s Magnus Cort Nielsen, Dimension Data’s Nathan Haas and BMC’s Jempy Drucker get tipped. A break could stick but today is one of the rare chances for the sprinters so they and their teams have every interest in trying to control things.

Gianni Meersman
Niccolò Bonifazio, J-P Drucker
Nielsen, Haas, Gilbert, Van Der Sande

Weather: 28°C and the chance of a thunderstorm.

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.

30 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 7 Preview”

  1. The administrative mistake was about asthma medication. In my opinion asthma medication is the sliding slope that leads to doping. Misusing prescriptions, in colusion with medical staff.

        • Asthma is an interesting illness. I have had it since a child, sometime so acutely I’ve had to undergo some pretty extreme procedures to stop the pipes from completely blocking. There are years when I haven’t had any symptoms at all and then it can just come unexpectedly. As far as i know, someone is diagnosed as having asthma if they have had certain symptoms or a spirometry test – which is essentially a test which sees the volume of air which can be inhaled or exhaled (this type of test is very relevant to cycling). If I’m not suffering from an attack and I take my medication before swimming or cycling my performance are very very different and my readings on a spirometry test are above the readings of the average population. What id love to know is whether asthma medication improves someone beyond just the position they would be in if they weren’t asthmatic. If it does, then one has to ask why asthma should not be viewed in the same way as someone who has a naturally low VO2

    • Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever their doctor might say, when cyclists use anti-asthmatics, they do it for plain performance enhancement.

      • Except that there is little evidence that inhaled Beta-2s do actually significantly improve performance, which presumably is why their use is allowed (the TUE regulation on Terbutaline applies only because of its potential for oral use I believe). Unless the athlete does have asthma (and about 20% hit medical diagnostic criteria) in which case one might say it’s purpose is performance restoration

      • Presumably the same applies to painkillers (traumadol comes to mind) or even caffeine. Not to mention all the technological innovations which enhance performance too. You’re meant to enhance performance, otherwise it wouldn’t be a sport. There is however a line which you can’t cross. All athletes can go right up to the line (and many do). Arguably they have a moral duty to go right up to the line, if you believe that people should always aim for the greatest success in anything they choose to do.

        • Obviously we don’t know how bad his asthma is or whether he only uses it for performance enhancing using the TUE and his asthma as an excuse, but I think this touches a massive grey area of anti doping.
          He is (regularly I imagine) taking this prescription for asthma and uses a TUE. The thing is, if he or the team doesn’t apply for the TUE, it is automatically considered a PED. So whether he has a TUE for it or not, taking it should be considered doping no because it has the same effect, TUE or not.

          • The whole point of asthma medication is to bring asthmatics up to the same point as everyone else I.e. A baseline label of ‘Your airways don’t abruptly construct with little to no warning potentially suffocating you’
            Make Yates do more tests to see if he’s actually asthmatic? Ok sure. But acting like an asthma attack is merely inconvenient and medication to prevent it is automatically performance enhancing rather than preventing expiration? Some of the comments this post turfed up exhaust me…

  2. Still no tip for Giant-Alpecin or Arndt? They’re claiming they sat up yesterday to save their legs for today when they saw Yates go (? Mmm perhaps). But they’ve had some ‘unluck’ getting caught up behind crashes on a couple occasions so far. I think they’ll show better although Spain has not been a happy place for them this year.

    • Surely it’s too much of an uphill finish, I think 5.5% and after a couple of bends to disrupt the bunch/slow things down. I rate Arndt as a sprinter, he’s one of the few who often sprints in the saddle all the way and has won stages of the Dauphiné etc this way but just not for today. Happy to be wrong.

  3. Excellent stage and course yesterday. Narrow roads rule. The Vuelta must understand it, its weakness is its propensity to use wide “national” roads.

  4. Very happy for Simon. But to be honest, he got it off light for the administrative error. Imagine a non aglo-Saxon arthlete in similar situation.

    One positive about the doping years in cycling is that everyone is as suspicious as the other and there isn’t a pro-western basis of clean cacasian European/first world v.s. Dirty Asian/Afriacan/3rd world. Though to be fair, there aren’t many non-cacasian riders in the peloton anyway.

    Same cannot be said for many other sport. Look at the moral entitlement some European arthlete felt (one of them went to the length to say that:”I’m glad to be the fastest European”) when Caster Sememya won during Rio.

      • A sweeping generalisation but people often believe in their home athletes and are suspicious of foreigners. There’s a cultural aspect but also a media aspect as people from one country are unlikely to read foreign reports on the rider and their story.

    • There are plenty of non Anglo-Saxon athletes who have had bans for less than 6 months even when using a drug for which no TUE is available.

      • @ Tovarisch: Just to clarify, I was referring to media treatment. Media (most of them anyway) is really nice to him, gives him quite a bit of space, which I think they should do (and to every other athlete who had non-previous anti-doping violations and committed a mistake with no intention to cheat). The official sanction on Simon is also quite fair & square.

        The problem is that athletes from other background, committing the very same mistake, as did Simon never had any intention to cheat, and receiving exactly same amount of official sanction, would went through far tougher media scrutiny or even ridicule.

      • It’s not borderline but it’s not racist either. It’s nationalist – reverse nationalism, perhaps. The idea that Anglos are the privileged few, run everything, get off lightly, look after each other, despise everybody else, etc. etc.

        Substitute ‘Jews’ for ‘Anglos’ and the argument would be racist. It would also be condemned on all sides. Leave it as ‘Anglos’ and some people are happy to spout it. Madness.

    • If you think the Semenya situation was about race, you’ve missed quite a lot (as did your paraphrasing). White runners aren’t shocked to lose middle distance races to competitors of African descent, after all. The issue with Semenya is that her intersex nature enables her to produce far more testosterone than an XX woman ever could. Which makes it very difficult for those women to come close to beating her. That raises all sorts of issues about what it means to be ‘female’ for the purposes of sport, none of which are on-topic here, but none of which are directly related to race.

  5. Whilst Atapuma’s jersey should be safe for today, I would be interested in thoughts on his chance of keeping it, or even a podium position, though to Madrid? His 9th place and strong final week performance in the Giro would suggest he’s ok with three week tours but is he currently a genuine contender?

    • Me too. He’s good on the summit finishes, not afraid to attack, and there’s only one day of TT-ing. The rest of the course seems to suit him very well.

    • You may ask that the Lotto-Soudal rider who shoot him out of the corner. As much a Bike setup problem or bad riding habit than the Giant-Alpecin crash

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