Vuelta Stage 13 Preview

A hilly stage that sees the race cross back and forth between France and Spain, a hard day’s racing and the longest stage of the race and all on the eve of Queen Stage in the Pyrenees.

Stage 12 Wrap: a sprint but just. An early move included two Team Sky riders and it was unusual to see them up ahead. Playing their own cards or just joining a move to make Movistar work? It wasn’t just two Sky riders, several strong riders on the margins of the overall classification were in the move but it forced Movistar to work. They were reeled in and Dries Devenyns – him again – was on the attack and away solo while behind Alberto Contador tried a move. But the flat road to the finish was fatal for Devenyns’ hopes and would have been for Contador if he’d managed to get clear too. In the sprint of about 45 riders, Orica-BikeExchange’s Jens Keukeleire delivered the kind of long, powerful finish that delivered him the win in the GP La Samyn and the Nokere Koerse as a neo-pro with Cofidis back in 2010.

The Route: a full day’s racing in the Basque country, a region that includes part of France by some definitions of course. At 213km this is the longest stage in the race and hilly too with 3,720m of vertical gain as they head into the Pyrenees. There are four third category climbs and all between 5-7km at no more than 6.5%.

The Finish: there’s a finishing circuit that’s half in France and half in Spain. Original? Actually it’s a copy of the 2014 Tour of the Basque Country stage won by Tony Martin from a breakaway. The cross back into Spain and arrive in Dantxarinea, a cross-border shopping destination and the finish town but don’t cross the line, instead there’s loop taking them back into France.

It’s mostly on wider roads but there are some smaller sections and it rises and falls and the road rises at over 6% for 1.5km as they cross the border back into France with 8km to go, an unmarked but significant climb before a gradual descent into the village of Dantxarinea again. After the turning for the finish with 500m to go the road rises at 1.5-2% for 400m.

The Contenders: a good day for the breakaway. When Tony Martin won here in April 2014 he did it with help from then team mate Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) and the Belgian is in good form and ideal for a stage like this.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) is another pick and if he’s better known for asphyxiating his rivals in sharp uphill finishes he still packs a good sprint from a small group. Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) can sprint even faster but tends to place more than win – third yesterday – even if he’s won a stage of the Tour of the Basque Country too. Otherwise it’s hard to keep the preview concise given the course is open to many and a section of the peloton will fancy their chances in a breakaway in the mountains so perhaps the likes of Thomas De Gendt, Tejay van Garderen and Pierre Rolland are going to sit today out? Gianni Meersman is a safe pick in case of a big sprint while Adam Hansen says he’s waiting for the second half to pick of a stage so he could be in the action too.

Jan Bakelants, Philippe Gilbert
Felline, Calemejane, Lampaert, Meersman, Hansen, Nielsen, Moser

Weather: sunshine and 28°C, a chance to see the Basque Country in dry summer rather than the habitual rainy images beamed every April.

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.

26 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 13 Preview”

  1. BMC have been aggressive lately with Hermans, Atapuma, and even TvG giving it a go yesterday, so it would be nice to see PhilGil take this stage in his Tri-colore.

    This Vuelta is special in its unpredictability of stage winners, so far.

  2. 3,700 meters of vertical gain? In a “non-mountain” stage? Add to this that most days these boys have been more than rolling along. I begin to ask myself at what point someone pays for this? Its true that I’m also asking myself at what point Valverde gets tired. How can he be riding his third grand tour of the year as strongly, if not more strongly, than the first? Remember, this is not Adam Hansen rolling around at the back and maybe picking a day to have his attack. This is a guy contending for the win. Maybe he’ll crack tomorrow.

      • I don’t really like the casting of aspersions like this. Appreciate that we can ‘never know’, but Valverde has always ridden strongly throughout the season – it’s not really a one-off. Arguably he’d have done better if he tried to have peaked higher for a shorter period, but this year I reckon he’s just 36 and wants to ride as much as he can while he can.

      • Valverde has 7 podium finishes in a GT, plus 1 win. A fantastic record – does anyone know who has the most podium finishes? Or maybe who has most podium finishes but no GT win?

        J Rod may be a contender actually. I’ve just checked wiki, and he has 5.

        • Curiously – or not at all! – most great GT winners didn’t *also* have many podium finishes, that is, 2nd and 3rd places, excluding victories.

          Merckx (11 GT + 1 pd), Hinault (10 GT + 2 pd), Coppi (7 GT + 2 pd), Indurain (7 GT + 2 pd), Contador himself (at least 7 GT + 0 pd), barely have podium finishes… especially if you compare that with their victories!
          Anquetil (8 GT) is sort of an exception with 5 podia, 2 of which were collected unsurprisingly during the final couple of years of his careers (and in one case he also had to face another top-ever champion, Gimondi). The other three are related to early years in which he tried the Giro-Tour double (he lost a couple of them to guys like Bahamontes and Gaul ^__^), which he eventually achieved in 1964.
          I’d include in a peculiar category Bartoli and Gimondi, who out of sheer count of victories alone could well be near the best, having won 5 GT each, but who had to endure the very special situation of having to match as their personal *foes* the two most impressive riders ever, Coppi and Merckx. It doesn’t come as a surprise that they’ve got several podia (even if not always related to their biggest rivals), that is 5 podia for Bartoli and 7 podia for Gimondi.

          A very curious case is Zoetemelk, a victim of both Merckx and Hinault (!), eventually collecting one Tour and one Vuelta but showcasing not less than *SIX* 2nd places at the Tour… and no other podium spot wherever.

          Nibali, Sastre, Delgado and Ullrich have 5 podia each, but they too duly won their Tours and Giros and Vueltas…

          Uff… that’s hard… other great GT riders? Lemond, Gaul, Fignon, Bobet, for sure, but they didn’t podium much.

          Who else? Eureka! Chiappucci’s got 6 podia and no wins! Poor Purito. I was starting to think he could win at least this stats thing ^__^

          Then there are guys from before the IIWW, like Bartolomeo Aymo, but I know him only thanks to the archives.

    • The Basque Country is always hilly and the distance helps up the vertical gain but this is a hard day ahead of a very hard weekend of racing.

      With Valverde he’s done the Olympics, San Sebastian, the Ardennes and won two early season stage races too.

  3. Loving this year’s Veulta, but then again it’s a bike race so I would. Even bad bike races are bike races and therefore are sacred.

  4. The Olympics were disastrous, by his standards. But still, I think many people have questionable assumptions about how much racing is too much racing. Very often, it’s the mind that gets weary more than the body. Besides, GT stages are generally much shorter than they used to be, so Valverde’s feat, admirable as it is, is being done in easier circumstances than what Lejarreta used to do (doing the 3 GTs and contesting the GC in al of them).

  5. Anything thing I’ve noticed: there appears to be much less of this phenomenon of idiots running along with the riders in Spain, something that is a veritable plague on the Tour de France. I must say, I much prefer it the Spanish way.

    • it was mentioned a couple of days ago, but the police seem to be visible and active on the climbs – the ASO could learn something here

      (…maybe the crowds are more ‘Spanish’ for the Vuelta than they are ‘French’ for the Tour also? ie not so many drunk Brits/Aussie/Yanks/others on the mountains desperate for their mates to spot them on the telly back home?)

      • I’ll be honest with you, Noel, and share just a couple of recent GT roadside experiences with you. One is from the Alpe last year, another from Alto Del Naranco. The people I saw across the Alpe road and around me who were behaving like dickheads were mainly French. The crowds around me last Sunday were mainly Spanish, but also Aussies, American & Brits – and ALL were respectful of the riders and thoroughly enjoying the race playing out in front of them.

        There are dickheads from all nationalities but it’s probably better not to single out particular nationalities just for the sake of it from behind a keyboard

        • Sam – I was hoping my etc would mean I wasn’t necessarily trying to single out anyone in particular – but my own experiences (particularly on the double ascent of l’Alpe in 2014) I guess guided my writing (I’m a Brit btw…). Two or three experiences doesn’t make a very good sample size I’m happy to admit.

        • Yeah, add to that the Italians who nearly knocked Nibali off in the Giro TT. Not fair to pin the blame on one nationality. The police are definitely more visible, which helps, and the crowds don’t look drunk like they often do in Giro/Tour. Having said that the crowds at Flanders like a drink and manage to stay respectful.

      • The Tour attracts more of this drunk Brits/Aussie/Yanks/ clowns, for sure. More holiday in Europe time than the Vuelta. But they’re not the only ones with bad habits. Every nations a-holes seek the Tour to get their Warhol 5 seconds of fame.
        The French (and Italians) are just not doing enough. Spain got the message and put more troops on the ground.
        Somebody has to tell the French that runner costumes are a sort of Burkinis, and we will see hundreds of flics on the climbs immediately.

  6. ITV4 guys mentioned last night that ASO are seriously considering reducing the numbers of riders per team.
    Is this something that they could do independent of the UCI?

    There was the hue and cry over Sky’s team in TdF but it is notable that Movistar so far hold every jersey and the team prize.

    • The rules on this are set by a committee that includes the UCI but also the races (ie ASO) and others like the riders and teams. So it’s not for ASO to decide but nor the sole preserve of the UCI too, it’s up to everyone to explore the issue and see if they can agree it.

      But going from 9 to 8 won’t change too much while bigger changes are going to be vetoed by the big teams, after all if they can bring two leaders and seven steamrollers to flatten their rivals why would they vote to remove this advantage?

      • Ref UCI article 2.2.003:
        “The number of starting riders per team shall be set by the organiser, with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 8, 9 for Grand Tours. T”
        So basically ASO could drop riders 5-9 without asking permission. But then comes som special provisions:
        “Special provisions for UCI WorldTour
        In UCI WorldTour events, the number of starting riders per team is 9 for Grand Tours
        and 8 for other events. However, subject to prior approval by the Professional Cycling
        Council, the organiser may fix the number of starting riders per team at 7. The organiser
        shall request the permission of the Professional Cycling Council on or before 1st January
        of the year of the event.”
        And the will have to ask anyway. 😉

    • I suspect this is just a cosmetic attempt to be “seen to be doing something”. Sky would be no less dominant with 8 riders. I believe they’ve even won one of their Tours with 7. So are the ASO going down to 6 riders per team? Anything more makes no difference. To be honest I hate it when races organisers tinker with the formula because its perceived someone is too dominant. Its totally anti-sporting. If other teams can’t beat Sky/Froome then so be it.

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