A time trial to balance all those climbs. That was the theory but the practice should see Chris Froome extend his overall lead over his rivals. There’s still the other steps of the podium and today’s stage up for grabs.
The Route: 40km, the longest time trial of all the grand tours this year. They start on the Logroño motor racing circuit and then head out onto a wide road that presents few obstacles and then after passing around Viana they pick up and even wider and straighter road, the kind where a rider can see the rider ahead of them from a long way and passing the Rioja vineyards before reaching the town of Logroño and finally some sharper bends.
The Contenders: Chris Froome is the obvious pick, he’s won time trial stages before including the Vuelta’s time trial one year ago and by a comfortable margin.
Among the GC candidates Alberto Contador can place well but blows hot and cold and would prefer a more technical and hilly course. Ilnur Zakarin can hold his own and Miguel Ángel López beat Fabian Cancellara on his way to winning the Tour de Suisse last year although the hilly course helped but it helps make the point that he’s not the stereotype Colombian climber. Wilco Kelderman is probably the best GC pick outside of Froome, all four of his career wins have come in TTs, he is in excellent shape and Sunweb know plenty about winning time trials.
Now for the specialists and outsiders. The news is that Rohan Dennis is out of the Vuelta so let’s skip to the others. Quick Stepper Yves Lampaert has a stage already and is the reigning Belgian TT champion having made good progress in this area and looks to have been saving himself, he was fourth this time last year but might find 40km is too far. Team mate Bob Jungels should do a good ride too. FDJ’s Tobias Ludvigsson is another specialist and went one better than Lampaert last year with third place a year ago. Movistar’s Nelson Oliveira could be a stealthy candidate but if this time trial was a big objective why was he taking part in a long range / low chance breakaway on Sunday’s stage? In other words he can’t be confident in his form and saving himself for today. Lotto-Jumbo’s Stef Clement can make the top-10 and Sky’s Gianni Moscon could set a good time too. Tejay van Garderen is good in the time trials and is in solid if unspectacular form. Finally Lennard Kämna is worth watching so see his progress, the German rider was junior World Champion in 2014, in 2015 in the U23 race he took the bronze medal in the Worlds and won gold last year aged 20 in the European U23 championships. Now he’s riding his first grand tour for Sunweb.
|Lampaert, Ludvigsson, TvG, Jungels
Weather: warm and sunny, 30°C and a light breeze from the NE meaning a tailwind.
TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. Riders go off in reverse GC order and Chris Froome is expected to arrive at 5.40pm CEST.
Daily Díaz: If the Navarra Circuit (open in 2010) is 3,933m long and cost €50 million, you can do the maths and find the €/m ratio. Torres del Río (KM16) is home to one of the few central plant churches in Spain (not the usual cross-like churches, but a perfectly symmetrical figure, similar to the Roman Pantheon). Built in the Middle Ages, these temples are usually linked to the Knights Templar. Other examples of central plant churches in Spain are the True Cross Church (Segovia) and Santa María de Eunate (Navarre). Viana (KM 27) was one of the scenarios of the Navarrese Civil War of the 15th century, a Game-of-Thrones-esque conflict between John II and Charles IV, father and son.
Map by Wikipedia’s Miguillen
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel