Yesterday’s incredible stage was going to be tough to match, but it was well and truly beaten today!
What. A. Stage.
I was correct in my prediction that it would be full gas from the start but I could never have imagined it would have been that crazy!
Contador and Quintana got away in a very strong breakaway after around 10kms. Some tactical ineptness from Sky saw Froome isolated with only Puccio and Lopez for help. Puccio was soon dispatched by attacks on the early hills by Movistar, leaving only Lopez with the Brit. Orica did some work in the early part but their numbers were soon depleted. Other teams came and helped, but that was it. The stage and the Vuelta were gone, barring any disasters for Quintana later in the race.
Brambilla managed to follow Quintana all the way up the final and out-sprint him to the line. Shows how much energy can be saved when you’re not in the GC dog-fight every day!
Moving on to tomorrow’s stage.
Like an-upside down, stretched out “V”.
A long gradual climb, with a few peaks along the way. If you take everything in consideration, the road rises 720m over the 90km which averages a solid 0.8% gradient for that period.
The longest descent of the race follows and a flat run to the line.
The finish itself is fairly technical within the last 5km. There are a lot of sharp turns and roundabouts to be negotiated. However, the closing 1km along the sea-front is dead straight, so there shouldn’t be an issue here. The problem will be the fight to get into position.
How will the stage pan out?
One of the few supposed nailed-on sprint stages before the Vuelta, there is still the chance we get a bunch gallop tomorrow. It should be a relatively easy day to control but after the past two incredibly tough stages there will be a lot of tired legs. Although saying that, a fair whack of riders rested up and rolled home today…
The break would have a fairly good chance on a stage like this normally if it wasn’t for the second peloton that rolled in nicely rested, almost an hour down. There is enough firepower in that group who’ll have fresh legs to chase down most moves.
It’s just a case of will they, won’t they?
The peloton is certainly divided after today’s issues with riders voicing varying opinions, depending on what side of the split they were. The Peloton Politics during tomorrow’s stage will certainly be interesting.
There are even divides within teams. At Cannondale, Moser has expressed his disappointment while Rolland has proclaimed that it is good there is still “solidarity” within the race.
In my opinion they should be thrown out, however, it’s not even the clear rule breaking that annoys me. It’s how nonchalant and arrogant the grupetto was, rolling home. If they had all been struggling up the final climb, out of the saddle, pain faces on, then I wouldn’t actually mind. Except it looks like none of them broke a sweat riding up it!
I’m sure those riders who struggled hard today, won’t want to see the sprinters take the stage glory tomorrow. @Padsbets put it perfectly earlier on Twitter, suggesting:
“When Felline finishes third tomorrow behind any of the sprinters who put zero effort in making the time cut today it’ll be a disgrace”.
Cycling is a sport famed for its Omertà and insider dealings, and it’s very unusual to see the whole apple cart upset like this. In a way, it has almost ridiculed tomorrow’s stage already. I wonder if some teams will try to make the race as fast as possible to try and prove a point, or the complete opposite could happen and we’ll have another go-slow.
If I’m being brutally honest, I’ve lost the motivation to write a full on blog for this stage. I had intended on writing about the battles between sprint trains and the break, with a few exciting (and familiar) names up my sleeve. Who will lead the chase? Fatigue in the peloton etc? Instead, I’m left discussing another shambles within the sport and yet again it’s a governance issue.
This whole situation has made tomorrow even more unpredictable. Based on my ethical views more than anything else;
Felline wins a sprint;
Luis Leon Sanchez wins from the break.
Both of them made the time limit.
No bet for tomorrow. It was going to be a small stake break lottery day, followed by a sprinter in-play.
I am backing Ben Swift over at the ToB, which should be an exciting and attritional stage.
Apologies for this being shorter again, normal service will resume on Tuesday, once this has all blown over! On a brighter and more joyous note, have an immature laugh at the finish town name for tomorrow. Thanks for reading,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.