Despite Monday being a day of rest for the peloton, the majority will have been fretting over the next task which confronts them on Stage 10. Riders may feel that they have already suffered at their limits’ in the opening 9 days, yet come the end of Tuesday’s 36.7km Individual Time Trial, some will have discovered new realms of hurt. Starting in Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela and progressing uphill from the start ramp, this is a typical Vuelta time trial in the sense that little flat tarmac is offered, but you would be wrong to envision mountain passes throughout.
Mountain men will not be overly favoured here compared to recent Vuelta time trials, this means the traditional specialists against-the-clock will have a chance of a stage win. Despite the day being less relevant than most TTs in terms of the general classification, the big names will be eager to not ship too much time to neither stage winner, nor fellow Red Jersey contenders. Chris Froome and Alberto Contender could put in impressive performances on the day despite the terrain only having one categorised climb beyond the generally rolling roads; though the Cat 3 Alto del Moncayo should leave an impact on most pairs of legs after its 5.5% average gradient is completed at the end of 2.2km. Once over the top of the stage’s sole climb, it is a gradual downhill roll into the finishing town of Borja where concentration must remain high as they navigate five tricky turns once pushing beyond the flamme rouge.
Despite the occasional appearance off the front of the peloton, Tony Martin has remained relatively anonymous at the Vuelta thus far and tomorrow’s profile shows why. The distance and terrain suit power more than than the seemingly hollow boned climbers, who float to the top with great ease, so Tony Martin will have this as a huge goal. Opening with 11km of uphill roads will not deter the ‘Panzerwagen’, as the resulting downhill trip to Borja will guarantee Martin the chance of pushing every last watt from his 58″ big ring – as long as fitness allows him too. Fabian Cancellara can have similar words said of him, but a flatter route would possibly have pulled the stage more into his favour than Martin’s, nevertheless he will use this as a litmus test of the pair’s form ahead of the World Championship TT in a few weeks. From the ranks of the Red Jersey hopefuls will be Chris Froome, seeing the day as the perfect chance to recoup some time as well as entertaining the idea of a stage win. The issue with Froome is his conditions, it has been no secret that the Sky rider has struggled to stay on his bike recently and it is possible that recent injury fatigue will have an effect. However, should he find himself in good shape ahead of Stage 10, Froome could be the biggest threat to Martin’s chance of a win. Alberto Contador’s chances of performing well are almost a mystery, he had recently recovered his pre-suspension form in time trials, but surely time away from the bike will have blunted this somewhat. Regardless, he is likely to perform well inside the top ten, as he looks to build a solid base from which to attack upon in the mountainous conclusion of this year’s Vuelta. Others who are likely to populate the upper reaches of the finishing table are Rohan Dennis, Adriano Malori and Bob Jungels – all of which have shown great results against the big names earlier in the season.
The win tomorrow is likely to be fought for amongst Tony Martin, Chris Froome and Fabian Cancellara. Despite the strength and depth of this trio, Tony Martin should have enough to take this stage win after limiting his efforts in the opening week of the Vuelta. Should Froome be on form, he could push the German close, but so far in this tour he seems to be struggling to find his best condition.
1st Martin 2nd Froome 3rd Contador