La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 12 Preview

Course:

After yesterday’s surprising exchanges between the general classification favourites, Stage 12 should follow a more orderly script, but that is not to say that the outcome will be easy to predict here. Stretching over 193.2km from Los Corrales de Buelna to Bilbao, today’s stage takes in a total of four categorised climbs and will see the roads packed with some of cycling’s maddest fans as it passes into the Basque country. The immediately steep start to the day should lure out a breakaway with a greater number of climbers present, especially those eager to accumulate points in the chase for the mountains classification. The first ascent of the day is also the toughest, the Category 1 Puerto de Las Alisas is 10km in duration and averages a steady 6% gradient, after which the pack drop down to another flat section ahead of the next climb. Second on the day comes the Category 3 Alto La Escrita (6.4km avg 4.5%), then a longer run of flat terrain leads into the first of two finishing laps and onto the Category 2 Alto El Vivero (4.2km avg 8.5%), which will be summited a second time with less than 13km from the finish. Tactics on the concluding finishing circuits will play a huge part in the outcome of Stage 12 and it will be a late call as to whether a small move can stay clear into Bilbao.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 12 Preview

Contenders:

Fabio Felline has come agonisingly close to a stage victory on a couple of occasions at this year’s race and is likely to have requested that his Trek-Segafredo teammates commit to the day’s chase in hope of setting himself up for a win in Bilbao. His climbing ability has really caught the eye in this opening week and a bit of racing, now raising the question as to whether or not rivals can make life tough enough for him on the final climb.

Gianluca Brambilla should now find himself with a great deal of freedom to attack by the peloton, as a result of having blown a large amount of time on the general classification. This type of hilly terrain, which concludes with a descent to the line, is perfect for Brambilla to launch a late attack; while he shall also be a favourite to win from a reduced bunch sprint if required to.

Alejandro Valverde could be tempted to contest the finale here, a rider who often emerges as the strongest on a course which concludes with a late ascent that leads into the finish. His focus is now focused upon securing himself another grand tour podium finish, so may instead wish to simply follow the wheels of rivals and ride defensively during what may be a tougher than expected last climb. As ever though, if he is present in a lead group which splinters from the peloton late in the day and reaches Bilbao first, then Valverde will be many’s pick for the win.

Omar Fraile seems certain to join the day’s breakaway in order to continue his mission to secure the mountains classification and shall see the start to Stage 12 as an ideal springboard to do so. The main negative aspect for Fraile in regards to winning the stage is the amount of effort he is likely to invest when securing his points, certain to blunt his ability somewhat come the final climb.

Thomas De Gendt and Alexandre Geniez will be alert to the movements of Fraile in an attempt to prevent him gaining a greater advantage on the pair of them. De Gendt is perhaps the more likely of the two to go after the stage win given his recent form, while Geniez could be playing the long game and instead focus upon collecting points rather than stage honours.

Others with the potential of taking the win include; Luis Leon SanchezMathias Frank and Dries Devenyns.

Outcome:

1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd Fabio Felline 3rd Thomas De Gendt

 

Advertisements
La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 11 Preview

Course:

Yesterday’s rest day will soon feel a distant memory as the peloton hurtle into the second week of 2016’s La Vuelta a España and immediately face another summit finish to test their legs. The 168.6km trip from Colunga’s Museo Jurasico to the steep gradients of the Peña Cabarga will be a sharp reintroduction to life at this year’s race with another brutal finale awaiting the riders. Almost an entirely flat day in the saddle, Stage 11 will see everyone focused upon the Category 1 Peña Cabarga which looks poised to crown today’s winner in dramatic fashion. It may only last for 5.9km, but the average gradient of 9.9% does little to reveal the true nature of this beastly climb. Double-figures for the most part, riders will have to battle with several ramps hitting 17% – 18% as they struggle their way to the top in hope of glory. Whoever does win here, will no doubt see today’s achievement pinned firmly atop their palmarès for years to come.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 11 Preview

La Vuelta a España - Stage 11 Preview

Contenders:

Tejay van Garderen is here to win stages and will surely hope to feature on a day which finishes with a testing climb few can match him on. Much like many, the issue will be making the day’s breakaway after what will be a hectic start to the day’s racing. The BMC rider has kept a relatively low profile up until now and may fancy his chances to strike out for victory during the first stage back from a day’s rest. Van Garderen will have focused upon performing beyond the first week of racing, with this looking like the ideal opportunity to test the water in hope of victory.

Andrey Zeits has already demonstrated his current form by joining a few breakaways with mixed success, but still often appearing one of the strongest present regardless. If his luck is favourable once again when trying to join the early move, then he is a definite threat to a climber such as Tejay van Garderen once they hit the slopes of Peña Cabarga.

Mathias Frank shall still be hunting stage wins at La Vuelta and has already proven that he knows which are the best breakaways to join at this year’s race. The tough finale should play to his strengths well, though there are certainly doubts as to whether he is truly in his best condition right now.

Robert Gesink impressed many with his performance on Stage 10 and will now be an obvious man to back on day’s for the break like this. The Dutchman is still progressing upwards to his best form, but Sunday’s performance should be considered a warning shot to anyone who finds themselves alongside him towards the end of today. Whereas Nairo Quintana snatched victory from him atop Lagos de Covadonga as a result of the Columbian’s need to gain time, today should allow the breakaway to establish a big enough advantage to stay out of reach from the general classification fireworks up Peña Cabarga.

Alberto Losada‘s performance during the opening week has given many the belief that he has the potential to win a stage at 2016’s La Vuelta a España and it is hard to argue otherwise right now. He will be confident of catching the breakaway today and will prove difficult to distance on Peña Cabarga once the slopes shoot skywards again near the summit.

Omar Fraile was anticipated to be challenging for the King of the Mountains jersey at this year’s race, but got off to a slow start which left people wondering if that really was the case. However, after his efforts on Stage 10, Fraile now has the jersey upon his shoulders and may well fancy taking another haul of points today. This shorter summit finish and steeper slopes will drag the race into his favour, but the predominately flat start to the day may hamper is hopes of getting into the break.

Angel Madrazo gives hope of a local win, having been born in Santander, thus making him a clear wildcard possibility to give it everything to take stage honours near home. Madrazo is also a talented climber and should perform well on the Peña Cabarga‘s steep slopes if reaching it first as part of an earlier move.

Outcome:

1st Tejay van Garderen 2nd Omar Fraile 3rd Angel Madrazo

 

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 10 Preview

Course:

The iconic slopes of Lagos de Covadonga are poised to initiate the first true showdown amongst those anticipated to spend the next two weeks wrestling for the red jersey of 2016’s La Vuelta a España. Starting in Lugonas, the course stretches a total of 188.7km en route to the gruelling ascent of Lagos de Covadonga, with the opening 140km comprising relatively tame terrain before the Category 1 Alto del Mirador del Fito (6.2km, avg 7.8%) opens the day’s climbing account. From the summit the peloton shall descend rapidly, after which the road momentarily flattens out before almost immediately starting the ascent to the summit of the HC Lagos de Covadonga. The 12.2km challenge averages 7.2%though the ramps are far more severe and the irregular nature of the climb will see plenty crack under the strain. As seen below, the opening few kilometres feature gradients of 14% and remains in double-figures for the most part, while the final stretch to the line hits 17.5%.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 10 Preview

La Vuelta a España - Stage 10 Preview

Contenders:

Nairo Quintana may have only had one true chance to demonstrate his form, but the Colombian did appear to be the strongest rider amongst the general classification contenders currently. He will be aware that there is a need to secure a reasonable amount of time ahead of the individual time trial; Chris Froome and Alberto Contador both more talented against the clock than himself. The steep gradients and irregular nature should play more into his hands than other rivals, hopefully seeing him secure a historic win and potentially take the race lead as a result.

Chris Froome will want to shadow the moves of rival Quintana to prevent him gaining too much time on him before the individual time trial. Froome misjudged his efforts somewhat on Stage 8, subsequently losing time to rivals Quintana and Contador, so may now choose to ride defensively until more certain of his form. Regardless, if he finds himself leading the way in the final kilometres and feeling strong, Froome will certainly choose to seize upon the opportunity to gain time.

Alberto Contador looks to be riding in competitive form despite dehydration issues and an unfortunately late crash earlier in the week which left him strapped up quite severely. He favours longer climbs and will consider testing the water alongside his lead rivals on the final climb, potentially aiming to claw back some of the time he lost early on at this year’s Vuelta España.

Alejandro Valverde‘s best chance of victory will come from a race which only erupts in the final kilometres, at which point the steepest sections of the Lagos de Covadonga will offer him the perfect terrain for him to attack in pursuit of victory. Though he is a talented climber, if the likes of Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome choose to really up the pressure early in the ascent, it would be a huge task for Valverde to match them right the way to the last two kilometres.

Tejay van Garderen should be a danger from a breakaway today, as there remains a chance that the fireworks from the general classification riders will prove too late to reel them back in. His switch to stage victories at this grand tour must not prove to be a waste of time and he will view Lagos de Covadonga as a finale suited to his climbing style.

Alberto Losada has been performing extremely well at this year’s Vuelta a España, Katusha surely now viewing him as the ideal man to back for another stage victory. He has a knack for making the day’s break and certainly has the strength required to outperform most of his likely escapees en route to the summit of Lagos de Covadonga

Omar Fraile was surprisingly absent from the breakaway yesterday, perhaps indicating that he would rather collect points for the mountains classification on the biggest days, rather than rolling through numerous category 3 climbs in the next two weeks. There is no doubt that he has the legs required to perform well on Stage 10, but the hectic cut to make the early breakaway is certain to decide his hopes today.

Others worth watching include Andrey ZeitsLeopold KönigSergio Pardilla and Christophe Riblon.

Outcome:

1st Nairo Quintana 2nd Alberto Contador 3rd Chris Froome

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 9 Preview

Course:

Stage 9 is a 164.5km journey from the day’s start in Cistierna to another uphill finale in the shape of Alto del Naranco, looking like the ideal terrain for another breakaway to find success at this year’s La Vuelta a España. Rising immediately from the start, the road then eases somewhat as the peloton approach the day’s relatively gently opening ascent of the Category 2 Puerto de San Isidro (11km avg 3%); after which comes a snaking descent lasting approximately 50km and placing the pack onto the foot of the Category 3 Alto de Santo Emiliano (6.2km avg 4.7%). The first in a sequence of three climbs which also features the Category 3 Alto de San Tirso (5.1km avg 3.9%) and the Category 3 Alto de la Manzaneda (3.5km avg 6.9%). By this point the peloton will have had a fair amount of climbing in their legs and will still be required to tackle the final Category 2 Alto del Naranco which forms Stage 9’s finish; the winding road to the summit lasts 5.7km and averages a 6.1% gradient throughout.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 9 Preview

Contenders:

Hugh Carthy has so far maintained a low profile at his first career grand tour and should be interested in contributing to the day’s breakaway action. His team Caja Rural seek to animate the race on a daily basis, though it is stage profiles like these which motivate them the greatest and are bound to have at least one representative in the day’s move.

José Gonçalves provides another option for Caja Rural on Stage 9, unlucky thus far in making the key moves, though is clearly in threatening form at this year’s Vuelta a España. Gonçalves is a canny rider, dangerous as part of the day’s breakaway or a late attack from the leading pack on the final ascent of the day.

Omar Fraile shall do his utmost to form part of Stage 9’s breakaway, as the Dimension Data rider is hoping to challenge for the King of The Mountains jersey at this year’s race and needs to start acquiring some points soon. His efforts during the day may nullify him somewhat by the time he reaches the Alto del Naranco, but he should be in the mix for the win regardless.

Samuel Sanchez lives in the area and could well view this as an excellent opportunity to steal some glory as he nears the end of his career. Sanchez has demonstrated a level of fitness not far behind that of the general classification favourites, but will only be able to secure victory today if the breakaway is reeled in ahead of the final climb.

Tejay van Garderen has swapped his normal general classification ambitions for stage victories instead, marking him out as a danger-man for all stages like these at La Vuelta. He is a superior climber to many expected to make the breakaway and would warrant the mantle of favourite within any group which reaches Alto del Naranco before the peloton.

Adam Yates has already won a stage of this year’s race and there is a good chance that he may repeat this feat once again already. It will require a great deal of good fortune to set the race up in a way which could act as a springboard to victory for the British rider for a second time in this opening week though.

Alberto Losada has demonstrated his strength in the breakaways at La Vuelta already and could be a good outsider on Stage 9 to take stage honours.

Outcome:

1st Omar Fraile 2nd Alberto Losada 3rd Hugh Carthy

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 8 Preview

Course:

A 181.5km jaunt separates Villalpamdo from La Camperona Valle de Sabero, a pancake flat day which builds towards the intensely gruelling summit finish of Alto de la Camperona, Valle de Sabero. The final rise to the line features a deceptively manageable gradient of 7.4%, when the reality of the day’s final run to the line is an ascent which tackles slopes in excess of 20%.  Today’s winner will need to be extremely strong to match the pace of Stage 8, though the gradients ahead of the finale should prove inviting for those who have a taste for tougher work. It would come as no surprise to see one of the top riders win here, though it will be tough to pinpoint who exactly that is.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 8 Preview

La Vuelta a España - Stage 8 Preview

Contenders:

Chris Froome never seems to hesitate when it comes down to acquiring handfuls of time before the first week is over. The Team Sky captain will be hoping to steal a time advantage of sorts before the mountains truly kick off and is likely to prove confrontational on Stage 8.

Esteban Chaves is another specialist upon this type of extremely testing terrain and shall be eager to strut his stuff en route to another grand tour stage victory. The diminutive rider could catch many of his rivals napping if he chooses to attack today and there is no reason to think that Chaves could not win here.

Nairo Quintana shall be next in line to challenge the status of the big names here and will be looking to cause a stir as he strikes out for stage glory and the leader’s jersey.

There is a great chance for the breakaway to make it right the way to the line, with following riders in with a chance of winning here; Pierre RollandKristijan Durasek and Andrey Zeits.

Outsiders:

1st Chris Froome 2nd Esteban Chaves 3rd Nairo Quintana

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 7 Preview

Course:

The task on Stage 7 of this year’s La Vuelta a España is a 158.5km trek from Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria, a tough day to control which offers very little in the way of flat terrain from start to finish. This short affair should prove to be another aggressive day in the saddle which sees many team’s eager to get a rider in the breakaway. A triumvirate of Category 3 ascents shall await the peloton en route to Stage 7’s finish, softening the legs ahead of a manic final 20km which appear poised to crown the winner of today. Once again at La Vuelta a España, it shall be difficult to choose whether to back the chances of the breakaway or an elite bunch kick, but a handful of names do stand clear of the rest.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 7 Preview

Contenders:

Fabio Felline was able to place on the podium once again at this year’s race and will be wondering what exactly he needs to do in order to walk away with a stage win from this opening week. The Trek-Segafredo rider appears to be in fantastic condition right now and there should be a good chance of him matching the strongest in today’s final 20km, before then outsprinting them at the finish.

Alejandro Valverde once again appears to be the most well-suited rider in the peloton in order to contest the finish of Stage 7. The Spanish veteran has support in the way of José Joaquín Rojas and Daniel Moreno and shall subsequently feel confident of possessing a strong leadout in the decisive finale of today’s stage. The attritional nature of Stage 7 should play into his hands and there is a strong chance that Movistar will be looking to set him up for the stage finish once they crest the final summit.

Samuel Sanchez will surely be eager to seize upon what appears to be some fantastic form in the twilight of his career. BMC worked hard on Stage 6 and are clearly interested in picking up a stage win while defending the red jersey of team leader Darwin Atapuma. Normally this would be a golden opportunity for Sanchez to make the day’s move and then push onwards to a stage victory via a reduced bunch kick. However, his recent performances have now forced him further up the general classification and could subsequently find himself closely tethered to the peloton.

Philippe Gilbert could prove the ideal alternative for BMC in the case of Sanchez finding his efforts stifled on Stage 7. The former world champion and Belgian hero has a strong chance of featuring here on paper, but his performances so far at La Vuelta a España have done little to suggest he will really threaten those already in good form.

Tosh van der Sande is riding himself into some good form and could well challenge for the win here, though a slight uphill drag to the line may make it difficult to outperform the likes of those mentioned above who are bound to find the terrain more preferable.

Others well worth keeping an eye upon during the day are; Simon Clarke, Kristian Sbaragli and Nikias Arndt.

Outcome:

1st Fabio Felline 2nd Alejandro Valverde 3rd Philippe Gilbert

La Vuelta a España Preview

La Vuelta a España 2016 – Stage 6 Preview

Course:

Another day of rolling terrain awaits the peloton on Stage 6 as they tackle the 163.2km route from Monforte de Lemos to Luintra. Opening with an 86.6km circuit which loops back to the day’s starting city, the riders will have plenty of time to get their legs up to speed while rattling over the relatively tame terrain. The greatest pressure shall come from the battle for the breakaway, many teams aware of how unpredictable this year’s race appears to be and are already eager to make this count before opportunities dry up. The peloton will then begin facing their first serious ascending roads, culminating with the Category 2 Alto Alenz which lasts for 10.9km and sustains an average of 5.1% throughout. The following descent leads the pack to the foot of an uncategorised climb, a 13.3km ascent which has an average gradient of 3.4% and eventually flattens out with 20km remaining. From here follows a 1.8km drag (avg 6%) which finishes at the 3km to go banner, after which the final uphill section shall be the last 300m to the line with an average gradient of 3.5%.

La Vuelta a España - Stage 6 Preview

Contenders:

Alejandro Valverde will be one of the favourites to take victory if the peloton bring back the day’s breakaway in the final kilometres. He is an extremely opportunistic rider who does not hesitate to seize upon the chance for bonus time or stage wins, though the day does appear to favour a breakaway more than a sprint finish. The natural momentum of the peloton may unintentionally sweep up the escapees during the final drags into the finish and this scenario would likely make Valverde the man to beat in Luintra.

Fabio Felline came extremely close to picking up the stage win yesterday and would surely have got the better of Gianni Meersman had the Belgian’s teammate Zdeněk Štybar not contributed such a brilliant effort to secure Etixx another victory. Felline has proven that his form is strong enough to challenge in the sprints and has previously joined late moves on courses similar to this, arriving at the line as the group’s fastest finisher.

Simon Clarke offers a great chance for Orica-BikeExchange to make the day’s move and thus reduce the pressure on them to chase down the leaders. The Australian looks to be in good form at La Vuelta a España and is the type of rider who is equally dangerous sprinting for the win from either a long distance breakaway or last minute move.

Samuel Sanchez and Philippe Gilbert are BMC’s best cards to play on Stage 6, both riders eager to take grand tour stage victories late in their careers now. Sanchez has been riding at the level of some of the biggest general classification contenders at this year’s edition and can clearly deliver a strong attack when required, though he may find his ambitions hamstrung by the team’s need to protect the red jersey of Darwin Atapuma instead. The fact that Gilbert suits this course so well should provide him with a greater level of freedom to attack in the final kilometres, and if the race develops favourably for him, then it is difficult to see many beating him in a head to head slog up to the line.

Zdeněk Štybar buried himself for Gianni Meersman yesterday as his teammate took Etixx’s second stage win of this year’s Vuelta a España. Today’s offering may prove an ideal chance to swap the previous day’s roles around and instead support Štybar in a finale which could provide an ideal launchpad in the final kilometres for him to attack upon and solo to victory; a talent which has already secured high profile victories for him on several occasions.

There is a great chance that the day’s early breakaway will in fact make it to the finish first, riders who could all make the cut and subsequently steal stage honours on Stage 6 include; José GonçalvesEnrico BattaglinThomas De GendtDries DevenynsHugh CarthyRobert GesinkAlberto Losada and Rein Taaramäe

Outcome:

Sprint: 1st Fabio Felline 2nd Philippe Gilbert 3rd Simon Clarke

Breakaway: 1st Thomas De Gendt 2nd Alberto Losada 3rd Samuel Sanchez