After almost three weeks of racing, the specialists against the clock shall step into the limelight at last and look to take their sole opportunity of glory in Stage 19’s individual time trial. A relatively simple route from Xàbia to Calp will last 37km and looks the ideal terrain to establish a high speed battle amongst the contenders for stage honours here. However, with many twists and turns on the cards for the riders, there is also a large technical element to the day which will need negotiating en route to victory.
Jonathan Castroviejo shall view today as his to lose, with few thoroughbred time trialists at La Vuelta, there shall not be many likely to push the Spanish rider to his limits for the win. The Movistar rider has long been closing the gap to the likes of Tony Martin, Tom Dumoulin and Bradley Wiggins, now finding himself without such a rival to truly test him as the peloton reaches Stage 19. Barring any technical errors or bad weather, Castroviejo is the clear favourite to secure a home win for Spanish fans.
Chris Froome may not be at his imperious best, but there is no doubt that he has been saving energy in anticipation of putting in a monstrous performance today. The gap to leader Nairo Quintana has grown considerably and it is hard to imagine Sky were expecting to chase such a deficit by the time they reached this point. Regardless, Froome’s goal now is to reduce the lead of Quintana as soon as possible, potentially setting himself up for a spectacular final few days at La Vuelta a España.
Luis León Sánchez Gil has previously performed very well during individual time trials which come late in a grand tour, marking himself out as a definite contender, especially given his strength during the last couple of weeks. He might not be the fastest against the clock, but once an attritional race takes its toll on his rivals, there is no reason he cannot better the time of any rider.
Victor Campenaerts is reigning Belgian time trial champion, contesting his first career grand tour in the shape of La Vuelta and clearly has an eye on performing well here after finishing last yesterday in hope of conserving energy. Had this come during the first week of racing, Campenaerts would have been high on the list of contenders, but the effects of a draining debut grand tour may now limit his chances on Stage 19.
Vegard Stake Laengen took a surprising third place during this year’s Giro d’Italia on Stage 9, reminding people of his decent ability in an individual time trial as a result. Given the distance and terrain on offer, the Norwegian has a great chance of featuring in the mix once again and should be worth watching.
Others deserving of consideration are Tobias Ludvigsson, Fabio Felline, Alberto Contador, Silvan Dillier and Thomas De Gendt.
1st Jonathan Castroviejo 2nd Chris Froome 3rd Luis León Sánchez Gil