Saturday, 24 August 2013

Vuelta a Espana 2013 : Stage 2 Preview

THERE is definitely no gradual riding yourself in to this Tour, as stage two shows.

It's 177.7km from Pontevedra to Baiona Alto Do Monte Da Groba. For 167km it seems like a standard opening stage of any grand tour. An inevitable break will go up the road but be reeled in before the finish.

Along the way there is one 3rd category climb to overcome which has it's summit over 100km from the finish.

However it is the final 10km which will prove to be crucial.

The climb of Alto do Monte da Groba rises 620m at an average gradient 5.6% although it does reach a maximum gradient of 10%.

It could go one of two ways.

The first scenario is the big favourites may want to test each other out and gain as much time as possible over the others.

The second option is that nobody will want to lose too much time so it may be a case of everybody just looks at each other and doesn't attack until the stage victory is in sight.

Either way it will still be a reduced peloton that crosses the line.

The opening TTT has thrown up few surprises.

Astana, and Vincenzo Nibali in particular, were the big winners, taking the stage and opening some big gaps on the rest.

He now has 22 seconds lead over Sergio Henao, 29 seconds over Alejandro Valverde, 32 seconds over Roman Kreuziger and a whopping 59 seconds over Joaquin Rodriguez.

Others fared even worse. The Euskatal trio of Mikel Nieve, Sammy Sanchez and Igor Anton find themselves 1.14 down and Dan Martin of Garmin is already 1.41 back.

I can imagine Astana trying to keep the jersey for the moment. Janez Brajkovic is more the capable of recording a good ride overall and they won't want to surrender their well earned advantage,

I also imagine it will be tough for some to break clear and be allowed to stay there. One man who might is David Arroyo of Caja Rural. The small Spanish side will be active on most days as they attempt to get their name of TV as much as possible.

But in Arroyo they have a man who is more than capable of making the top 10 and even higher. Be warned. His is a name I will mention a lot during this tour as there is definitely a stage win somewhere along the line with his name on!

However he might be a little high profile to be allowed to get away so easily. In which case look to team mate Amets Txurruka as a potential winner of this stage. A good climber he will be on the break at least once and this stage could be made for him.

But it is still more likely to be one of the big guns who takes the honours. So Valverde, Rodriguez or Henao could be the ones with their arms aloft by the end.

Still so much racing ahead and still so many questions unanswered. Enjoy it though!

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