Saturday, 31 August 2013

Vuelta a Espana 2013 : Stage 9 Preview

STAGE nine is classed as a medium mountain stage. But the last kilometre will see gradients as high as most climbs across the entire Vuelta.

The stage itself is one of the shorter ones, at just 163.7km long, so could be one of the quicker ones. It takes the riders from Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen and only crosses one categorised climb, the category 2 Alto de los Frailes.

That climb is around 6km long and averages in the region of 5.5% to 6%.

It is a steady climb and with it's summit just 16.2km from the finish it is the perfect place to soften the peloton up at the very least.

The descent is fairly quick without too many technical sections so anyone who can descend well will be able to put some under a whole lot of pressure.

One man who can descend well is Vincenzo Nibali. I wouldn't imagine he will put too much hurt on the other favourites but he will be at the front of them all come the final slog up Valdepenas.

Having said that he didn't look good up the final part of today's climb, although there were reports of a slipped chain which hindered his progress.

The last 2km sees the road climb at an average of 6% but with the final kilometre hitting parts above 10%.

It is a finish which shares a lot of characteristics to those in Belgium and Holland and that are seen along the route of some of the Northern Classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Flanders.

Nibali will be a very good bet for this stage as would the Colombian pairing of Carlos Betancur and Sergio Henao.

Joaquin Rodriguez and Roman Kreuziger are another two who have both been victorious in the Spring Monuments and will like the look of this finish. Kreuziger though wasn't comfortable today and unless he was taking it easy he may not be up for this.

For outsiders the two contested the finish a few days ago, World Champion Phillipe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar are both more than capable of doing something here as is Nicolas Roche.

Roche took the red jersey today after a superb effort to latch on to the Ivan Basso attack. He has looked in the best form of his career and after promising so much in grand tours over the last few years could this be the time he actually delivers?

I get the feeling though that a breakaway may contest the finish today. Always hard to predict who will manage to get in there but riders from Vaconsoleil (maybe Tomasz Marcynski) and Euskatel (Igor Anton or Egoi Martinez?) will want to be part of it and Caja-Rural will always look to put somebody in there.

It is another stage which won't decide the destiny of this Vuelta. But it will put the hurt on a lot of riders. And that could be crucial come the last week.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see you're still writing these great entries.