11 September 2013

Vuelta a España Stage 17: Calahorra to Burgos

So on the last stage before the rest day on Monday we learnt two things.

First that Vincenzo Nibali, despite having one of only two complete squads in this year's Vuelta can still be found vulnerable. Second Warren Barguil after his win earlier in the race doesn't know when he beaten, even if the rider who comes up behind him has been on the podium at the end of Grand Tours.

Monday's stage was the last of the Pyrenées stages and was relatively modest compared to the others. But on the back of two tough days there were a lot of tired legs out there. So it was that 16 men were able to stay away from the main contenders until the end.

A sprinter's finish on a climb!
On the final climb the young French rider Warrer Barguil (ARG) set off on his own, and only in the later stages did Rigoberto Uran (SKY),  Bartosz Huzarski (TNE) and Dominic Nerz (BMC) start to close him down. After one hair pin Barguil appeared to almost come to a stand still and then Uran pounced. But the young man fought to stay on his will. The two of them making their way up towards the line with the Columbian doing all the work. The other two almost got back to them with 200m to go before Uran launched his bid for the line only for Barguil to respond and win by centimetres on the line. He may well with his second more fighting win of this Vuelta have also ridden himself into contention for a spot on the French team for the forthcoming world championships.

Down the road behind them though there was a shake up waiting to happen. The first to attack was Alejando Valverde (MOV) but he was soon pulled back. Then it was the turn of Nicolas Roche (TST) to try and claw back a few of those seconds he had lost the day before. Joaquin Rodriguez (KAT) launched a bid over the top of him Roche responded with Domenico Pozzivivo (ALM). But behind Robert Kiserlovski (RSL) was applying the pressure for his team leader Chris Horner and finally the elastic broke on the race leader and Giro d'Italia champion. Horner ended up moving away with Valverde and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in his wheel but the red jersey was doing all he could to just stop losing too much to all his rivals (except Leopold Konig who was left with him).

In the end Rodriguez was the best of the GC contended some 1'41`" behind the photo finish for first. But these are the gaps that mattered:

  • Joaquin Rodriguez (KAT)
  • Alejandro Valverde (MOV) +3"
  • Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +6"
  • Chris Horner (RSL) +6"
  • Samuel Sanchez (EUS) +15"
  • Nicolas Roche (TST) +22"
  • Igor Anton (EUS) +23"
  • Domenico Pozzivivo (ALM) +23"
  • Leopold Konig (TNE) +27"
  • Vincenzo Nibali (AST) +28"
It means that the men within 5 minutes of Nibali now are:

  1. Nibali 64h 06'01"
  2. Horner +28"
  3. Valverde +1'14"
  4. Rodriguez +2'29"
  5. Pozzivivo +3'38"
  6. Roche +3'43"
  7. Pinot +4'37"
Worse for Nibali is that none of those gaps look insurmountable should one of his opponents have a good day and he finds himself on a bad one.

Today's stage is the last flat stage until the race enters Madrid on Sunday. So if there are any sprinters left in the field this is their chance to shine, providing the days in the Pyrenées and the rain and cold having affected them. When we say flat in the Vuelta there are tow 3rd category climbs on the route. But there aren't any surprises for them at the end as the last 5km into Burgos is a flt bit of road.

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