Tour de San Luis 2016 – Stage 4 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour de San Luis 2016 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

San Luis – Cerro del Amago 140km

SL4

A huge day lies in front of the peloton. This is the day where the GC will be shaped. The Amago is one hell of a climb, 11km at 6.8%, with a maximum of 15.5%. What makes it even harder is the changing gradient. There isn’t a chance to get into a constant rhythm, which most riders like. The start of the climb is actually the hardest, with 2.3km at 10%. This is a proper climb, for riders who have had a good Winter.

The climb was introduced into the race in 2014 and was climbed again in 2015. On both occasions, first over the climb won the GC. Quintana dominated in 2014 and Diaz in 2015, both winning the stage by around 50 seconds. It really is a climb for a true mountain goat.

We still haven’t really seen who is here for the GC. As I have previously mentioned, most of the Europeans are considerably behind the South Americans, in terms of their preparation. However, the main riders here from South America are targeting success later in the season.

Nairo Quintana is always in form. He wants to win the Tour de France, but he’s such a natural athlete that he can compete in every race of the season. His team look very strong and will be able to support him a long way up the mountain. Nairo will be able to look towards his brother, Dani Moreno and Marc Soler. This is a formidable group of climbers and I doubt any rider will be able to escape for a long solo attempt.

On paper, Astana are the next strongest team. They have Nibali, Lopez, Scarponi and Capecchi. That is 4 serious climbers, but some of these boys will not be in the best of condition. Lopez was my pick for the GC but we have still to see what impact his stage 2 crash had on him. We are so used to Nibali disappointing in these races, he took us by surprise by saying he wanted a good result. He does look skinny, which is always a good sign for a mountain climber. I still harbour doubts about his condition and motivation. As he wants to ride the Giro, Tour and Olympics, I just can’t see him already being in top form. Astana’s hopes are all on the shoulders of Superman.

Lopez enjoyed a good season in 2015, but I really expect big things from him in 2016. Unlike some of the others, he isn’t targeting the GC in a grand tour. Lopez can afford to go full gas here, but it depends on how he has recovered from his crash.

Defending champion, Dani Diaz, crashed a few days before the race started. It meant he had a few days of his bike, not ideal preparation for a race. This was clear to see as he lost time during stage 3, such a shame for the defending champion.

Runner up in 2015 was Rodolfo Torres. He has a new team and looks to be in good form already. Torres was the almost man of the year, I’m hoping he gets a bit of luck this year. Androni have received the bad news that they will not ride the Giro this year, so Torres needs to take every chance possible. Get a couple of wins and he can join a real team in 2017. I expect him to go well here.

The other “big name” climbers who have a chance, are:-

Rodrigo Contreras – Etixx

Andrew Talansky & Andre Cardoso- Cannondale

Alexis Vuillermoz – AG2R

Julien Loubet – Furtuneo  Vital Concept

Josue Moyano – San Luis Somos Todos

Ilia Koshevoy – Lampre

Janier Acevedo – Team Jamis

The vast majority of these riders are here for training. The best of them should be Contreras, Vuillermoz and Moyano. The locals will really be hoping for a big performance after a poor 2015, where they were hampered by crashes. Hopefully Moyano can keep the locals interested.

The unknown quantity is Richard Carapaz. Unfortunately, he lost time on stage 2 due to a crash. Now down on GC, he will be given some freedom. Hopefully he can show his quality in the mountains. If not, look towards his teammates Jonathan Millan and Steven Calderon.

Stage 3 has already shown us that Majka and Sepulveda are not here to win.

Prediction Time

It really should be a fight between Quintana, Torres, Nibali and Lopez. I doubt the Europeans will cope with this climb. Pablo tells me that Lopez was looking good after his crash, so I will stick with my original selection. Superman takes the stage!

David Hunter

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