Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 9 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 9 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 8 Recap

2 man break: Aramendia and Favilli. The Spaniard has now featured in 3 breaks, in just 7 road stages! They were brought back a long way to the finish, as the GC teams were getting ready for the crosswinds. With 30km to go, Tinkoff, OPQS, Sky and Trek decided to put the hammer down, and we got some gaps. Initially, we had 3 groups, but the first two joined together. It seemed that this group would ride to the finish, but with 10km to go, it split again. Quintana and Degenkolb found themselves on the wrong side, but they worked together to re-join the front group. OPQS did a great lead-out, and my pick Boonen, was in the best position. Just as he went to jump, Bouhanni came past him on the right. Boonen, had went left and therefore, found himself in clear air and the chance was gone. Bouhanni was flying, but Michael Matthews was gaining. It seemed that the Frenchman changed his line, but I doubt Matthews would have beaten him anyway.

Stage 9 Carboneras de Guadazaon – Aramon Valdelinares 185km

Time to hit the mountains!

ve9With the rest day coming after this and then the ITT, this stage is crucial to many riders, especially those who will lose time, against the clock.

vuelta-valdelinaresWe have 3 climbs on the menu:

Puerto de Cabigordo 18km at 3.8%

Alto de San Rafael 11.5km at 4.2%

Aramon Valdelinares 8km at 6.6%

This stage is all about the final climb.

ve9aA challenging climb, but not extreme. I would expect the crucial moves to come around 2km from the top. The final kilometre flattens out, so it’s crucial to go before this point, if you can!

The whole world knows that we have 5 main contenders: Valverde, Quintana, Froome, Contador and Rodriguez.

The Movistar pair never seem the most harmonious of partnerships. Both Froome and Contador are still recovering from crashes and Rodriguez ain’t looking his brilliant self.

Go under them, we have Aru, Uran, Martin, Chaves, Barguil, Kelderman, Sanchez and Gesink. Uran says, he knows this climb well!

In normal circumstances, this is how the race would go….

Team Sky hit the front and set a jaw dropping pace, this eliminates rider after rider, until Froome puts in a devastating attack, and no one can follow. Stage 6 showed us, this might not happen here. Froome does have Kiryienka to set tempo at the bottom of the climb, then Kennaugh to tear it apart, before Nieve finishes it off. For me, they still have the strongest team, just not as strong as they usually are.

In stage 6, it was Valverde setting tempo. Rodriguez attacked and Valverde followed, both Froome and Contador couldn’t quite match the attack. We haven’t seen this for a few years, so Froome is not at his usual level, Contador too. Quintana was the worst of the fantastic 5, that day, is he carefully managing his form?

Sometimes it’s possible for the second tier riders to get away, due to the tactics being played. The climb is only 8km and with Movistar having 2 options, I doubt this will happen. If it does happen, Chaves looks the strongest of the others.

And what about a breakaway? The profile is perfect and there is no need for Movistar, or anyone else to chase it down. The likely breakaway riders are: Arredondo, Serpa, Niemiec, Nocentini, Kangert, Bennett, Coppel, LL Sanchez, Sicard, Elissonde, Tschopp, Van den Broeck, Meintjes, Clarke and Yates.

If the break is successful, only a proper climber is capable of taking the stage.

The weather will also play an important part. After a week at 40 degrees, we’ve had 2 days at 30 degrees and the finish of this stage will be 15 degrees. Some riders will struggle with the change in temperature.

Prediction time…

I think the break will be successful and this is a day for Jose Serpa. He is clearly in great form and was unlucky not to win in the Tour. Like De Marchi, he will get his redemption, in Spain!

If the break fails, I can’t see past Chris Froome.

David Hunter

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