C-Cycling - Vuelta a España 2015 Preview and Favorites

Oprima aquí para leer la previa de la 11° etapa en español!

02/09 - Stage 11 - Andorra la Vella to Cortals d'Encamp - 138 km

This is without a doubt the hardest stage seen in a grand tour in many years. More than 5000 meters of climbing await the riders in just 138 km. We are in Andorra which means we are in Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez’ training area. Purito is also the one who designed this stage. It’s the same course he used for his own “La Purito Andorra” race, which took place last month. Nobody in the peloton knows this course as well as he does.

Only one of the six categorized climbs is more than 10 km long. However, they are all very steep. The last ascent, Alto Els Cortals d’Encamp, is also the steepest climb of the day. The 8.7 km towards the top have an average gradient of over 9 %. Volta a Catalunya has finished here a couple of times in the past with iconic stage winners like Roberto Heras and the late José Maria Jimenez, proving that only the best climbers in the peloton will be able to win here. These are the climbs the riders will have to overcome today:

Collada de Beixalis (6.5 km / 8.7 %)
Coll d'Ordino (9.9 km / 7 %)
Coll de la Rabassa (13.8 km / 6.6 %)
Collada de la Gallina (11.7 km / 8.5 %)
Alto de la Comella (4 km / 9.5 %)
Alto Els Cortals d'Encamp ( 8.7 km / 9.1 %)

With so many climbs on the menu, naturally, this is a very important day for the riders targeting the KOM jersey. No less than 60 points are up grabs today. We can expect a furious fight to make it into the early breakaway. Not only is this a crucial stage for the KOM jersey, it’s also an excellent opportunity to win a big stage in a grand tour. Without a real patron in the peloton, it will be very difficult to control the stage. Therefore, it won’t be a surprise if the winner comes from a strong break.

An important factor today is the weather. Compared to the extremely hot start in Andalucía, the forecasts now predict rain for the entire day. This could easily have effect on some of the riders’ performances. Another thing to remember is that the peloton takes on this insanely hard stage right after the first rest day of the race.  Many will fear how their legs will respond, especially with so many meters of climbing on the menu.

Luckily, this is one of the very few stages of this year’s Vuelta a España with full-stage broadcast on TV.  If the weather allows it, we should be in for quite a show today.

C-Cycling - Vuelta a España 2015 Preview and Favorites

Katusha will be very eager to set up Purito to win his stage. However, even though he knows every meter of the road, it will be very difficult for him to drop his rivals. The way I see it, guys like Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome and especially Fabio Aru have much better chances of winning today. That being said, it’s far from given that the GC riders will end up fighting for the win in Andorra. As mentioned, there is still no real leader of the race. Tom Dumoulin didn’t plan to go for the GC and even though his Giant-Alpecin team is very strong, it’s not a team for climbs like this. They won’t be able to control the stage. The question remains: who will do the work in the peloton?

Movistar almost lost Valverde the other day. Without knowing how he’ll tackle the climbs, they probably won’t work much. Astana should be interested in working for Aru but after losing Nibali and Tiralongo early in the race, they need to be very conservative with their energy levels. Team Sky usually takes responsibility but they don’t really have to this time. Chris Froome knows he can distance his rivals significantly in the long time trial. He just needs to follow them in the mountains. This leaves us with Katusha. However, one team surely can’t control a strong break up front all by themselves. Tinkoff-Saxo may want to give Rafal Majka a chance to go for the win but they don’t have a strong enough team to control the stage either. Unless a couple of the teams reach some kind of agreement to work together, I think the winner of the stage will come from a break.

If so, we should look to strong climbers out of the GC like three Colombians Rodolfo Torres, Fabio Duarte and Darwin Atapuma. It would also makes sense for Astana to send a rider like Mikel Landa up front in order to not work in the peloton. The same goes for Team Sky with the likes of Vasil Kiryienka and Sergio Henao. FDJ’s French climber Kenny Elissonde has won on a steep climb from a break in bad weather before. He’s only 6 minutes down in the GC, but he may be able to get away anyway since he’s not a real threat for the overall win. In case it all comes back together on the final climb, my outsider today is Domenico Pozzovivo. A hard stage like this - with a lot of climbing - suits the pint-sized Italian perfectly.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv.

Accept Cookies?
Provided by OpenGlobal E-commerce