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La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » August 31st, 2010, 5:43 pm

Given the thread on the Tour de France generated about 7 replies, maybe I'm mad to start a La Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) thread.

Oh well, much more strongly concentrated in the mountains than the TDF, so will favour the climbers. There are some really big mountain stages, many with mountain-top finishes. Plenty of contenders: Menchov, Molina, Rodriguez, Frank Schleck, Anton, Mosquera.

Stage 4 has just finished - with a punishing and explosive final climb to the line - and Ireland's Nicolas Roche came in a very respectable 8th, just 12 secs behind the stage winner Anton. He's 11th overall in general classification. There'll be bigger tests to come for him as he's not a climbing purist, but so far a very tidy showing.

Will try to keep the thread updated as we go (for the other 6 of you!)
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » August 31st, 2010, 5:54 pm

I watched this afternoons stage, Roche looked very comfortable until the last 500m, but that is understandale the last 500m were the equivalent gradient to St patricks hill in Cork (if anybody knows it). I think he has a fair chance of a top 10 finish.

He is also doing his daily diary in the Indo (which I read online).
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby icebaby » August 31st, 2010, 10:05 pm

jezzer wrote:Given the thread on the Tour de France generated about 7 replies, maybe I'm mad to start a La Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) thread.

Oh well, much more strongly concentrated in the mountains than the TDF, so will favour the climbers. There are some really big mountain stages, many with mountain-top finishes. Plenty of contenders: Menchov, Molina, Rodriguez, Frank Schleck, Anton, Mosquera.

Stage 4 has just finished - with a punishing and explosive final climb to the line - and Ireland's Nicolas Roche came in a very respectable 8th, just 12 secs behind the stage winner Anton. He's 11th overall in general classification. There'll be bigger tests to come for him as he's not a climbing purist, but so far a very tidy showing.

Will try to keep the thread updated as we go (for the other 6 of you!)


Please do!
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby fourthirtythree » August 31st, 2010, 11:12 pm

silly punt wrote:I watched this afternoons stage, Roche looked very comfortable until the last 500m, but that is understandale the last 500m were the equivalent gradient to St patricks hill in Cork (if anybody knows it). I think he has a fair chance of a top 10 finish.

He is also doing his daily diary in the Indo (which I read online).


OT but... Some bloody hill that is - I walked up it many a time. When the tour of Ireland went up there last year I burst out laughting when they reached the hill - Lance Armstrong took one look up at it in the cold and drizzle turned right and got off his bike. Had to ring up a mate working there the next morning to make sure he got a look at it on the RTE player.

Please do keep us informed - I'm irregular in front of TVs or interwebs. I heard that Schleck had blown it. How's Menchov doing?
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 1st, 2010, 10:06 am

Todays Diary from Nicolas Roache, I have to say i enjoy reading it, you get a great insight to how these guys feel and what they go through.


Nicolas Roche: 'Sweat was dripping off me for most of the stage'


Today we had three big mountains to tackle before we got to the finish of the stage, which ended on a very narrow, very steep climb up to the mountain village of Valdepenas de Jaen.

I had a hard start to the stage this morning as my legs were still a bit tired after Monday's uphill finish, but as the race went on I felt better and ended the stage strongly to take eighth place.

Sometimes, the first hour of racing is the hardest as breaks continuously try to get established, but are often reeled in if they include any riders deemed to be a threat.

On a stage race, you can be a threat to numerous people for numerous reasons. If you're high on the GC, then you're going to be a threat to the race leader and other overall contenders and will rarely be allowed go anywhere.

If you are up in the King of the Mountains classification on a hilly stage, then the Mountains leader's team is going to try and take you back so that he can earn maximum points over the climbs. On a flat stage, the sprinters' teams calculate how many riders and which ones they can afford to let open a gap before they methodically reel them in towards the end of the stage.

Today though, the early break went after just 25km and because they went before the first climb, the Omega Pharma Lotto team of race leader Philippe Gilbert started riding straight away at the front of the peloton and kept the pace pretty steady.

It's important for our team to try and have someone in the break each day because there's always the chance that they could stay away until the finish.

kicking

The day that you have nobody from your team in the move is usually the day that the break gets 10 minutes and contests the stage win. If that happened and we had nobody in it, then we would be kicking ourselves after the stage.

We had Guillaume Bonnafond in the four-man break today. The quartet built up a maximum lead of almost six minutes, but with Guillaume having started the day just two minutes and 59 seconds down on Gilbert overall, the Lotto squad knew that if they didn't reign him in a bit, he would take over the red leader's jersey at the end of the stage.

Having dropped two of the others halfway up the second category climb of the Alto de Valdepenas de Jaen, around 40km from the finish, Guillaume went clear with Dario Cataldo of Quickstep and stayed away until three kilometres from the top of the final mountain.

The mountain isn't really that steep, more of a gradual incline, but it was really long and open and Giampaolo Caruso from Katusha set a fast tempo on the front of the peloton to try and get rid of Gilbert for his leader Joaquin Rodriguez, who began the day second overall.

On a climb like that, it's more about strength than anything. You have to be careful to be in the right position because if somebody in front of you lets a wheel go and opens a gap, the pace is so fast that you are never going to be able to ride around him and regain contact.

Although Caruso punctured off the front of the line, team-mate Vladimir Karpets took over and by the top there were only 23 of us left. We had a team car parked near the top and the mechanic handed me a welcome cold bottle on another scorcher of a day.

Today was a different type of heat. Although it was 'only' 38 degrees, it was a lot more humid, with little or no air. The sweat was dripping off me for most of the stage. But, as I said yesterday, when you're in the thick of the action you forget about all that and as we approached the short, steep final climb to the finish I was feeling pretty good.

I usually like today and yesterday's type of finishes. Yesterday, I cramped a bit near the end; afterwards I wasn't sure if my sixth place was gained more through courage than good form. Usually on the short, steep finishing climbs like today, I start strong and kind of crack towards the line, but today I actually got stronger as I got closer to the finish.

Although I was caught in the middle of the group when Basque climber Igor Anton jumped clear for his stage win, I passed Rigoberto Uran and Ruben Plaza from Caisse Depargne in the last 300 metres of the stage to take eighth and almost got Ezequiel Mosquera from Xacobeo Galicia on the line for seventh.

Immediately after the line, I rode straight across to the barrier on the left hand side of the road and I grabbed it to stop me keeling over on the hill. The road ahead was blocked with photographers, policemen, fans and team officials and there was no way I was going to try and ride through all those people in that heat. I could hardly breathe as it was. I waited there for the team soigneur to come down to me. The first thing he did when he saw me was pour water on me to cool me down.

After the stage, I had yet another cold shower in the team bus and then ate some mashed potato and chicken before heading for the team car and a 110kms transfer to tomorrow's start town.

Although it was still way up in the 30s outside, we didn't put the air conditioning on in the team car. I don't know where it came from, but most professional cyclists believe that if you put on the air conditioning after a hot stage, you are more likely to catch a cold, so we all just sat there sweating and had to get another shower when we arrived at our hotel.

confident

Today's result confirms that I'm in pretty good shape and I'm a bit more confident about my condition now. I'm up to 11th overall now, 58 seconds behind the red jersey of Gilbert. Wednesday is a supposedly flat day to Lorca, so maybe I can recover a little.

I am up to fifth overall in the white jersey's combined classification, awarded to the rider with the highest placings on all of the various other classifications added together. I could aim for that, but it would mean that I would have to contest the bunch sprint if there is one tomorrow and I would also have to do the intermediate sprints, but for the moment, I am happy to keep riding for the overall and see how that goes.

Vuelta a Espana
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 1st, 2010, 12:37 pm

Another great read. Roche is becoming a very good all-rounder - he seems to be improving his time-trialling and most of all his climbing. You'd wonder will he make it past the "ultra-domestique" level and be a serious race contender or not. For the moment it's great to see him at the sharp end of most stages and races. As a rider chasing GC, there's not much excitement from him as far as breaks or sprints go, but he's geting more and more consistent.

Schleck (Frank) did an Andy on it and lost his chain right when a break was going off. He's down a bit in GC but not out of it. Same for Menchov - can't afford to lose any more time before they hit the serious stuff. You'd have to fancy the likes of Anton, Mosquera and Rodriguez the way they've been riding.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby olaf the fat » September 1st, 2010, 1:40 pm

Laurent Fignon -RIP
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 2nd, 2010, 5:24 pm

Roche finished 10th in todays stage, all of the main contenders were in a bunch of about 60 which crossed the line with the same time. He remains 11th overall 58 seconds behind the leader Gilbert.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby ribs » September 3rd, 2010, 4:13 am

How many stages in the Vuelta?
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 3rd, 2010, 9:40 am

ribs wrote:How many stages in the Vuelta?


It lasts for 3 weeks i think they have 2 rest days, there has only been 5 stages so far.

Here is Roches Diary for yesterday's stage:


Cycling: 'Cyclists have a David Blaine-like capacity to make food disappear'

By Nicolas Roche


Friday September 03 2010

One of the most derogatory terms you can call a racing cyclist is 'fat'.

Any type of racer, from amateur club riders to professional Grand Tour winners, are obsessed about two things: their legs and food. All day, every day.

The Atkins diet. The bikini diet. The cabbage soup diet. Forget them all. Get yourself a bike, ride a three-week Tour and you can eat what you like. Former Irish champion Mark Scanlon famously lost 6kg while riding for Ag2r in a mountain time-trial up Alpe d'Huez during the 2004 Tour de France. How long did it take him? 45 minutes.

Cyclists have a David Blaine-like capacity to make food disappear at a dinner table, especially amateur teams. An average male needs around 2,000 calories a day to maintain his weight. A Tour de France rider can eat almost 10,000 calories a day during the Tour and won't put on any weight. Six or seven hours in the saddle will see to that.

Any extra weight has to be hauled over the mountains, which is why you see the likes of multiple Tour stage winner Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and other sprinters getting dropped on the high climbs.

Before and after each stage, our Ag2r team doctor weighs us to see if we have lost any weight during the stage. A few days before the Vuelta, we all got our body fat measured. Your average, healthy Joe Bloggs has around 15 to 20pc body fat, with an athlete's percentage ranging from 12pc to 15pc . Stage racing cyclists are notoriously lower than that. Mine is around 6pc. Skinny.

At 23 years of age, Biel Kadri is five foot nine and a half and weighs just 10 stone, or 165kg. He is a rake-thin French climber and won a stage of the Route du Sud earlier in the year. Of the whole Ag2r La Mondiale team, Biel had the highest body-fat percentage.

At only 8pc body fat, Biel is by no means overweight. In fact if you saw him walk past, or any of us for that matter, you'd probably say we all need a good feed. But to a cyclist he might as well be morbidly obese and we have been calling him "chubby" since the race began.

The food on the race so far hasn't been anything to write home about. Last night we were at another roadside motel and as we sat down to yet another self-service buffet, Biel walked over the table with a big grin on his face.

He had helped himself to a greasy pile of chicken and some tasty looking Spanish tortillas full of cheese and sauces. Just as he sat down and was preparing to tuck into his dinner, the team doctor walked over, whipped Biel's plate from under him and said. "Forget about it. Get something else." Cue even more slagging for poor Biel.

Today's stage was pretty mundane until about 15km from the bottom of the only climb of the day, the second-category Alto de la Cresta del Gallo. Everybody knew the climb was an ideal place to attack.

The top was only 18km from the finish in Murcia and the descent was brutal, with a really bad road surface and dangerous corners. If you were in a little group going over the top, you could maybe stay away and win the stage. Everybody had the same idea as we approached the bottom of the climb: get to the front at all costs.

The whole team gave me a hand to stay near the front as we approached the foot of the climb. They had their work cut out for them, though, because the constant surges and waves in the peloton meant that I spent about 10km going like a yo-yo from the front to the middle of the bunch in the lead-up to the climb. Each time the guys had to ride out in the wind and bring me up the outside of the bunch into a better position.

I had a good position at the bottom, though, and was comfortable enough on the climb itself, going over the top in about eighth or ninth place. On the way down, however, I lost two or three places because Rabobank leader and two-time Vuelta winner Denis Menchov and a couple of other guys were pushing on me to pass me any time I braked.

It didn't seem to me that the group was going to split on the descent, so I just let them by. I preferred to let them past than take the risk of someone cutting me up on one of the corners and maybe crashing.

There was a long flat bit after the descent and I had Ludovic Turpin and Rinaldo Nocentini with me heading for the finish. Rinaldowanted to try and have a go in the sprint as he hasn't been back to his best since breaking his leg earlier in the season. I told him to try his luck and we both agreed to do our own sprint in the final gallop.

I wasn't really happy with 10th today. I was hoping for a harder sprint but it was too high-speed for me. The finish was too flat for me, with a big tailwind which suited a bigger, more powerful rider. It was no surprise that Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd took the stage from two more sprinters, Daniele Bennati and Grega Bole.

Although the other two had been dropped on the climb, I knew it would be hard to get a good placing in the gallop when they came flying past in a little group with three kilometres to go. Sprinting is all about positioning in the final kilometre or so and I ended the sprint where I started it -- in 10th place.

I'm still 11th overall, but psychologically, it's better to be 10th because you're on the first page of the results on TV, which is the only page they show after the stage. I'm enjoying the racing so far, though, and with a bit of luck, I can be more aggressive and try my hand as the weeks go by.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 3rd, 2010, 1:20 pm

silly punt wrote:Roche finished 10th in todays stage, all of the main contenders were in a bunch of about 60 which crossed the line with the same time. He remains 11th overall 58 seconds behind the leader Gilbert.


Very good ride from Roche again. Hushovd (Norwegian champ who had a good showing in the TDF) took the stage as a good quality sprinter who can handle the punishing climb that led up to the finishing descent and sprint. All the marquee sprinters were out the back somewhere as they struggled to get up the final hill. Roche was only a couple of metres back from Hushovd in the bunch sprint and he outpaced Nocentini (his team's recognised sprinter) as well as a few other guys with a power finish, so I think he's kidding himself if he thinks he could have done much better. Why kill yourself in the sprint anyway, when you're chasing a high GC finish and you're going to get the same time as everyone else if you win the stage? All in all, I think he finished in exactly the right place.

Today's stage has a tough climb in it, but there's plenty of time afterwards for the sprinters to get back up the front before the sprint finish. Cavendish, Farrar and the other sprinters will be favourites today. If you're chasing GC, you just want to get over the line in the bunch. There are some nasty cobbles before the finish line, which could cause a few headaches if the peleton is bunched up hitting them.

The obligatory publicity breakaway will get reeled in, like all the others. There might just be a second break, but I doubt it. Bunch sprint.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 4th, 2010, 11:38 am

Today's stage is the first real major challenge of the tour & should see a shake up at the top of the GC. There are 1 Cat3, 2 Cat2 & 1 Cat1 climbs in todays stage with the final climb coming 4km from the finish. Today is moving day for the contenders.

Roche has ridden strongly over the last few days, if he can stay near the front today it will go a long way towards getting a top10 finish in the tour....
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 5th, 2010, 11:10 am

As predicted yesterdays stage really shook things up. Nicolas Roche rode a pretty stong race coming in 15th 2mins behind the stage winner David Mancoutie.

But the real change came in the GC, Igor Anton took over the race leaders red jersey, but Joaquim Rodriguez is second on the same time, Anton leads by virtue of a better count back in the previous stages. Roche has improved up to 8th on GC 1min19 behind the leader.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 6th, 2010, 12:45 pm

Another tough day on Sunday. A break full of nobodies (in terms of GC contention) was allowed to get away. Roche stayed in with the contenders and is still 8th.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby ribs » September 7th, 2010, 12:42 pm

jezzer wrote:Another tough day on Sunday. A break full of nobodies (in terms of GC contention) was allowed to get away. Roche stayed in with the contenders and is still 8th.

Stayed awake until 2am to see that one completed. Noticed that Roche nearly managed to grab a few seconds in the very last 200m as the bunch split for a moment, but they all regathered at the line. That would have got him to 6th overall. Rest day yesterday. are we expecting fireworks today or tomorrow with a few more climbs?
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 7th, 2010, 2:49 pm

ribs wrote:
jezzer wrote:Another tough day on Sunday. A break full of nobodies (in terms of GC contention) was allowed to get away. Roche stayed in with the contenders and is still 8th.

Stayed awake until 2am to see that one completed. Noticed that Roche nearly managed to grab a few seconds in the very last 200m as the bunch split for a moment, but they all regathered at the line. That would have got him to 6th overall. Rest day yesterday. are we expecting fireworks today or tomorrow with a few more climbs?


Tomorrow is a really tough stage into Andorra....
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 7th, 2010, 8:36 pm

Vuelta starts tomorrow in earnest. Nibali the fav at this point it seems. Roche will do well to stay in the top10.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby silly punt » September 8th, 2010, 4:46 pm

jezzer wrote:Vuelta starts tomorrow in earnest. Nibali the fav at this point it seems. Roche will do well to stay in the top10.


As predicted todays stage was savage, Igor Anton blew the field away & won the stage and also took the race leaders jersey. Some of the favs really found it difficult most notably the overnight leader Rodriguez who lost 1 minute & Denis Menchov was left for dead.

Nicolas Roche finished a very good 13th ahead of a lot of top climbers, he reatins 8th place in the GC but is now 2min30secs behind Anton. Still it has been a great performance to date....
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 8th, 2010, 9:24 pm

Nibali made a balls of it and is now gonna have to do wonders in the time trial. He went for it too early and blew up. anton blasted past him and looks very good for the overall win. Roche looked comfortable. If he sticks like that he could keep his top 10. Philip deignan, the other Irishman in the race, has retired.
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Re: La Vuelta

Postby jezzer » September 9th, 2010, 6:05 pm

Boring stage with a bunch sprint that Cavendish won at a canter - nobody seemed bothered to contest him. Roche still 9th, finishing in the middle of the bunch.
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