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VUELTA’21: The Second Rest Day Rant

The second week as seen by Ed Hood

Vuelta a España Rest Day Rant #2: Ed Hood wishes he was at la Vuelta a España this week, especially on those big climbs in the north of Spain, you can read his thoughts on the Lagos de Covadonga HERE. Ed looks back at last week’s stages and forward to the final six stages of the 2021 Vuelta all the way to Santiago de Compostela on Sunday.

The emotions of the second week of la Vuelta

STAGE 10:
‘Why not?’ Primoz Roglič’s answer when asked why he was taking those BiG risks on the day’s main descent in the final of the stage after attacking hard on the day’s only, very late climb. That attack was a statement by the race ‘Capo;’ ‘if you want attacks, how about this one?’ In the event it gained him another half minute on the INEOS duo of Bernal and Yates but it could have been a minute on the British Grenadiers; and 30 seconds on the Movistar duo of Lopez and Mas who got back up to him after the Slovenian over cooked it and wrote off ANOTHER pair of shorts. One thing, we can’t accuse the man of being boring.

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New shorts Mr. Roglič?

Happiest men of the day?
Michael Storer, taking his second stage of the race – but even happier will be the management at Groupama FDJ for whom the man from Perth has signed with for the next two years. Those two stage wins would have been a big fulcrum for his agent to enlist and FDJ could certainly use a proven Grand Tour stage winner now that Arnaud Demare’s mojo is in the long grass somewhere.

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What’s in store for Storer?

And the management at Intermarché Wanty Gobert Materiaux will be ecstatic at putting their second rider into roja, after Rein Taaramäe’s early tenure, in the shape of Norway’s Odd Christian Eiking who’ll be the toast of his nation; Vikings don’t take Grand Tour leaders’ jerseys too often. ‘Riding themselves in’, after the rest day? Not today. . .

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Odd in red at the end of stage 10

Stage 10 on board cameras

 

STAGE 11:
We begin with Primoz again, who else? ‘Robot’, they were calling the man but the fact is that he has a sense of humour, his ‘sound bites’ in English get better all the time and he has panache; his attack yesterday went wrong but it was a daring move – then today, well, you can’t get much better than winning the stage and putting more time into all your GC rivals.

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Where are they?

He’s a ‘marginal gainer’ for sure, each day he adds another few seconds to his margin over the two Movistars – great six day song, by the way, ‘Movistar’ by Harpo from 1976 – who are his biggest rivals.

Movistar – Even Alejandro Valverde isn’t old enough to remember

His margins over Mas, Lopez, Haig, Bernal and Yates aren’t huge but grow by the day; and crash – which he does do – and ‘jour sans’ – which he doesn’t – apart he looks every inch a winner, especially with that closing chrono if he needs to pull the fat out of the fire. Our man on the Kattegat had tipped us off that today was one for one of his longboat men compatriots, we thought he was talking about Lotto Soudal’s 23 year-old Andreas Kron – who finished in 14th place on the savage finish climb – but the Dane in question was actually Stage Six winner and break of the day survivor, Magnus Cort who was only reeled in with the line in sight. You win some. . .

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Simon Carr – He’ll be back

Another disappointment for EF was the DNF against young, up-and-coming Brit, Simon Carr, he said on social media;
“Unfortunately had to call it a day @lavuelta after 11 stages. Still suffering from the effects of successive crashes on stages 8 and 9 (mainly pain around my sacrum due to the first one). I had hoped the rest day would give me time to get back on track. However, yesterday was another difficult day spending 80k off the back. Then, if anything I felt worse today… One positive is I have no fracture, so I’m confident I’ll be back at my best level for the end of the season!” He’s young, strong and motivated so as Arnold might say; ‘He’ll be back!’

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Dreams of green gone for Jasper

Also slipping quietly off the race as DNS were double stage winner, Jasper Philpsen, citing ‘a virus’ – which might well be that well known sprinters’ condition, ‘mountain aversion’, – and long term Stage One time test ‘hot seat’ squatter, Alex Aranburu sadly suffering from crash injuries; ciao. . .

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Odd still in red

Last word to Wanty – yes, I know, I’m a fan – a brave defence from Odd Christian Eiking who heads for Cordoba resplendent in roja. CHAPEAU!

Stage 11 last kilometre

 

STAGE 12:
‘THE Dane in Spain wins the stage again’. Magnus Cort, wow!

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Happy Cort

EF may have lost Hugh Carthy and Simon Carr to the fortunes of war, but the man from the historic Baltic Sea island of Bornholm has given them plenty to rejoice over. So close yesterday, he made no mistake today. As the old Belgians might say, ‘the boy has diamonds in the legs right now, eh?’ BUT on the subject of Belgians, the Dane’s team mate, Jens Keukeleire ‘done a Mørkøv’ and gave him a perfect lead out leaving the Michael Matthews and the BikeExchange boys flat footed.

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Bardet working on the KOM

This was one rapid day, nigh on a 52kph average for the first 80K and on what I thought would be a ‘breakaway day’ it was an elite group of 40 riders sprinting for glory in ancient and beautiful Cordoba. News of the day, apart from the speed and Cort’s ‘double’ – Odd Christian kept his roja a jersey; Bardet crept closer to Caruso’s mountains lead and Primoz fell off, natch. . .

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Another crash and another chase for Roglič

And my usual peek at the nether regions of the race revealed some interesting names in the last gruppo on the road; at no less than 22 minutes – Spanish Champion, Omar Fraile, former Spanish Champion, Leon Luis Sanchez, double Paris-Nice winner and German Champion, Max Schachmann, not to mention former Giro winner and reigning Olympic Champion, Richard Carapaz.
Too long a season or just making sure they get to go in the break? The next stages will reveal the answers.

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Andreas Kron – A man to watch

And to close on more things Danish – fifth today was the man I keep mentioning, Andreas Kron [Lotto Soudal] and further north, in Belgium, Mikkel Honore [Deceuninck – Quick-Step] was second to boy wonder Belgian team mate Remco in the Druivenkoers Overijse. They’re everywhere, those Danska boys. . .

Stage 12 highlights

 

STAGE 13:
‘This is cycling, you can be the main favourite but things don’t always turn out the way you wanted. The team did a perfect lead-out, but the legs were full of lactic acid and I could see that before the last two kilometres, so I just told Florian that he should sprint and I’m happy that he finished it off. I’m sure other opportunities will come and we will go for them.’

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Another for Patrick’s boys

It’s that simple if you’re one of them Deceuninck boys, Fabio didn’t have the legs but Florian did and win number 52 went on the board; soon to be 53 courtesy of Remco up in Brussels. But it just underlines the strength in depth of the window and floor men – Senechal’s usual role is as a lead out man and yet here he is winning a Grand Tour stage. Jakobsen did however pick up intermediate sprint points to bolster his already impressive lead in the points competition – 200 points to Magnus Cort’s 114 but as Alastair, my editor pointed out, it’s by no means cast in stone that he’ll be in green come the Santiago de Compostella finish line.

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Nothing is ‘for sure’ when it comes to the green jersey for Jakobsen

Roglič is in third place in the contest on 106 points and will doubtless score many more in the mountains whilst the only numbers Jakobsen will be thinking about in the Sierras will be the minutes and seconds of the time cut for the three horrible summit finish stages to come in the last week. And a look at the DNS for the day reveals that Schachmann and Fraile weren’t ‘playing possum’ in the lower reaches of the GC yesterday but have headed home – it’s a cruel sport.

Stage 13 last kilometre

 

STAGE 14:
Back in 2012 when Roman Kreuziger was an Astana man he picked up a nice stage win in the Giro, a six hour mountain epic. But when it was suggested to Astana management that they must be pleased with the Czech’s performance, the reply was a dry; ‘we didn’t come her to win stages.’ They had come to win the Giro.

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Big day for Bardet

So whilst DSM will be happy with Bardet’s win today, let’s remember that this is a man who has twice stood on the podium of the Tour de France and a race as mountainous as this one should be right up his street. All that said, I do like the man, his descending is spectacular and he can ride himself beyond the pale – have a look at pictures of him after the closing Marseille time trial in the 2017 Tour having defended his GC podium place.

Marseille - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Romain BARDET (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 20 Marseille ITT, 22.50 km Time trial individual - foto Tim Van Wichelen / Cor Vos © 2017
Bardet ‘can ride himself beyond the pale’

And what’s this? Arnaud Démare in the break? – perhaps he’s trying to, ‘do a Guido Bontempi’ and reinvent himself as a winner from the breakaway? Or perhaps it was management saying to him; ‘do something, Arnaud, anything, please!’ INEOS ‘star of the future’ Tom Pidcock was in the break too, why? Shouldn’t he be saving those watts for the service of Bernal and Yates and their podium bids?

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A last blast from the olympic road champion, Carapaz

But not that of Carapaz, who was DNF today – one race too many for the Olympic Champion. However, I’m sitting at a desk tapping away at a laptop, not holding a steering wheel and radio mic in the team car – perhaps INEOS management have decided that the GC die is cast with Roglič and the Movistars too high an obstacle to clear and the headlines will have to come by other means?

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‘Superhuman’ powers from the leaders jersey for Eiking

We’re all aware of the power of the maillot jaune to lift riders to higher levels of performance; but who knew roja had the same powers? Sunday’s Stage 15 will be Odd Christian Eiking’s sixth day of race leadership for those Wanty Boys, Cofidis’ classy climber Guillaume Martin is at less than a minute from the Norwegian and covets the jersey but the Wantys like things just fine the way they are and are guarding it jealously – great to see.

Stage 14 highlights

 

STAGE 15:
A funny old stage, a crazy fast start then a tad processional finale. Majka was back to his old cheeky Tour de France stage winning self on a day we perhaps expected more of? But what of Odd Christian Eiking?

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Eiking finished stage 15 well taking 6th place

As INEOS DS always used to tell me in his rider days, with Liquigas, Lotto and ISD; ‘a Grand Tour is won in the third week,’ so perhaps we shouldn’t get too excited about Eiking’s chances of a podium place in this race? That said, the magical powers of roja have instilled great confidence into the Norwegian and his team, who rode with flair today in defence of the jersey. The team sponsors must be ecstatic at how their men have gone about their business.

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Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux was there for their man in red

However next week we have three huge stages; Stage 16 is for the breakaway, the teams with little or nothing to show for this Vuelta will be on the offensive for sure. Stage 17 is up to the mythical Lagos de Covadonga with not one but two ascents of the tough La Collada Llomena climb en route. This day will see Wanty’s mettle severely tested.

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Stage 18 to the Altu d’El Gamoniteiru

Stage 18 is the toughest of the race finishing as it does atop the huge Altu d’El Gamoniteiru climb, featuring for the first time in the Vuelta – 15K @ 10 to 12 percent.

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Stages 19 and 20

Stage 19 is for the break again with even more desperation evident from those who’s ‘cupboard is bare’ but Stage 20 is another GC day with a tough mountain top finish on the Castro de Herville climb.

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Roglič in red before or after the stage 21 time trial?

Stage 21 is Roglič’s insurance policy, if he needs it, 34 rolling kilometres against the clock.

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Take it easy today Egan, you’ll need it next week

Savour the rest day gentlemen, it’s gonna be a hard final week at the coal face. . .

Stage 15 highlights

 

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 15:
1. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in 59:57:50
2. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 0:54
3. Primoz Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 1:36
4. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar at 2:11
5. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar at 3:04
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious at 3:35
7. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:21
8. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 4:34
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma at 4:59
10. Felix Großschartner (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:31
11. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:04
12. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 6:16
13. Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious at 6:47
14. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 7:07
15. David de la Cruz (Spa) UAE Team Emirates at 7:11
16. Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 11:08
17. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 14:46
18. Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates at 26:20
19. Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis at 26:35
20. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 28:21
21. Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar at 31:12
22. Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 37:04
23. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 38:47
24. Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 39:52
25. Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 41:42.

 

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