Friday, August 17, 2012

Vuelta Preview - Stage 1

Have you ever wondered how it would be to do the classic Basque ‘San Fermin’ bull run on a top class bicycle? Well if you are among the few with that kind of desires you should be doing the Vuelta España this year. Not only does the race start out in Pamplona but the course for the opening team time trial actually includes the final parts of the bull run route finishing inside the bullfighting arena.

Miguel Indurain has been helping out designing this spectacular route and the former grand champion points out how important it is to get the machine running smoothly in the first part of the route. The stage starts out on big roads without any real danger and this is where the teams need to get into time trial mode as fast as possible. 

Teams with big engines like Quickstep (Tony Martin) and Team Sky (Chris Froome & Richie Porte) will have an advantage in the beginning before the roads become narrow and the corners tricky and if they can manage to keep the lead I expect them to have at the check point, I think they will be difficult to catch if they can avoid crashes in the last part of the stage.

One of the teams that could surprise on this course is Katusha. In the Giro they came out of nowhere and took 2nd place after Garmin. A huge surprise at the time and if they can repeat that perfect performance this time (remember they even have Menchov to help out now), I think Purito will be able to take some valuable time on Contador and Antón from the very beginning of the Vuelta.

Winner pick: Team Sky
Joker: Katusha

To make this Vuelta a little bit more interesting I’ve challenged Eurosport blogger Blazin' Saddles to a winner pick duel during the race. You have my winner and joker picks above, here you have Felix':

Winner pick: Team Sky
Joker: Garmin

Explanation: Usually, Garmin boss these kind of events but Jonathan Vaughters has sent a team of relative unknowns (plus a former doper riding his first major race since 2007) and so the inculcated robots of Team Sky have to be favourites. But if the Garmin boys can keep true to their team's ethos, then an upset could be on the cards. To be fair, none of the teams on paper – not least the Spanish ones – seem entirely comfortable against the clock as a unit, but the time losses won't be huge because it's not a very long course. Perhaps they should release some of Pamplona's famous bulls to up the ante a little...

No comments:

Post a Comment