Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vuelta Preview - Stage 12

Purito managed to keep the red leader’s jersey with just 1 second after the time trial and now it’s time to make the gap bigger. This is another stage tailor made for Purito and unless a breakaway makes it, it will be a massive surprise if Purito doesn’t take yet another stage win in this Vuelta.

The stage follows the coast line up north from Vilagarcía de Arousa to Dumbría and on paper it looks totally flat - that is, until the last 1900 meters up to Mirador de Ézaro. The average gradient shows 13,5% and with parts up to 25% it sure is perfect for Purito. There are 12 bonus seconds on the line and with three hard mountain stages, starting after Friday, in a row it would be good for Purito to have a bigger gap to Alberto Contador who - as expected - seems to get stronger and stronger every day.

Let the suffering begin! Mirador de Ézaro -1,9km 13,5% avg. 
The fact that everybody knows Purito is the big favorite also means that only few teams - if any - will help Katusha catch the break. Therefore it’s very important for the Russian team that only a tiny break gets off in the beginning. With such a hard week ahead, there is now way they will used up their whole team chasing back a strong break just for Purito to gain a few seconds. Still I’m pretty sure this will end up with the favorites fighting for the win and as you can see I have no doubts Purito will win such a fight.

In case of a break makes it I would like to pick Jan Bakelants as my joker - again. As mentioned before Bakelants has been very showing some great shape in the recent weeks and he is not afraid of attacking either. Furthermore he is fast and even though an extremely steep finish as this one doesn’t suit him perfectly he is still very explosive in an uphill finish.

Winner pick: Purito
Joker: Jan Bakelants

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: Philippe Gilbert
Joker: Tiago Machado

Explanation: Looking at the finish, I'm tempted to go for either Rodriguez or Moreno - that ramp seems tailor-made - but the Katusha pair may hold back until the weekend's mountain stages. Gilbert showed that he's riding back into form in Barcelona and that may have been the mental boost he needed. After all, the Belgian won these kinds of stages for fun last year. The likes of Tiralongo, Roche and Rabobank's top ten trio could be dangerous too. As for my wildcard, I first went or local rider Gustavo Cesar, who owes a win to all those people who painted his name in the road for the time trial. But instead, how about Tiago Machado? RadioShack need a win and we're not too far away from the Portuguese border. Plus Machado is no longer any threat on GC. 

Overall score:
Felix 9 points
Mikkel 6 points 

Right winner pick gives 3 points, if the joker wins it's 5 points while it's 1 points if the joker makes top3 on the stage.

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