Saturday, August 25, 2012

Vuelta Preview - Stage 9

It’s the last stage before the first rest day and many riders are tired after more than a week in 35°c. It’s the second longest stage in this Vuelta España and I think it would suit the peloton perfectly if a break could get away. That being said there are quite a lot of riders who will have marked this stage in the race book for a potential sprint in Barcelona.

The stage is 196,3 km but actually it’s only the final 5 km you should be concerned about. Entering Barcelona the peloton faces Alto de Montjuic up to the Olympic stadium. It’s only 1,1 km long but an average gradient of 8,1% should bring the attacking feeling out in the many riders. From the top of Montjuic there are only 3,4 km to go and if a strong rider gets a gap he will be difficult to catch on the tricky descent before the last 700 meters uphill.

The final 5 km of stage 9 - click for larger view!
I know for a fact that Danish Matti Breschel has this stage red-circled and I’m sure he will try go for it if it comes to a sprint. Still I have to say my favorite for the win will be have to be Gianni Meersman (look ma', - not Swift!). 

The Belgian sprinter has shown super shape in the first week and he even managed to stay with the best a long way up the nasty finish in Jaca where he ended 19th on the stage. Lotto-Belisol haven’t really much to do in this race without Jurgen Van den Broeck going for the GC and if they are to get any kind of success Gianni Meersman will definitely be their best card to play.

For a joker I put my faith in Pim Ligthart. Vacansoleil-DCM have - as always - been very active in the breaks so far in this Vuelta but so far without getting much out of it. Thomas de Gendt came close the other day and same de Gendt told me before the Vuelta to keep an eye on Ligthart. So far the former Dutch champion hasn’t shown much but I think that if he can stay near the front on Montjuic he could be a good joker for the stage.

I can only pick one joker, but I would like to point out that this finish also suits Simon Clarke perfectly! I don’t know if GreenEdge want to give Davis another chance but in my opinion they should let Clarke have a crack at it. Purito has also said he would like to something in his home town and together with Dani Moreno, Katusha could really spice up this stage if they attack on Montjuic!

Winner pick: Gianni Meersman
Joker: Pim Ligthart

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: José Joaquin Rojas
Joker: Biel Kadri

Explanation: The easy money is on John Degenkolb making it four but that tricky Montjuic climb towards the end could well prove too hard for Argos Shimano to control. Jose Rojas has been quiet so far but he should get over the rise and then have enough juice to take the sprint in Barcelona. As for a wildcard, Biel Kadri is a nice all rounder who could pull off a win from a break. It's a bit of a stab in the dark, but that's the point of choosing a joker!

Overall score:

Felix 6 points
Mikkel 3 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.

1 comment:

  1. 1/9 ..... You must study harder tris Vuelta