Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Vuelta Pais Vasco - Stage 3 Preview
It's a stage for the explosive riders and without any bonus seconds on the line, the pure climbers without a strong time trial - like Igor Antón and Sergio Henao - need to distance their rivals. Euskaltel were out training on the climb a couple of days ago and Igor Antón has already stated he wants to do something great in this race. The finish on Arrate (Stage 4) doesn't really suit him, so if he wants a stage win, this is the stage to win.
Naturally it won't be easy with Alberto Contador and Team Sky in the race. Contador is looking very strong right now and I'm sure he will be eager to take another win in the Basque race. Team Sky have been outstanding so far this year and even though everybody is talking about Richie Porte, I think Sergio Henao will be the man for this stage. The steep gradients suit Henao a lot better than Porte and don't forget Henao took 3rd place on the steep finish in last year's race.
Movistar's Nairo Quintana has been superb uphill the last month, but I don't think this short finish is good for him. Quintana likes it steep, yes, but not very short like this one. Also, Nairo Quintana wasn't planned to do the race as he were in France doing Tour de France recon with Alejandro Valverde just a few days before he was called up. I think Beñat Intxausti, despite his crash and time loss on stage 1, will be the team leader for Movistar.
For outsiders look to Wout Poels and Tom-Jelte Slagter. Both are very explosive and good on the steep gradients. Poels were great in Tirreno-Adriatico, considering his crash in Tour de France last year, and Slagter showed in Tour Down Under that he has what it takes to beat the elite on a short uphill finish.
It's difficult to pick a winner and I woud like to say both Antón, Henao and Contador, but if I have to pick one I'll have to say Contador. Still, don't be surprised if Euskaltel get their first win of the season on La Lejana.
Winner picks: Alberto Contador
Jokers: Wout Poels / Tom-Jelte Slagter
For live coverage of the stage go to steephill.tv