Sunday, May 19, 2024

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 6: Tarazona – Jaca 175.4 km


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La Vuelta a España 2012

You have to be impressed by Sky’s riding here at the La Vuelta a España 2012.

There was no show boating or ‘riding into the climb’ – they only went to the front when it really counted.

Henao is strong, as I said in our preview;

“Ninth in the Giro, third in Poland and second in Burgos; those are solid results.

“This is a classy young man who, if Froome falters, is well capable of a high placing in his own right.”

The only thing I got wrong there was that it doesn’t look like Froome will falter.

La Vuelta a España 2012
Henao leads Uran. Photo©Ed Hood

Once Henao had ridden himself into oblivion, it was Uran’s turn, and as I said of him;

“Despite his age this is his seventh season as a professional.”

He has even more potential than Henao and is a very robust string to Froome’s bow.

He won a brutal stage in Catalunya earlier this year and was seventh in the Giro on the way to winning the best young rider prize.

And just last weekend, he took silver in the Olympic road race in London, after 250 brutal kilometres.

There’s a long way to go, but today showed today that Sky are very strong and it’s no certainty that Contador will win.

Sky’s infernal tactic from the Tour was applied again – set such a cruel tempo that no one can attack and when everyone has gone, take the win.

Unless there’s a rocket powered little monkey called Rodriguez on your wheel, that is.

La Vuelta a España 2012
Is JR the monkey on Froome’s back? Photo©Ed Hood

Rodriguez is very hard to beat in a situation like this; it will be interesting to see how he handles the Sky ‘death rhythm’ tactic on the longer, steadier climbs.

Alberto Contador can’t be happy – he simply couldn’t follow Froome when the Englishman made his move at 500 to go when Uran peeled off.

But as Ivan says;

“Wee Bert needs competition in his legs and the last week of the Vuelta isn’t for pussies.”

Rodriguez locked on to Froome like Tom Cruise’s missile guidance system in ‘Top Gun’, but Saxo-Tinkoff’s finest couldn’t match them – nor could Alejandro Valverde.

The likes of Anton, Mollema, Gesink and Cobo all lost time – not disastrously so, but then it wasn’t a long climb.

And it has to be said that Cobo was one of the last to go – he looks to me like he’s riding in to a little form and lies tenth on GC.

A man who would be well in the top ten (he’s 18th @ 02:17 on GC) but for his team’s disastrous team time trial, Garmin’s Andrew Talansky lost a little time too, but this wasn’t his kind of hill.

La Vuelta a España 2012
Andrew at the head of affairs.

You’ll probably remember Andrew as the man who was second to Bradley Wiggins in the Tour of Romandie.

We spoke to him just before the Vuelta started, and not long after his classy win in the Tour de l’Ain – here’s what he had to say:

Are you still based in Lucca, Italy Andrew?

“No, I moved to Girona in Spain in January, it’s a nice place and better for training – there are a lot of Garmin riders living there, too.”

Your season started well – top ten in the Algarve.

“I had a good winter but I got sick before Paris-Nice; that was really disappointing because I was looking forward to the time trial up the Col d’Eze.

“I rode Tirreno instead but I was there just to get through it and get a couple of extra days racing.”

Romandie was good for you.

“It was a nice result after a rough patch; I went to Romandie from la Sarthe.

“Numbers-wise my condition was pretty standard, but the course really suited me.

“I rode the time trial course in the morning and was smiling to myself as I rode – if I had to design a mountain time trial to suit me, then that would be it!”

Poland was your warm up for l’Ain.

“I was coming back in that race, what we hadn’t realised was that I have allergies – they don’t affect me in Europe but there was something in the air in the Tour of California which inflamed my bronchial tubes.

“The team said that the best way to prepare for the Vuelta after that would be do some altitude work then ride Poland.

“On stage one I wasn’t super; but by the end I was feeling good – and was in good shape going into l’Ain.”

The first two stages in l’Ain went to Hutarovich.

“Yeah, bunch finishes – I’ve never had any desire to compete in those!”

The third stage was a TTT.

“It wasn’t one of our best; but it was good preparation for the Vuelta TTT – but fourth place isn’t bad for an ‘off’ day.”

La Vuelta a España 2012
Andrew and his team can manage a TTT even on an ‘off-day’.

Saxo-Tinkoff’s Navarro won the fourth stage and you were third.

“There was a huge split in the peloton – that happens in French races – with maybe 30 guys away, but that whittled down to 10.

‘There were two QuickSteps and two Saxos; when Navarro went I expected the QuickSteps to chase – but they didn’t.

“You can’t cover everything and that wasn’t what you’d have expected – but I got third on the stage.”

You made your move on the fifth stage.

“I hadn’t expected the split the day before – but it was perfect for me. The stage came down to a sprint with three of us – I took it and the lead in the GC.

“I love racing in that area, it’s not far from where Romandie is held – the roads are tricky and technical with lots of twists and turns.

“I’m not sure I’d be so enthusiastic if I was racing there in the rain, though!

“I’m not a pure climber, more of a ‘Wiggins type’ who can take his TT power and use it to climb.

“Climbs which are longer and steadier are good for me – but my climbing is progressing and in a year or two I think I’ll be at the level I’d like to be at.”

The final day would be about defence?

“It was pretty simple for me – I had time in hand, a strong team and no need to attack.

“Movistar made it a hard race but couldn’t drop me – 20 went up the road, but they were all 20 minutes down.

“Christophe Le Mevel was terrific that day, he was yo-yo-ing off the back on the last climb, but got back and then rode the last 20 k on the front so hard that no one think about attacking me.”

Did the shorter stage at l’Ain suit your style?

“No, I prefer longer stages which wear people down; everyone can go full gas for three-and-a-half hours but not everyone can do it for five or six hours!”

And you went well in San Sebastian?

“I’ve never done the race before but it’s a nice event – I had doubts going into it but was pleased with my ride.

“San Sebastian is World Tour – to win the Tour de l’Ain is one thing; but World Tour races, and then the Vuelta are something different again.”

The Vuelta was you first Grand Tour, in 2011.

“Last season had highs and lows; the team threw me into some big races – it may have hurt at the time but it’s paying big dividends in 2012.

“Last year was mentally and physically tough – I suffered in Poland but did my job for Tyler Farrar and Dan Martin at the Vuelta.

“And I finished the race and stayed safe – the 2011 Vuelta has paid dividends for this year.

“I’m prepared for the good days and bad days which you have at a Grand Tour – consistency is the key.

“I’m not in a position to ride for the podium – but I think I can ride for a solid GC position.”

Are the Worlds on the agenda?

“In my mind I believe that my TT results show that if you put me on a hilly course then I can get a result.

“I’d also like to ride the TTT at the Worlds, but it’s a little close to finish of the Vuelta.

“And I’d love to make the road squad for Limburg.

“Stage seven tomorrow, and it finishes on a motor racing circuit; just right for Degenkolb – or will the break ‘stick?”

¡Hasta manana!

Results - La Vuelta a España 2012 - Stage 6

Stage Result

1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:35:22
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:05
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:10
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank 0:00:19
5 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
7 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:25
8 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:28
9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:33
11 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:35
12 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Movistar Team
13 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin – Sharp 0:00:39
14 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre – ISD 0:00:44
15 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan
16 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:00:47
17 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
18 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
19 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:50
20 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:51
21 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
22 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
23 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team
24 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Astana Pro Team
25 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Radioshack-Nissan
26 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan 0:00:57
27 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
28 Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre – ISD
29 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Garmin – Sharp 0:01:00
30 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:01:02
31 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:01:09
32 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:13
33 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
34 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:01:33
35 Marcos Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural
36 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:01:38
37 Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack-Nissan 0:01:42
38 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
39 Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team
40 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
41 Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Por) Caja Rural
42 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-Dcm Pro Cycling Team 0:02:02
43 Yohann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
44 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:17
45 Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:19
46 Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Liquigas-Cannondale
47 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:25
48 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:32
49 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Caja Rural 0:02:44
50 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano 0:03:00
51 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Argos-Shimano
52 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa)