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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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Vuelta A España Stage 10 Time Trial

Today's Vuelta stage is a 36.7 km individual time trial with a third-category climb (5% gradient) that crests at the 11th kilometer. While it's a given that riders like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara will do well and one of them may win the stage, the bigger question is about the GC men and how the day will affect their overall times.

The General Classification top five riders are clustered together, all within 30 seconds of each other and the top ten have a spread of only 86 seconds. Here are the standings of the top ten after stage nine.

1 Nairo Alexander Quintana  Movistar Team 35hr 58min 5sec
2 Alberto Contador Tinkoff - Saxo @ 3 seconds
3 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team + 8''
4 Winner Anacona Lampre Merida + 9''
5 Christopher Froome Team SKY + 28''
6 Joaquin Rodriguez Team Katusha + 30''
7 Fabio Aru Astana Pro Team + 1' 06''
8 Robert Gesink Belkin Pro Cycling Team + 1' 19''
9 Rigoberto Uran Omega Pharma - Quick-Step + 1' 26''
10 Warren Barguil Team Giant - Shimano + 1' 26''

I think the most vulnerable is Nairo Quintana. At the 2014 Giro's stage 12 Barolo 41.9 km time trial, Quintana lost 2 minutes, 41 seconds to stage winner Rigoberto Uran. Quintana went on to win the 2014 Giro, but this was in spite of his time trial skills, not because of them.

And that brings us to Uran, sitting in ninth place. He could pull off another surprise. In any case, he's really good against the clock, as are Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. Both Froome and Contador have forms that are ciphers. We really don't know what they can do each day, but Froome doesn't seem to have that scintillating power that has let him have his way with the others in the past and Contador seems to be getting better every day. I'm going out on a limb here, but I guessing Contador will be in red this afternoon and Uran will move into the top five.

Rigoberto Uran

Rigoberto Uran riding the 2014 Giro stage 12. Photo ©Sirotti

Here's the Tinkoff-Saxo statement about the time trial:

Tinkoff-Saxo and Alberto Contador held a press conference on the first rest day of Vuelta a España after the team had been on a recon ahead of tomorrow’s time trial. Alberto Contador told that he expects to keep the momentum from the previous stages.

“Tomorrow will be a good test to see exactly how my physical condition is. I don’t want to draw wrong conclusions after yesterday's stage so I’ll wait for tomorrow to reach a verdict on my shape”, says the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo.
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Alberto Contador tells that the initial success he has had during the first part of the Spanish Grand Tour has encouraged him and furthered his ambitions.

“I’m now able to say that I will try to win the Vuelta. Another thing is if I have the legs or not. Even after the two mountain stages, I still don’t know it exactly. I have to wait until after the time trial to reach a final verdict. Since the start of the Vuelta, I’ve been focused on taking it day-by-day, but I think I'm getting better and I can say that I will try to win”, Contador adds.

When faced with the question about, who the favorite to win the Vuelta is, Alberto answered:

“The favorites are the same as they were in the beginning, Quintana and Froome, who’s expected to be the strongest in the time trial. But Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde are also in contention. Apart from all the action that we’ve seen so far, there are almost no time differences and the favorites are all very close in the overall classification”.

Alberto Contador won Vuelta a España in 2012. But he doesn’t reckon that he’s stronger than he was in 2012.

“The truth is that I am not better. The difference between now and 2012 is that two years ago there was a particularly strong rider, Joaquim Rodriguez, who always responded to changes of pace and attacked me on the final meters of each stage. We’ve not yet seen mountain stages like those, but I think he was better in 2012”, explains the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo.

Today, before the team’s press conference, the riders, including captain Alberto Contador, went to inspect the route of tomorrow’s time trial.

“When you see the parcours it looks even harder than it seems on paper. The first part is uphill, with some really tough ramps, and then there’s a very fast descent on a very uneven and difficult road. The last part, however, is fast and regular. For sure, it will be really tough”.

The expectations that met Alberto Contador going into the Vuelta were incomparable to those of Tour de France. Taking his injury into consideration, Alberto didn’t have high expectations and he has consequently been able to ride with less pressure – not least from himself.

“I didn’t start the Vuelta with the same expectations as before the Tour and I will continue without excess ambitions. I’ve experienced the affection from all the people supporting me and that’s a reason to come here in itself. There’s certainly not the same pressure on me and I’ve noticed that when there’s a breakaway, for example, I look at the situation from a different point of view, without the same sense of responsibility”, concludes the two-time winner of Vuelta a España.   

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