Ride the Puddles

La Vuelta a Espana 2010: Stage 17 #lavuelta #vuelta

Posted by bikezilla on September 15, 2010

Pez, Cycling New

Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) was expected to lose up to three minutes in today’s timetrial (TT). He was also expected to be able to make that much time back on the final day of climbing.

To me, stealing back three minutes seemed impossibly ambitious. Since he actually lost 4:19 and sits 3’45” behind Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), I’m wondering if even a podium spot is within reach (I also wonder if he’s so damned confident and slick that he was playing possum, today, but we’ll ignore that possibility for today).

Maybe. Saxo Bank’s Frank Schleck is just 1″ ahead and has really only had one great day and HTC’s Peter Velits HTC, who hasn’t done anything spectacular this Vuelta, until today, is 2′ up on Rodriguez.

To me, neither seems like a serious threat to Rodriguez in the mountains, though Schleck may have been if he hadn’t crashed out of the Tour.

Velits couldn’t hang with Rodriguez during Stage 16’s climb of Cotobello, so we have no reason to suspect that he won’t lose time in a couple days during Stage 20’s Bola del Mundo climb.

Denis Menchov somehow managed not to wipe out for no reason whatsoever during a TT, and jumped ahead of Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara along with Velits, taking second.

At first you might think, “Hey, no one really thought about what a great TT guy Menchov is (when he can keep his bike upright)” and you’d be right, except that since he’s still over an hour down on the GC “it doesn’t matter in the least.” (to quote Mr. Turkentine).

Fabian has spent the Vuelta complaining about how hard it’s been. It looks like he wasn’t exaggerating. For anyone else, 3rd place in a Grand Tour’s TT would be an amazing result, but for Fabian (or his fans) it’s kind of a surprising let down.

Vincenzo Nibali didn’t blow anyone away, but finished well enough to take the Red (leader’s) Jersey away from my guy Rodriguez. What did today take out of him? He’s right to keep an eye on Mosquera, who isn’t the strongest or fastest, but seems damned near unbreakable.

Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacabeo)? Dude, how much can this guy suffer? And I don’t just mean today, though his 20th place finish today let him jump to 2nd place in the GC.

More than that, it at first made me wonder how a guy who has been chronically poor at timetrials could suddenly become a TT stud. But 20th is not so good that it’s really suspicious and his move into 2nd was also helped by his nearest rivals failing to perform as well as they needed to.

There’s still that voice in my head whispering a little “Yeah, but . . .”, but I can pretend not to hear it, for now.

Mosquera has worked so damned hard this Vuelta, inching his way ever higher in the GC. I’d really be crushed to learn that he’d doped.


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