After two relatively easy stages, the classification riders can get back to work in the Vuelta a España. The second weekend of the stage race is extremely tough with two uphill finishes, as a Vuelta should be. Saturday it is time for the mountain ride to the Alto de la Farrapona, although the run-up is also very difficult. How tricky? And who have a chance? Cycling Flash looks ahead.
The second weekend of the Vuelta is only for the climbers of this world. The mythical and infamous Alto de l’Angliru awaits on Sunday, but the stage on Saturday 31 October is also clear. In the eleventh stage, the finish is after a solid mountain stage on the Alto de la Farrapona. Rein Taaramäe (2011) and Alberto Contador (2014) already triumphed on this vile climb in the recent cycling past. Who will join this list?
When the riders gather in Villaviciosa for the start, the final climb will not immediately be considered. After all, before there can be fought for the stage victory, serious climbing is required. The principality of Asturias makes it difficult for the drivers with the ascent of the Alto de la Campa from the start. It is only a third category climb, but it is not good income. And it gets a lot worse.
After all, after about fifty kilometers of cycling, the first of four mountains of the first category awaits. Starting with the Alto de la Colladona, a climb of seven kilometers at 6.5 percent. It is a fairly regular climb and compared to the three subsequent climbs it is doable. The Alto de la Cobertoria is a lot more difficult. The dry statistics indicate 9.8 kilometers at 9%, but the gradient also goes into double digits for several kilometers, with 13 percent as the maximum.
This also applies to the Port of San Lorenzo. 10 kilometers climbing, 8.6% average. As with the final slope, the devil is mainly in the tail. For three kilometers, more than ten percent is followed by a kilometer at thirteen percent. Nothing compared to the Angliru waiting for the riders a day later, but nonetheless very unpleasant for all non-climbers. Even in the invariably winding descents of all mountains, it is important to stay alert.
In the last 25 kilometers of the stage, there is almost only going uphill. The Alto de la Farrapona according to the organization of the Vuelta, however, only starts at 16.5 kilometers from the finish. With those numbers it is by far the longest climb of the day. The average gradient of 6.2 percent, on the other hand, is not that bad compared to the previous climbs. But make no mistake: this number gives a pretty distorted picture.
The start of the Alto de la Farrapona is not particularly difficult – some kilometers are even flat – so the average is more reminiscent of that of a real runner. However, nothing could be further from the truth: during the last four kilometers, the gradient barely drops below ten percent. Spectacular guaranteed in the beautiful nature park of Somiedo!
For the final showdown between the classification toppers in the mountains, we go back to Wednesday, when the finish was at the top of the Alto de Moncalvillo. The run-up to that stage was easier than Saturday’s stage. A strong team can certainly be important in this test with, in total, four steep cols of first category.
photo: Color Vos
Primož Roglič showed on Moncalvillo (and also in Suances) that he has not forgotten how to win. After his loss of time due to fumbling with his raincoat, the Slovenian from Jumbo-Visma took an impressive revenge. The way he stepped on the pedals over and over and put in his decisive gear showed that Roglič had anything but forgotten about the overall victory. If Rogla has the same shape, there is no measure on him. His third stage win in Suances will also have given the necessary confidence.
In addition, he has a very strong team around him at Jumbo-Visma. Tom Dumoulin is no longer there, but mainly Sepp Kuss, George Bennett and also Robert Gesink have shown that they can be of gold value for their leader. The hit and miss American can strike himself on a good day, too. This tactic enables Roglič, who starts in the red leader’s jersey, to put his competitors to work.
photo: Color Vos
Roglič’s biggest competitor is Richard Carapaz, the number two in the rankings, but in the same time as the Slovenian. The climber from Ecuador was able to follow an acceleration of the Slovenian several times on the Alto de Moncalvillo, but had to drop out deep in the final kilometer. Carapaz kept the damage there to 13 seconds, but he lost three seconds in Suances on Friday and so he lost the red leader’s jersey.
That could be a lucky accident for Carapaz. The support from INEOS Grenadiers is nothing compared to the support that Roglič has. It must come to the British team of Iván Ramiro Sosa, Andrey Amador and Dylan van Baarle. Carapaz and co no longer have to bear the course now that the lead is in the hands of Jumbo-Visma. The Ecuadorian is again the hunter and no longer the prey, although he will want to take time on Roglič in view of the time trial.
Also Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) en Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) will want to take time on Roglič. They may benefit from the conflict between Roglič and Carapaz. The experienced Irishman and the young Briton are still within a minute of the red jersey and have shown in recent weeks that they are not inferior to Carapaz and Roglič. But are the two fighting cocks really going to fight each other? Then Martin and Carthy will drop out.
photo: Color Vos
Someone who has sneaked into the top 10 of the general classification is Wout Poels. The Dutch leader of Bahrain McLaren seems to be getting better. He finished fourth at La Laguna Negra and sixth at the Moncalvillo. The steep climbs on the program in this mountain stage are Poels like a glove. The steeper the better. And if possible with very steep inside curves. Will Poels advance to the top 5 of the rankings?
Aleksandr Vlasov is also catching up. The Russian from Astana did not start well at the Vuelta, but shows that he is one of the best climbers in recent mountain stages. Vlasov also feels at home on steep climbs such as the Puerto de San Lorenzo and the Alto de la Farrapona. Is his fourth place at Moncalvillo a precursor? The fact that the Astana leader is more than six minutes in the rankings can make it easier for him to get space from the ranking toppers. That way, Vlasov can also move up in the rankings.
photo: Color Vos
In the top-10 are a few more climbers who will hope for an outlier. Enric Mas (fifth) has not yet been able to fulfill the expectations of his Movistar team. The Spanish armada will think again before chasing Mas all day long. Movistar also always has Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler at the top of the standings to play. Esteban Chaves (seventh) has not yet found the gear needed to win a ride. Will he get through on La Farrapona?
When we look at climbers who have been eliminated from the standings, it’s a good thing Guillaume Martin keep an eye on. The Cofidis climber has meanwhile set two goals for himself: keep the mountain jersey and win a stage. Martin can drag in a ditch of mountain points in this stage, and if the peloton gives space to a leading group… Why can’t the Frenchman also win the stage?
His young countryman Clement Champoussin can bet on the same scenario. The 22-year-old climber of AG2R La Mondiale is already at 25 minutes and showed on the Moncalvillo that he can climb among the best; he was tenth there. Just behind Chaves and ahead of Valverde, Nieve and George Bennett.
Favorites according to WielerFlits
**** Primož Roglič
*** Richard Carapaz, Alexander Vlasov
** Wout Poels, Daniel Martin, Hugh Carthy
* Enric Mas, Esteban Chaves, Guillaume Martin, Clément Champoussin
List of participants Vuelta 2020
Weather and TV
It is fairly sunny on Saturday in starting place Villaviciosa. The temperature reaches 22 degrees Celsius in the early afternoon. On the Alto de la Farrapona, at an altitude of over 1,700 meters, it is slightly cloudy in the afternoon and about 9 to 11 degrees Celsius. The probability of precipitation there is about ten percent.
Sporza starts at 12.10 with the live broadcast. First up Canvas and after the Koppenbergcross the VRT switches to A. Eurosport 1 is also there from the start. The broadcast can be watched without advertising via the online Eurosport Player. From WE broadcasts skating in the afternoon and then possibly switches to the Vuelta. The course can in any case be followed via NOS.nl.
Lap 2020 – Etappe 11
Date: Saturday, October 31
Start: 12:15 pm in Villaviciosa
TV broadcast: 12.10 pm
Finish: between 5 p.m. and 5.35 p.m. Alto de la Farrapona
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