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Vuelta a España picks
Last Post 09/19/2010 09:52 PM by Alexandra Edge. 20 Replies.
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08/26/2010 02:44 AM
Because, honestly, why the hell not. I'm going to do it a little differently this time, though. I'm going to make five picks for each stage and jersey, and give a point value to each them, 5 through 1. We'll then see how many points I end up with. With 21 stages and 4 jerseys, that's 125 possible points. I think getting even a third of those would be pretty impressive. Let's get to it.

Stage 1

This TTT is relatively short (16.5 km) and is pancake flat. I haven't found a map that shows the streets of Seville that will be used, but I imagine the course is largely straight as well, leaving this one for the powerhouses and not the technicians. Being run at night under streetlights should provide a neat viewer spectacle, though I hope no one gets hurt.

5 point pick - Team HTC-Columbia They're probably bringing the nine fastest guys to the race. Bak, Cav, Eisel, Goss, Siutsou, and van Garderen finish together with the best time. Or maybe all nine finish together, like at last year's Giro.

4 point pick - Liquigas-Doimo I'm pretty sure they're the only team with multiple TTT wins this season, though this course doesn't really compare to the Giro TTT course. The lack of Wiggins on Sky's squad and the presence of Bennati, Kreuziger, Nibali, Sabatini, and Santaromita, all of whom can sprint (it's a short course) or TT well makes them solid favorites. They won the TTT that kicked off the 2008 Vuelta, so it's not as if success in Spain is foreign to the Italians.

3 point pick - Garmin-Transitions The usual suspects are there - Danielson, Vandevelde (though he's probably not 100%), Zabriskie, Millar, Dean and Farrar can probably contribute some watts in a short course like this one. I'd feel better about their chances with a fully healthy Vandevelde.

2 points pick - Team Sky They're a trendy pick for any TTT, but no Wiggins, no Boasson Hagen, no Henderson or Sutton for a power sprinter type...the best engine they're bringing probably belongs to Juan Antonio Flecha, hardly an intimidating name in the TT's. But they know how to ride this discipline, there's no doubting that.

1 point pick - Team Saxo Bank They're bringing Cancellara AND Larsson, so maybe  they probably should be above Team Sky in my rundown. But it takes more than two guys to win a TTT, and with the brothers Schleck (certainly not known as TT'ers), Stuart O'Grady and a few sprinters rounding out the squad, there may not be enough power there.

Stage 2

This stage could go either way in terms of being a sprint stage or a breakaway, but with time gaps probably relatively small after the TTT, I have a feeling that the race leader's team will want the field together as much as the teams of the sprinters will. This stage, as well as the next two, takes place in Andalusia, so we're sure to see an Andalucia-Cajasur rider in the breakaway, probably nabbing the first mountains jersey. Two cat-3's on course on here, and while the Alto de Ronda will probably break the field up a tiny bit, the 50 some km of descending and flats that follow its summit will probably bring the field together.

5 point pick - Mark Cavendish The Manx Missile is hitting his best form now, and I think he'll drag his bones across the Ronda just fine. If he's with the leaders at the finish, really, who can stand in his way.

4 point pick - Thor Hushovd Even if some of the sprinters get left behind, Hushovd is the one I'm most sure will get over the Ronda with no troubles.

3 point pick - Tyler Farrar We don't really know what kind of form Farrar's on. He'd probably beat Hushovd in a two-up drag race, but it probably won't come to that.

2 point pick - Alessandro Petacchi

1 point pick - Grega Bole On the extreme off chance that all the sprinters get left behind, Bole's a good man to pack a finishing kick from a group of 40 or 50 that finishes together

Stage 3

Well, this is certainly not a sprinter's stage. Two visits to the category-1 Puerto de Leon will break the field up nicely, as will the ~25km of descending between the second ascent and the finish.

5 point pick - Xavier Tondo I'm actually not sure how well Tondo handles a descent, but the Leon looks like a good climb for his talents, and you have to be a brutally bad descender to give up any more than about a minute in the amount of distance present on this stage to descend.

4 point pick - David Arroyo It's a good profile for Arroyo's skills, but he comes into the Vuelta a marked man, and not a rider who will be given much, if any rope. However, if he can climb with the aces, who catch the breakaway, and then bomb the descent, the red jersey will probably be his. Which would be a likelier scenario in, say, stage 18 than stage 3, but still.

3 point pick - Denis Menchov While there may be time gaps on this stage among the aces, it's probably more likely that if there are, they'll come behind the stage winner than come about as they try for the stage win

2 point pick - Frank Schleck For much the same reasons

1 point pick - Gustavo Cesar Mosquera won't get away, but his lieutenant might

Stage 4

A nice, hilly stage that has breakaway written all over it. We'll certainly see Andalucia-Cajasur represented again, and if they have a decent TTT there's a small chance they could take the race lead with the right man away on this stage.

5 point pick - Jose Angel Gomez Marchante Easily the strongest rider on the Andalucia-Cajasur squad, he's the likeliest to benefit from making the break today. He's no overall threat, though, so no one should much mind if he slips away.

4 point pick - Rafael Valls The plucky young Spaniard showed well in a breakaway in the Tour de France, and could do the same here.

3 point pick - Ben Swift Another rider for a team with no overall aspirations, Swift could easily find himself the strongest sprinter in the day's escape group

2 point pick - Greg Van Avermaet The Belgian won the points title in the Vuelta two years ago by making break after break on stages like this. He's not a terrific sprinter, but he packs a kick decent enough to potentially beat out breakaway maters with other strengths

1 point pick - Amets Txurruka It's likely Euskaltel will save their bullets for later in the race, but I have to give a nod to my personal favorite breakaway firebug

Stage 5

This stage is classified as totally flat, though it actually undulates a bit. It's still likely the sprinters will have their fun, and the crosswinds possible on the exposed roads in Murcia could provide for some time gaps.

5 point pick - Mark Cavendish

4 point pick - Tyler Farrar

3 point pick - Wouter Weylandt An often forgotten fast man, but he's got stage wins at both the Vuelta and the Giro to his credit

2 point pick - Alessandro Petacchi

1 point pick - Thor Hushovd

Stage 6

There's one little climb in this course, the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo. A favorite training ride of Alejandro Valverde's, it's a good bet that the Caisse d'Epargne team will show up on this day.

5 point pick - Thor Hushovd Hushovd will get over the Cresta del Gallo just fine, and if he's present in a 40 or 50 strong group together at the finish, he should be the best sprinter there

4 point pick - Luis Leon Sanchez The Caisse d'Epargne team leader in Valverde's stead grew up near where the stage ends. He should know the Cresta del Gallo well and be able, should he chooses, to take an aggressive ride on it to try to fly the Caisse d'Epargne flag

3 point pick - Enrico Gasparotto Fits the bill well of a "sprinter who can climb ok"

2 point pick - Manuel Cardoso The Footon team's one ProTour-level win this season came from Cardoso on a stage similar to this one in profile, way back at the Tour Down Under

1 point pick - Mark Cavendish It's possible this one comes down to a bunch finish, but I don't think it's terribly likely

Stage 7

This one's just about as flat as a stage can get. One tiny little cat-3 on course, which won't bother anyone. The usual suspects will be out to play.

5 point pick - Mark Cavendish

4 point pick - Tyler Farrar

3 point pick - Alessandro Petacchi

2 point pick - Thor Hushovd

1 point pick - Allan Davis

I'm getting sleepy I'll finish this tomorrow


08/28/2010 11:49 PM
My whole enthusiasm for the sport has been dampened a bit. But I'll finish this.

Stage 8

This is the first major climbing stage of the race. The Xorret del Cati will sort out the classification big time. Maybe there won't be mammoth time gaps among the aces, but we will know who's here to win.

5 point pick: Denis Menchov The Russian in his swan song for Rabobank is the odds-on favorite for the Vuelta overall, and I think hes going to show himself here.

4 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali His stated goal is to reproduce his "home form" in Spain. If he can, a win here is definitely possible.

3 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera He'll be with the front group for the climb, but given that he's never actually won anything at the Vuelta, it seems a bit unwise to actually tab him for a stage win.

2 point pick: David Moncoutié Of course he's no overall contender, but he's out to win the KOM for a third year in a row. He tried his luck on the Xorret del Cati last year and didn't succeed, so maybe he comes back this year knowing the climb better.

1 point pick: Andrey Kashechkin This is really just an excuse to mention him I'm fascinated to see what we'll get from the newly-returned Kazakh. He's probably not got the racing fitness necessary to win this stage or be much of an overall force in the Vuelta, but he has had success in Spain in the past.

Stage 9

A gaggle of low and mid-categorized climbs precede a descent to the finish in Alcoy. Whoever makes the break on this stage will get buckets of mountains points, making

5 point pick: David Moncoutié a strong possibility.

4 point pick: Egoi Martinez is also a former Vuelta KOM winner, and has held the climber's jersey at the Tour de France as well. It's a veritable given Euskaltel will make the break on this stage, given that they have so many mountain goats on their squad. If Martinez makes it in, he could do some real damage in the classification

3 point pick: Rémy Di Gregorio

2 point pick: Carlos Barredo

1 point pick: Alexsandr Dyachenko All fairly solid climbers on teams without a real GC contender

Stage 10

A rather nasty cat-1 30 km from the finish makes this stage pretty unique as there's nothing to bother anyone before it. It's not a very tall climb, but it's devastatingly steep. There's not enough road for the aces to worry about this one, so the stage will go to a plucky breakaway artist with light feet.

5 point pick: Johann Tschopp This one's real tough to call, so the man who took the Cima Coppi at the Giro comes to mind as a solid pick.

4 point pick: Juan Antonio Flecha Apparently it's a training ride of his

3 point pick: Xavier Tondo His Paris-Nice stage win seems reminiscent

2 point pick: Jean-Christophe Péraud Péraud very quietly had a fantastic Tour of the Basque Country earlier this season. I know this isn't the same area of Spain, but he's got mountain legs in him, no question

1 point pick: Nicolas Roche Roche isn't quite yet someone the aces have to worry about, so he could slip away here.

Stage 11

The Vallnord climb is a toughie, but the time gaps won't be gigantic. I do expect the aces will take the day.

5 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali Since I give Menchov the nod earlier, switch it up for this'un

4 point pick: Denis Menchov

3 point pick: Joaquim Rodriguez

2 point pick: Frank Schleck I'm not a believer in big brother Frank at all. If Andy were coming to the Vuelta as Saxo Bank's squad leader, my picks might look quite a bit different

1 point pick: Luis Leon Sanchez

Stage 12

There's a smidgen of climbing early on, but the last 35 km are dead flat and straight. We know what this means.

5 point pick: Mark Cavendish

4 point pick: Tyler Farrar

3 point pick: Alessandro Petacchi

2 point pick: Thor Hushovd

1 point pick: Wouter Weylandt

Stage 13

This looks like a breakaway stage to me, though it could well be a bunch finish. If a strong time trialist should make the break, he could make it stick on his own.

5 point pick: Mikhail Ignatiev The trendy pick for solo breakaway finishes

4 point pick: Jean-Christophe Péraud Another rider who fits the bill, also one whose team won't help chase down the breakaway

3 point pick: Branislau Samoilau Quick Step might chase down the break, for Wouter Weylandt, but Samoilau's a fair pick if he makes the break

2 point pick: Amets Txurruka Another trendy pick as a breakaway firebug. His team certainly won't chase the break, but I'm not sure if the terrain is great for him to stay away

1 point pick: Mickaël Buffaz Complete shot in the dark

Stage 14

There are three categorized climbs on course before the cat-1 summit finish at Peña Cabarga, and a fair bit of descending as well. The Peña Cabarga climb is not very long or tall, but it's crushingly steep (a common feature of Spanish hills, it seems). The stage might be decided a few seconds ahead of the aces.

5 point pick: Luis Leon Sanchez

4 point pick: Igor Anton

3 point pick: Denis Menchov

2 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

1 point pick: Frank Schleck

Stage 15

This is a dead flat stage......oh right, with an HC climb over the final 20 km. The Covadonga climb is much taller than most of the previous hills, and just as steep.

5 point pick: Denis Menchov

4 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera

3 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

2 point pick: Dare I even freaking say it, but Carlos Sastre If he doesn't lose contact in the flats, this kind of long, grinding climb is perfect for him

1 point pick: Frank Schleck

Stage 16

Some people are calling this la etapa reina for this year's Vuelta, and with reason. Three difficult cat-1s line the course, including the summit finish at the Alto de Cotobello.

5 point pick: Tom Danielson This man has always targeted the Vuelta, but he's never really lived up to the hype he had as a younger rider. I say he realizes a little of his potential in this race and flies away on the Cotobello

4 point pick: Frank Schleck Rather than believing in brother Frank, I think he's got a good chance on this day because he'll be 3-4 minutes back of Menchov, Nibali, and the other aces, and they can afford to give him 30 seconds without worrying about it

3 point pick: Denis Menchov

2 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali Of course, they have to be considered

1 point pick: Luis Leon Sanchez

Stage 17

The one ITT in the Vuelta this year. It'll depend heavily on who's stuck around this far. It's straight and pancake flat; the winner will need some serious horsepower in his engine. If he's still in the Vuelta, Cancellara's a cinch pick, but I doubt he'll have hung around this long. Therefore

5 point pick: David Millar Millar won last year's late-race ITT, though it was a much shorter one. He's likely to still be in the Vuelta, given that Britain won't have many qualified riders for worlds.

4 point pick: David Zabriskie Again, I'm not sure if he'll still be in the race. But if he is, he's a solid pick.

3 point pick: Gustav Larsson

2 point pick: Jean-Christophe Péraud The whole reason Lotto signed Péraud was to improve their time trialing presence in big tours

1 point pick: Marzio Bruseghin

Stage 18

Talk about a stage that will heavily depend on who's left. No Cav, no Farrar, probably no Petacchi or Hushovd, we've got to look down a bit on the list of sprinters for today's winner.

5 point pick: Wouter Weylandt This man's quick. And I don't think he'll pull out, for worlds or anything

4 point pick: Daniele Bennati It's amazing to think that Bennati used to have very much the reputation that Mark Cavendish does now, as the fastest thing on two wheels. I don't think he'll figure into any of the early sprints, but if he's around, this is another good one.

3 point pick: Theo Bos Should remain in the race while Hushovd pulls out

2 point pick: Yauheni Hutarovich

1 point pick: Danilo Hondo Hondo, and probably Julian Dean, will stick around even after their star teammates have exited

Stage 19

A definite breakaway-friendly stage, with an early cat-2 and rough undulation most of the way

5 point pick: Philippe Gilbert He's got the right pedigree for this kind of stage, and I could see him flying away for a stage win much like he did late in last year's Giro

4 point pick: Philip Deignan I sincerely doubt Deignan makes the top ten of the overall standings again, but it was on a stage like this, near this point in the race, that he won and entered the top ten last year

3 point pick: Dario Cataldo

2 point pick: Lars Bak

1 point pick: Niki Terpstra Darts thrown at the startlist

Stage 20

Three words: Bola. Del. Mundo. It's quite possible that the race will be decided by this point, but even if it is this stage provides a chance for a nice exclamation point. And if it's at all open, watch out, because anything at all can happen on this climb. We just don't know.

5 point pick: Denis Menchov The "safe" pick, no doubt

4 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

3 point pick: Frank Schleck

2 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera

1 point pick: Igor Anton

Stage 21

The sprinters get their fun in Madrid.

5 point pick: Theo Bos Hey, it's who I'd like to see win

4 point pick: Daniele Bennati

3 point pick: Robert Förster

2 point pick: Julian Dean

1 point pick: Wouter Weylandt

Mountains classification

5 point pick: David Moncoutié says he's going to try for a third straight win. You cannot objectively call anyone else the favorite.

4 point pick: Egoi Martinez

3 point pick: Rémy Di Gregorio

2 point pick: Andrey Kashechkin I don't think he has the racing fitness to be an overall contender, but someone who's just short of being an overall player makes for a great pick in this classification

1 point pick: Denis Menchov

Points classification

5 point pick: Wouter Weylandt

4 point pick: Thor Hushovd

3 point pick: Denis Menchov

2 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

1 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera

Combination classification

This is, hands down, the stupidest award in any major Tour. It's going to go to the GC winner. It always does.

5 point pick: Denis Menchov

4 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

3 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera

2 point pick: Luis Leon Sanchez

1 point pick: Joaquim Rodriguez

General classification

5 point pick: Denis Menchov

4 point pick: Vincenzo Nibali

3 point pick: Ezequiel Mosquera // that's my podium

2 point pick: Frank Schleck

1 point pick: Joaquim Rodriguez


08/29/2010 02:02 PM
Nice with stage 1, but what about stage 2...I'm still scratching my head on that - great job by Hutarovich!


09/02/2010 11:24 PM
Wow, except for slightly underestimating the size of the finishing group (70 rather than 40-50), I freaking nailed it for stage 6. 14 points through 6 stages, I'm ahead of the pace to get the one-third I hoped for


09/03/2010 10:49 AM
Petacchi for stage seven, then Cavendish and Farrar....


09/04/2010 02:16 AM
17 points. Cavendish has been a surprising dud so far. He's been flat out beaten in each sprint. Goss' crash in stage 5 was unfortunate, and it was more a tactical error on Cav's part than a lack of speed that denied him that day, but Hutarovich and today Petacchi both just smoked him. Unless he sticks it out to Madrid, I only see one more opportunity for him.


09/04/2010 10:11 PM
19 points. Where the frick is Menchov? The commentators were laughing about him being "the invisible man in the peloton," in that they couldn't see him when the camera showed the peloton, but to be invisible on the first major climbing day of a Grand Tour is nothing to laugh about. He was already down a minute to Nibali coming in to today's stage and...*checks*...lost 2'15" to him today. He's in 20th place, 3'16" behind Anton and Rodriguez. Insurmountable? Of course not, but there's no way this was his plan, and he was the heavy favorite entering the race. The title of prohibitive favorite has got to fall to Nibali now.


09/05/2010 03:40 PM
move along, nothing to see here


09/05/2010 09:01 PM
Not bad Alex...rumor has it that Kashechkin is actually Simoni in disguise...he's going to get revenge on Tschopp on Tuesday!


09/05/2010 09:25 PM
The real question is how long before Kashechkin is back on Astana...


09/09/2010 12:42 AM
Still at 19 points. Menchov's goose is cooked, and color me stunned.


09/11/2010 03:57 AM
24 points...but don't I look like a schmuck for predicting a mass sprinter exodus. Ah well.


09/11/2010 06:59 PM
Too bad about Anton... it's hard to tell, but it looked like he took himself out...


09/11/2010 09:48 PM
Yeah, the commentators thought at first that he and Egoi Martinez touched wheels, but Anton said later that he crashed "alone" (hit a pothole or something). It was obvious immediately that his Vuelta was done. Truly a sad sight to see the race leader's jersey in absolute tatters like that. Poor guy. He was really coming up aces, and while Nibali was always going to be a bigger favorite to win the whole thing, he was looking good for a podium and a veritable lock for a top 5.

Still at 24 points...but I've got a good chance to score tomorrow.


09/12/2010 04:48 PM
Or not.
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