Juan José Cobo welcomes mountainous Vuelta a España route
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Juan José Cobo welcomes mountainous Vuelta a España route

by Ben Atkins at 12:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Defending champion relieved at hilly time trial; Movistar boss not happy with lack of balance

juan jose coboReigning Vuelta a España champion Juan José Cobo (Team Movistar) was present at the presentation of the 2012 route; since he owes his 2011 victory to his prowess in the steep Spanish mountains, the Cantabrian Bisonte de La Pesa is as pleased as anybody to see such a tough course this time.

"It's going to be a pretty balanced Vuelta route, decent to say the least,” said the reigning champion. “As happened last year with the climb to Sierra Nevada on day four, it will demand a lot from everyone to get into good position, but I don't think that there will be very big [time] differences other than because of a bad day from some rider.”

Unsurprisingly, it is the three back-to-back summit finishes – on stages 14 to 16 – that Cobo feels will be decisive in the race overall.

“We'll be really close to each other on the GC when we entering the trio of Asturian stages, the hardest, most decisive ones for the Vuelta outcome; not to look down on the finish in La Bola del Mundo [on the penultimate stage – ed]. The one who shows the strongest in those three stages shouldn't have any problems in La Bola.”

The weakest part of Cobo’s rave is the time trial; in 2011 he lost 3’03” to stage winner Tony Martin, and 2’04” to eventual runner-up Chris Froome, which, since he only won the race overall by a slim 13 second margin, could have been evn more costly in the end.

Last year’s course around Salamanca was a very flat one however, unlike this year’s route between Cambados and Pontevedra, which will also likely feature an Atlantic tailwind.

“The Pontevedra time trial is good for me,” said Cobo. “40km long and also difficult with a category three climb. For me – gaining in the climbs what I lose in the time trials – it would be good if I get there in good condition."

Of all the stages of the race though, Cobo points especially to stage seventeen, which passes through his home region of Cantabria.

"The one to Fuente Dé from Santander,” he said. “I don't put it down as one to win, but one to enjoy.

“It goes barely a hundred meters from my home,” he explained, “along my usual training roads. After having won the Vuelta a España, with all the fans supporting me, it will be a day to be enjoyed."

Thumbs up from the defending champion; thumbs down from his new boss

While Cobo may like the look of the new Vuelta route, Eusebio Unzué, his new boss at team Movistar is not so keen. The Navarran feels that the race is too heavily balanced in favour of the climbers, with little opportunity for riders to recover.

"It’s much too mountainous,” he said. “It has many short, steep finishes and the time trials will be incidental.

“It's going to be surely a really spectacular one,” he conceded, “because it requires the rider to be fit from the first to the last day, but it's clear that this Vuelta is for the best climber in August and September, especially for pure climbers able to put up with pressure this race will put over them from start to finish.

“There aren't any rests,” Unzué added, “even stages for the sprinters, where those riders could take it easier."


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