Vuelta al País Vasco: Stage 2 preview

By David Hunter

Stage 1 Recap

Contador the King! Alberto continued his fine winning streak with an outstanding display of climbing. He went with the attack of Valverde, and then destroyed him in the last kilometre of the climb. It was a typical Contador attack and he continued on the descent to claim the stage and put him in a strong position overall. Alejandro Valverde was 2nd and Michal Kwiatkowski was 3rd.

Stage 2 Ordizia – Dantxarinea 155.8km

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Another bumpy day for the riders. The main climb of the day is Alto de Lizaeta. It is 7.9km long and rises at an average gradient of 4.5%.

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As you can see, although listed as nearly 8km, the opening 3km is very flat. The next 4km rises at an average of 6.8%, before levelling out in the final kilometre. The riders crest the climb with 50km left and this means that those who lose ground on the climb could re-join the peloton. In classic Basque fashion the end of the stage has many uncategorised climbs that should not be underestimated. At the 140km mark the riders head up a small, narrow, steep road. This will be tough on the legs and a perfect launchpad for a late break, if the peloton is all together. With just 5km to go the riders then hit another short climb, this time it’s around 4%.

The riders descend to the finish and we have an uphill end to the stage.

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The final 500 metres rise at 4%, but will we get a sprint?

We don’t have many sprinters here: Michael Matthews, Ben Swift, Tosh Van Der Sande, Daniele Ratto and Paul Martens.

Tinkoff-Saxo will control the day’s break, but if not a threat on GC, then there is no interest to bring them back. That leaves it up to the other teams. Orica had a nightmare today and don’t have their big engines in the squad. Cannondale will probably have Davide Villella in the break, as he picked up 30 KOM points today. Lotto-Belisol will send someone in the break too, probably Tim Wellens, he finished dead last in stage 1, saving energy.

The responsibility will fall upon the shoulders of Team Sky for Ben Swift. The cat 1 climb will be hard for him and I think they’ll wait until stage 3 for a sprint. That means we should get a breakaway.

As mentioned I think Villella will be back in the break. Caja Rural sent Ferrari in the break on stage 1 and Txurruga also failed with an attempt. They have the talented Angel Madrazo, who is more than capable of doing a good break. Other candidates that lost big time in stage 1 are: Bobridge, Serry, Voigt, Didier, Westra, Berhane, LL Sanchez, Bakelants, Fedrigo, Rolland, Geschke and the mighty Tony Martin. The big German likes to warm up for his TTs and this could be a chance to do just that.

Whether a break stays away or not depends on the make-up of the break and the will of the other teams. The lack of sprinters does suggest that this could be the day for the break.

Prediction time ….. I have a feeling that tomorrow could be the day for Tim Wellens.

If it comes back for a sprint it is between Matthews and Swift and I say Matthews.

David Hunter

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