Pais Vasco 2015 – Stage 6 Preview

By David Hunter

Aia – Aia 18.3km


It’s TT day and time for the GC to be settled. It’s been a brilliant 5 days and we should get another outstanding day.

This is not your normal TT! We start with a 10km descent before climbing to Aia, twice. That means we climb the easy and hard way into Aia, something most riders will not be pleased about!

I spoke to a rider tonight and they didn’t realise that the TT contained those climbs again, they hadn’t read ahead in the road book! Needless to say there were a few swear words when I told him.

The opening 10km will see the TT specialists take around 30 seconds on the climbers. The closing 8km, is revenge for the climbers. Can they take back the 30 seconds they lost on the downhill?

The opening of the stage is perfect for Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski. Not only can they go faster than anyone else but the downhill is technical and they go downhill well! Can they build up a big enough advantage over the others?

The riders also have to consider their bike set-up. Do they ride a TT bike or a road bike? This could be a crucial decision, not many of the climbers will feel comfortable climbing on their TT bike. At just 18km, I doubt anyone will change bike, before the climbs. In terms of gearing, it’s a 54×11 for the descents and a 38×28 for the ascents.

I also need to consider the Movistar record, when riding TTs in Spain. Since the start of 2014, Movistar have won 4 out of 6 TTs, in Spain. The only rider to beat them is Tony Martin! The statistics tell us that Movistar or Tony Martin win this race!

That oversimplifies the race, the competitors and form! Or does it? How many of the GC riders have actually won a TT in their whole career?

Not many! We do have Tony Martin, Kwiatkowski, Zakarin, Van Garderen, Rui Costa and Quintana. Maybe that further enhances my previous point that Quintana or Martin wins. Maybe we shouldn’t forget Ion Izagirre, another potential Movistar success story. In fact, they also have Benat Intxausti, Jonathan Castroviejo and Gorka Izagirre. Having relevant times to measure your ride against is important and Quintana will have lots. Expect all of these riders to go “full gas” to provide relevant info for their team leader. Castroviejo used to be a TT talent but had a terrible 2014. He’s back to form now, finishing 4th in Tirreno and 6th in Algarve. Movistar have plenty of talent here. But Quintana lost 12 seconds today. He wasn’t able to close the gap to Henao on the Queen stage either. Nairo doesn’t seem to be in top form. Can he sustain 100% for 18km?

Simon Spilak has quietly went about his business, this week. He is a big danger. He was 2nd in the Paris-Nice TT and 4th in the 2014 Pais Vasco TT. He’s never won a TT but might not have to. He is 22 seconds behind the leaders, a deficit he could make up.

Quintana has 12 seconds to make up. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem against Rodriguez and Henao, but he hasn’t looked at his best.

Usually, Henao, Rodriguez and Yates wouldn’t stand a chance but they have great form. They need to limit their losses, not just on the descent but on the first climb. They come into their own in the final 1.5km.

Don’t forget Scarponi. When he’s going for GC, he can produce a good TT. No one has really talked about him but the Italian could be the big surprise.

The GC is between Henao, Rodriguez, Yates, Quintana, Scarponi, Spilak, Izagirre and Zakarin. Any one of them could take the title. It really is that open.

Riders have to be clever about saving energy. The end of the race is very difficult, you have to carefully manage your reserves.

Prediction Time

Either Tony Martin or Movistar wins. If Quintana or Izagirre wins the stage, they’ll take the GC. I’ve backed him all week and I will continue. Quintana takes it all…. or Izagirre;)

David Hunter

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