Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stage 2 Preview 2013 Vuelta a España

Race leader Janez Brajkovic

The stage 1 team time trial saw Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana Team surprise the favorites and take the first win of the race. Janez Brajkovic crossed the line first for the Kazakh squad and will wear the race leader’s red jersey on stage 2. That is especially good news for the 29-year-old Slovenian who is shopping around for a new team contract.

Stage 2 on the map

Stage 2 continues in Galicia, and takes the riders 177.7k from Pontevedra to the first mountaintop finish in Baiona. The stage is mostly flat, with two distinguishing features: a 10k category-3 climb at about km 52, and—more importantly—the 11k cat-1 climb to the finish. 

Stage 2 Profile

The Alto do Monte da Groba is an undulating 11k climb, with an overall average gradient of 5.6% and a max around 10%. The Vuelta is establishing GC positions right from the get-go. Stage 2 results will illustrate who is in good form, and who is not quite ready to battle.

Astana may do what they can to keep the yellow jersey on Sunday, but the key for most GC contenders will either be limiting losses, or trying to regain some of the time that Nibali and his team took on stage 1. There are time bonuses for the first three at the line, so finishing positions are important.

Here is a short list of the times that some of the GC favorites lost to Nibali and his mates after the TTT:

Chris Horner lost :10 to Nibali, et al
Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran +:22
Alejandro Valverde +:29
Rooman Kreuziger, Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche +:32
Bauke Mollema +:49
Michele Scarponi +:56
Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez +:59
Sammy Sanchez +1:14
Thibaut Pinot +1:25
Ivan Basso +1:26
Dan Martin +1:41
Domenico Pozzovivo +1:41
Carlos Betancur +1:59
Igor Anton +2:43

So, a lot of guys have their work cut out for them.

MY PICK to win stage 2:  Rafal Majka (TST)

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