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First mountains done, care to revise you picks?(16 posts)

First mountains done, care to revise you picks?Spoiler
Sep 14, 2003 5:08 PM
I have no clue who will win. There's like 10 guys with a shot. I'll root for Heras or Nozal. If I had to bet, I'd bet on Aitor. I think Heras was lucky not to lose any more time to Aitor that he did. Beltran is doing a fine job working for him. These climbs didn't suit him. If Heras goes into the final time trial within 30 seconds of anyone, he has a chance. There's a chance Nozal might drop off after the rest day. He's done too much work for it to not catch up with him.
Rabobank's Rasmussen reminds me of another Pantani.
Someone named Gonzalez...mohair_chair
Sep 14, 2003 6:59 PM
Aitor Gonzalez is coming good just at the perfect time. He'll take it and redeem his whole season.

The dream will end for Nozal sooner or later, although he should make the podium. Maybe he'll get to lead his own team next year. It's good to see new blood in the sport.

Not really sure what is going on with everyone else. Why Heras doesn't attack is mystery to me, especially with GdG suffering off the back. Makes me wonder if he has the goods, but then everyone seems to be in the same boat. If it stays that way, the time trialists clearly have the advantage. It all points to Aitor right now.

One thing I know for sure: Beltran won't win the Vuelta!
Someone named Gonzalez...Spoiler
Sep 14, 2003 8:18 PM
I don't think the climbs have been steep enough for Heras to take advantage of his lighter weight. The climbs on Saturday and today suited Frigo and Aitor.
Beltran did a good job of staying in the wheel of Igor right to the end.
Sep 15, 2003 7:17 AM
I think Heras is waiting for Stage 15 and 16 to make his move. He's letting ONCE fight it out during the first week of the Vuelta and hoping they will be too drained to be competitive later in the race. Take a look at the stage profiles...

Stage 15

Stage 16
If he's "waiting" for...Dwayne Barry
Sep 15, 2003 11:14 AM
those climbs to attack he's played it all wrong. Look at the run up to those mountains. ONCE will keep it all together. That means he's going to have to put minutes and minutes into a number of rivals in a single climb or two. Unless Heras TTs like he never has before he should be about 6 minutes behind Nozal, 4 to 5 minutes behind Beltran and GdG, and 2-3 minutes behind Frigo and GdG by then. Added to that the fact that he really hasn't shown that he's climbing significantly better than most of those guys already, I think if he makes the podium he'll be lucky.
If he's "waiting" for...mohair_chair
Sep 15, 2003 11:44 AM
That was my thinking, too. On stage 15, I expect the entire peloton to arrive at the bottom of the climb together. There's no reason why they shouldn't, unless the famous Spanish crosswinds come into play. Bruyneel is pretty smart about taking advantage of conditions, so maybe his plan is for USPS to try to split the peloton and catch some of the big boys sleeping. USPS was brilliant at that last year. In any case, Heras won the climb last year, but only by 45 seconds.

Sierra Nevada on stage 16 is mostly the same story. The only real obstacles come early in the stage when the heat will be off, then it's flat or downhill to the bottom of the last mountain. Here Heras can kiss it all goodbye. If the terrain in the Pyrenees didn't suit him, he is really going to hate Sierra Nevada, because it's not very steep. It's long, really long, but not steep. He lost significant time here last year, to Aitor among others.

Sadly, I think Heras is out. The more I think about it, I wonder if he'll ever win the Vuelta again. He can't lose the kind of time he does in time trials and still win. Nobody, not Armstrong, not Merckx, not Hinault, can offset those kinds of losses by tearing up the mountains.

When Heras won in 2000, it was an Olympic year, so the race date was moved forward, and he wasn't coming off a Tour riding for Lance. Plus, the previous winner (Ullrich) was riding very strong but dropped out with lots of others to concentrate on the Olympics. Next year is an Olympic year, so maybe Heras can win in 2004.
Fuzzy math.Spoiler
Sep 15, 2003 12:55 PM
Heras lost 2 minutes to Beltran, Aitor and Igor in the first 43 km tt. That's 2.79 seconds per kilometer. At this rate, he would lose 2:27 to them in a 53k TT. You think he's going to lose twice that much time in a tt that's only 10 k further? You think Beltran will ride the last 10 kilometers two minutes faster than Heras? If he does that, he deserves to win.
Talking about on the GC not...Dwayne Barry
Sep 15, 2003 1:14 PM
in the TT, and I was just guestimating, but lets assume he will lose 2:30 to all the TT guys. So, actually looking at the GC that puts him more or less 6 minutes behind Nozal (actually more if Nozal repeats his first TT performance, 3:30 or so faster in first TT), over 4 minutes behind GdG and Beltran, about 3 minutes behind Frigo and 2 behind Gonazelez. I wasn't that far off was I?
Talking about on the GC not...Spoiler
Sep 15, 2003 1:39 PM
Oh, now those numbers make more sense. I think it's a much more interesting battle between Aitor and Frigo. Frigo is a minute ahead of Aitor. But Aitor has experience putting his own teammates out of contention, so that must be an interesting breakfast table there eh?
I would assume they both have a freehand...Dwayne Barry
Sep 15, 2003 1:55 PM
because Aitor clearly didn't hesitate to attack yesterday and I've not read any recriminations in the press. Additionally they both need to make up time and that will probably requiring taking back time in the mountains, so they have to attack to win!
All Beltran needs...BAi9302010
Sep 15, 2003 4:37 PM
is to just get a shadow of his climbing performances from the tour. If he can raise his climbing level just a little he'll be a step ahead of everyone else.
I doubt Nozal will be able to hang on much longer in the mountains though and we have yet to see if he has the endurance to go for 3 weeks but who knows.
As in most Grand Tours..Dwayne Barry
Sep 15, 2003 3:22 AM
it looks like once again it will be a TTist who can climb. Nozal, Frigo, GdG, and A. Gonzalez (and Beltran?) should all put another couple of minutes into the climbers (Heras, Perez, Valverde, etc.) in the next TT. The big climbing days are really past, so I can't see a climber winning (especially Heras, who has actually lost minor time on these mountain stages!). There are two mountain top finishes left, both of which are the only climbs on the stages and only the one to la Pandera on stage 15 looks like it may be tough enough for a pure climber to gain significant time. That final uphill TT appears to only have a steep section at the beginning and then to be fairly shallow the rest of the way, so again, probably will be hard for a climber to gain on the TTists. My pick was I. GdG at the beginning and I'll stick with it, although I think realistically it's a toss up between him Nozal, Frigo and A. Gonzalez (sorry, BAi I still don't believe in Beltran). For a climber to win, all those TTist will need to crack spectacularly on one of the mountain days, or one of the climbers will need to start TTing like they never have before.
The surprise of the race...Chicago_Steve
Sep 15, 2003 7:24 AM
I've been pretty surprised by Alejandro Valverde (Kelme). He won stage 9 has done well in the flat stages and can hold his own on the climbs. Today he finished with 6th place in the sprint behind Petacchi and Zabel and is currently 7th in the GC...

I kind of ignored most of the Kelme team at the Vuelta (with the exception of Sevilla). Valverde won't win the overall but he definitely made me take notice...
Beltran still has a good shotBAi9302010
Sep 15, 2003 7:36 AM
If he recovers well today and tomorrow he can climb with anyone in the race. He showed this two days ago when he put time into Heras and the rest after his strong tt. Obviously his efforts from those two days came back to haunt him on the following two climbing days but now he's got a couple of rest days to recover.
Let's say Heras does outclimb him in the coming stages. Beltran still has his 1:30 advantage and if he can produce another good tt like he did the other day he'll probably make that another 2:00. He's the only climber in the race who can tt, and he can even do this better than some of the time trialists.
If he does recover though, Beltran won't get dropped by Heras. Heras has yet to outclimb him significantly in any race this year.
Sep 15, 2003 7:37 AM
*in the second sentence i meant to say "...after his strong tt the previous day."
look at these guysBAi9302010
Sep 15, 2003 7:40 AM
21 Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
22 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
23 Alberto Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
24 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
25 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor
26 Francisco Mancebo (Spa)
27 Gorka Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
28 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
29 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre
30 Nacor Burgos (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
31 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Alessio
32 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
33 Jorge Ferrio (Spa) Paternina-Costa de Almeria
34 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor
35 Felix Cardenas (Col) Labarca-2-Café Baqué
36 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio
37 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor

they all finished within 16 spaces of each other. it must be intense in that group!!!