Tag Archives: Vuelta a España 2015

A ridge too far for Dumoulin as Aru snatches victory with team assault on the loan Dutchman

Tom Dumoulin had fought them off for 16 hard stages until he reached the only individual-time-trial of this years Vuelta, at which time he finally turned the tables in his specialised event and seized the Red jersey with four stages to spare. He even doubled his lead from a mere 3 seconds to 6 seconds a few days later and it looked like maybe he had just done enough with just one day and four mountains left to survive. But then the wheels came off. The climb up the Puerto de la Morcuera proved to be a ridge too far for the Dutchman as his legs finally gave in to the relentless pressure and Aru was free to ride off and win the Vuelta.

Dumoulin had cracked, born a generation too late from a time when two long time-trial might have been the norm and would have seen him win here with ease. Indeed, he picked one of the hardest Vuelta’s with regards to climbing in recent memory to stake his claim to win it and the way he went about it was admirable. If only they’d finished the hilly stuff a day before, or indeed on the climb before. If only indeed. By the time all was said and done on the stage won by Ruben Plaza after a brilliant 112km solo ride, Dumoulin had lost 3min 52sec to Aru and slumped right down into 6th overall.

I had felt that having survived the short climb up to the finish of stage 19, and even gained time on Aru, that he had done enough. That with the final of the four climbs on stage 20 coming 20km from the finish, Dumoulin would be able to time-trial back on again even if he were dropped. That we had seen throughout this Vuelta a man able to measure his efforts perfectly, to ignore the gaps the climbers got on him and instead pace himself to the finish without going into the red zone and without losing major time as a result. As it turns out, there is no way to survive it when you’re one man against a team and your legs finally call it quits.

Dumoulin came into this Vuelta on a Giant-Alpecin team that never held general classification success as its aim and as a result never sent riders that could aid in going for the Vuelta victory. The upshot of that was Dumoulin, who suddenly found himself in the form of his life and very much in contention throughout, being left isolated by teams loaded with climbers. He had fought them off superbly but on this day, Aru’s Astana team played it perfectly.

They put men in the early break, men that then sat up to wait for Aru and help pace him once he had cracked Dumoulin. This gave Aru strength in numbers to survive in the valley between the third climb in which he had cracked Dumoulin and the final climb from which he could then put further time into him. Dumoulin got close to getting across to Aru’s group in that valley leading to the Puerto de Cotos, but those extra Astana legs ensured he never got close enough and ensured Aru hit the final climb clear of Dumoulin and could ride on to take the Red jersey on what was his final chance.

Cycling is an individual sport inside a team setting, and vise-versa. Only one man stands on the top of the podium wearing the race leaders jersey come the finish and you must have the legs, the lungs, the talent and the skill to begin with otherwise no team will make a difference, but without that team to set you up, to look after you, to play the tactical game, its virtually impossible to succeed over a three week race. It’s why Aru will, as tradition dictates, split his prize money amongst his team-mates. And never has the importance of those men around you been better highlighted than in this stage.

Dumoulin may have been beaten here, but he won’t go away anytime soon. He has proven his new found ability to compete over three weeks and you can be sure his team, if they wish to retain him long term, will need to provide him with more suitable support for mountain type stages in the future. He too will know his new capabilities and will surely tailor his training even more specifically towards achieving Grand Tour success. Had he, and his team, known three weeks ago that he could go this far in Spain he’d likely be going home the champion.

I hear that next years Giro might well have two individual-time-trials and if that is the case, Mr. Dumoulin will surely have a new target. Of course, his rivals will now be aware of him from the start. They will no longer ride the first week assuming he will crack in the second and not become a risk to their hopes of success. A new contender has certainly emerged.

But lets save the last word for Aru, the man who won. In what looked like being the closest Grand Tour of all time just two days from Madrid, the Italian ended up winning by a convincing 57sec from Joaqium Rodriguez and 1min 9sec from Rafal Majka. Nairo Quintana eventually came home 4th but a man clealy not fully recovered from his efforts at the Tour.

Aru though had targeted this Vuelta and was justly rewarded for his efforts. I don’t know a lot about him personally but Aru comes across as a humble and quiet man. What I do know of him on the bike it’s clear he has talent and at the age of 25 surely has more similar success ahead of him. Hailing from the Italian island of Sardinia, his career path is reminiscent to that of a man from the other big Italian island of Sicily: Vincenzo Nibli, his Astana team-mate. His first Grand Tour win also came at age of 25 and it also came at the Vuelta following a podium at that years Giro.

Next year both Aru and Nibali will battle for Astana team-leadership with the younger Italian having now proved himself a winner and surely setting his sights upon Giro success of a first crack at Le Tour, while Dumoulin will go off in search of team-mates that can support him in the high mountains. Until then, the Italian will celebrate a fine win while the Dutchman will lick his wounds and think about coming back stronger.

Final general classification:

1. Fabio Aru

2. Joaqium Rodriguez

3. Rafal Majka

4. Nairo Quintana

5. Esteban Chaves

6. Tom Dumoulin

7. Alejandro Valverde

8. Mikel Nieve

9. Daniel Moreno

10. Louis Meintjes

(AST)

(KAT)

(TSC)

(MOV)

(OGE)

(TGA)

(MOV)

(SKY)

(KAT)

(MTN)

in 85h 36′ 13″

@ 57″

@ 1′ 9″

@ 1′ 42″

@ 3′ 10″

@ 3′ 46″

@ 6′ 47″

@ 7′ 6″

@ 7′ 12″

@ 10′ 26″

Roche no longer in the shadow of his father…Dumoulin fends off Aru’s attacks

Nicolas Roche, often mentioned as the son of Stephen Roche though with comparisons rarely drawn anymore, done something his father never did yesterday…win a stage of the Vuelta, for the second time. Stephen only rode the Vuelta once in 1992 and never won a stage whereas Nicolas is taking part for the sixth time and yesterday escaped from the large break with Haimar Zubeldia and then out sprinted the veteran Trek Factory rider to win Sky’s first stage of this years race.

Roche has carved out a fine career of his own after those early days when comparisons would be drawn with his dad and expectations to repeat his fathers achievements were rife. While Nicolas is never likely to win Grand Tours like his dad, he has become a very good team player and the road captain for Team Sky. And it’s easy to forget he’s now a 31 year old veteran himself — four years older now than his dad was when he completed that Giro, Tour, Worlds triple crown — and riding better than ever. Indeed he has now started the same number of Grand Tours as his dad ever did and, assuming he makes Madrid this Sunday, will have completed all 15 of them to Stephens 12.

There was no change in the GC battle as the final climb came too far out from the finish to make a massive impact. That didn’t stop Aru trying however as he launched a number of searing attacks but found Tom Dumoulin in the red jersey stuck to his rear wheel.

Whether these attacks were meant to test the legs of Dumoulin in the hops of cracking him or just to soften him up for the days ahead, I’m not sure, but even had Aru opened a gap it’s unlikely he would have sustained it to the line given 12km remained when the crossed the summit. Tomorrow’s 2nd cat. climb tops out even further from the finish so dropping Dumoulin there would only see the Dutchman time-trial back onto Aru assuming he retained his composure upon being dropped as he has each time the little climbers have attacked thus far at this Vuelta.

There is however a punchy little cobbled climb up into the walled city of Ávila at the finish and that could allow for a handful of seconds to be gained. Dumoulin will have to be at his absolute strongest and keep his wits about him also not to allow any gaps to appear. In an ideal world for him he’ll remain glued to the rear of Aru and a large break of riders up the road will contest the stage and the time bonuses.

That said, I still expect Aru to try something on the Alto de la Paramera given the desperation we seen creep in yesterday, and why not? He’s got nothing to lose now. It’s it funny though that it has taken this desperation for Aru to gain three seconds or others to gain time for a podium placing to finally see them launch early and daring attacks. In the stages before the time-trial the majority of summit finishes were being fought out in the final couple of kilometres as each man tried to gain seconds without taking the risk of collapse by going for it too far out. They were aware they had to take time on Dumoulin, but they were too worried about being counter attacked by other climbers and the result only favoured Dumoulin and has left the rest now desperate to attack.

It’s made this Vuelta a fascinating tactical battle and one in which Dumoulin has played perfectly. Can his legs continue to allow him to do so? We’ll have to see today and tomorrow but he can no longer afford to limit his loses, he must react to every move Aru makes and keep it tight.

Dumoulin smashes TT while Aru finishes strong to remain intact

Slowly the weeding out process of this years Vuelta has seen us left with three likely winners coming into today. Joaqium Rodriguez, Fabio Aru and Tom Dumoulin, all three of whom have had their turn in Red over the past two and a half weeks. Today’s time-trial would shake things up further and reduce the likely competition to win overall to just two and in doing so it turned into a micro-version of the race itself with each man taking a turn as provisional race leader on the road until at which times the overall standings were turned on their head with Tom Dumoulin back in Red with just 3sec to spare on the impressive Aru.

No two ways about it, Dumoulin smashed the 38.7km time-trial in impressive fashion, averaging a speed of over 50 km/h to win the stage by more than a minute to the next man and overturn a 1min 52sec deficit to take back the race leaders jersey. Credit too must go to Aru who himself done exactly what Dumoulin has done best in the mountains by limiting his losses enough to remain in touch with the Dutchman overall, while Rodriguez had a disaster and coughed up over 3mins to the stage winner leave him 1min 15sec out of the race lead.

The overall standings were as follows coming into the stage, meaning that Dumoulin had it all to do in his specialty event while Rodriguez and Aru were looking for the time-trial of their lives to remain in contact.

Pre-stage GC:
1. Rodriguez
2. Aru
3. Majka
4. Dumoulin
5. Nieve
6. Chaves
@ 1″
@ 1′ 35″
@ 1′ 51″
@ 2′ 32″
@ 2′ 38″

By the 13.5km mark, or one-third of the course in, Dumoulin was already stamping his authority on the stage. Riding like a man possessed, or with a Red jersey in front of his nostrils, he posted a time of 17min 44sec (45.7km/h) which was 44sec better than that of Aru and 1min 11sec up on Rodriguez who was clearly struggling and already out of the race lead. It shifted the provisional overall to the following:

Provisional GC:
1. Aru
2. Rodriguez
3. Dumoulin
4. Majka
5. Chaves
6. Moreno
@ 26″
@ 1′ 6″
@ 1′ 50″
@ 2′ 48″
@ 3′ 3″

By the time they reached the 27.5km check point, Dumoulin (in a time of 31min 41sec, 52.1km/h) had his foot on the throat of both Aru and Rodriguez. Aru had coughed up 1min 44sec and only retained the provisional lead over Dumoulin by 6sec while Rodriguez had lost a massive 2min 38sec.

Provisional GC:
1. Aru
2. Dumoulin
3. Rodriguez
4. Majka
5. Quintana
6. Chaves
@ 6″
@ 53″
@ 1′ 55″
@ 2′ 54″
@ 3′ 1″

With 11.2km still remaining, if the time losses kept going at the rate they were with Aru losing 3.75sec/km and Rodriguez losing 5.75sec/km to Dumoulin, Aru would find himself losing 2min 26sec to Dumoulin on the day with Rodriguez worse still at 3min 43sec.

As it turned out, Dumoulin had put in his best effort and was starting to struggle whereas Aru had kept something in the tank. A short sharp little hill in the final sector may well have played its part but rather than lose a potential 42sec over the final 11.2km, Aru only lost 9sec and it meant he finished 1min 53sec behind Dumoulin leaving him just 3sec back overall. Rodriguez also improved in the final 11.2km as he kept what might have been a 1min 4sec loss over that stretch down to just 28sec. It meant he finished 3min 6sec behind Dumoulin, a disaster to his GC hopes you could say, but it could have been much worse.

The result however has seen the top ten turned on its head. Dumoulin is up from 4th place into the race lead, Rodriguez is down from 1st to 3rd, Majka down to 4th, Quintana (6th on the stage) and Valverde (3rd on the stage) both up three spots to 5th and 6th respectively, with Chaves and Moreno each losing a spot and Mikel Nieve losing four places and down to 9th.

With just a 3sec gap, Aru will fancy his chances to still win this race, especially with three hilly stages still to come, but with no summit finishes Dumoulin will also believe he can hang in and maintain his slender lead. For the likes of Rodriguez, Mijka, Quintana and Valverde, something audacious will be required; the kind of move that comes early on a hilly stage and splits the race to pieces. We can only hope for such drama, but given the race lead is only split by three seconds, I’d say we’ve been spoiled quite a lot already.

Classement:
1. Dumoulin (TGA)
2. Aru (AST)
3. Rodriguez (KAT)
4. Majka (TCS)
5. Quintana (MOV)
6. Valverde (MOV)
in 68h 40′ 36″
@ 3″
@ 1′ 15″
@ 2′ 22″
@ 2′ 53″
@ 3′ 15″

New and old stage winners while the GC remains tightly poised ahead of time-trial

Five stages have passed since my last musings into the Vuelta at which time Chris Froome had just abandoned and Fabio Aru had just moved into the Red jersey. In those subsequent five stages we’ve seen three extremely hard days in the mountains and two rolling stages in which the metal of all those left contending was tested to the max, as the climbers looked to shift the specter of Tom Dumoulin from the GC ahead of Wednesdays’ time-trial, while also trying to battle one another for stage success and time gains overall.

Stages 12 and 13 gave us inaugural Grand Tour stage winners as Danny Van Poppel proved himself a chip off the old block when he won from a bunch sprint followed a day later by Nelson Oliveira who won solo as the contenders finished together.

On stage 14 the heavy lifting began again when Alessandro De Marchi won from the early break in the mist at Fuente del Chivo as Aru got a little too excited too early and cost himself time late on to Quintana while only taking 19sec from an impressive Dumoulin.

A day later on stage 15 it was Joaqium Rodriguez who took the race to Aru and narrowed his deficit to the Italian overall to a mere 1sec as Dumoulin once again limited his losses to just 36sec.

Then yesterday, on stage 16, Frank Schleck summoned his old self and emerged alone from the breakaway group to win his first race in over four years. Almost 9mins later the contenders arrived to the harsh summit and once again it was Rodriguez leading the charge. The 35-year old Spaniard, still seeking his first Grand Tour win, took the required 2sec from Aru to move into the race lead as everyone else conceded time. Quintana, still recovering from an illness but still not looking the man he was at the Tour, lost 12sec to Rodriguez while Dumoulin surrendered 27sec.

Dumoulin’s riding over these high mountain stages has been mightily impressive. He has rode extremely intelligently by not going too far into the red when the Red jersey group would accelerate on the steepest slopes, but rather accepted his limited fate on such gradients and rode within himself to lose seconds rather than minutes. He went into the first rest day with a 57sec lead in the overall to Rodriguez with Aru in fifth at 1min 13sec. Six hard stages later, better suited to his rivals, he arrives at the second rest day — and more crucially, tomorrow’s individual time-trial — with a 1min 51sec deficit to Rodriguez.

Given Dumoulin’s time-trialing ability he could very well overturn that gap and find himself in Red with just four stages left. The question will be how much he can take back on Rodriguez and Aru, and indeed extend as a lead, given that three of the final four stages are reasonably hilly, though none with a summit finish. Indeed, Aru and Rodriguez will still be watching the time of one another in the hopes that Dumoulin’s body proves more beat up than it otherwise would be before a time-trial and he fails to deliver the goods. Aru is likely the better man against the clock between the two, but with Rodriguez now in Red and with what is surely his last chance to win that illusive Grand Tour, will that be the extra incentives he needs to see off Aru and even what Dumoulin has to offer?

It will be fascinating to follow and I have to think it won’t decide the Vuelta but merely tee up those final three hilly stages.

Overall standings after 16 stages:

1. Rodriguez (KAT) in 67h 52′ 44″

2. Aru (AST) @ 1″

3. Majka (TSC) @ 1′ 35″

4. Dumoulin (TGA) @ 1′ 51″

5. Nieve (SKY) @ 2′ 32″

6. Chaves (OGE) @ 2′ 38″

Others: 7. Moreno (KAT) @ 2′ 49″; 8. Quintana (MOV) @ 3′ 11″; 9. Valverde (MOV) @ 3′ 58″; 10. Meintjes (MTN) @ 5′ 22″

Froome’s Vuelta goes up in smoke as Aru takes control of Red

Chris Froome’s hopes of winning the Tour-Vuelta double went up in smoke yesterday as the Sky rider crashed early and never recovered as his future team-mate Mikel Landa got in the early break and won the day, while Landa’s soon to be former team-mate, Fabio Aru destroyed all those who were contending for the Tour and hoping to contend here, moving himself into the Red jersey and in complete control of the race.

It was billed as the Queen Stage and it was one of the toughest in recent memory with five brutally hard categorised climbs, but in the end it almost proved too difficult for a field containing many spill overs from the Tour. Aru, who has been targeting the Vuelta all season looked the sharpest and while his lead of the Vuelta is still a matter of seconds to the likes of Joaqium Rodriguez and Tom Dumoulin, men like Nairo Quintana (@ 3min 7sec) and Alejandro Valverde (@ 1min 52sec) are all but out of the running.

Chris Froome is very much out of the running. He limped home in 32nd, 7min 19sec after Aru who came home second behind Landa at 1min 22sec, with limping being the optimal word. Froome crashed early and though he made his way back to the main field, when the pressure went on at the front later in the stage, Froome was immediately distanced. There is no doubt Froome is not at his very best, despite coming second this past Sunday, but even tired legs from the Tour would not have seen him struggle this badly. And so it proved to be this morning when Froome failed to take to the start, abandoning the Vuelta with a broken foot.

It’s a shame for the competition, and because Froome was in the mix to win this Vuelta before the stage, it leaves the debate open as to whether back-to-back Grand Tour wins is still possible? At first glance it almost appears not — and certainly the idea of a triple crown has been put to bed — because even before the crash, Froome has found the going tougher than he otherwise would if he hadn’t rode in France this past July. Aru on the other hand looks fresher and a level above the rest. Shy of having all the contenders ride all the Grand Tours, it would seem the likely favourites are those who came in fresh and even targeting that specific race.

So was the stage too hard? Well Landa and Aru would say no, of course, and neither of them rode the Tour. Besides, the route is set long before the entry list is known and the route organisors can hardly dictate the route to account for riders who may come to contend but do so after a hard Tour de France. That said, the difficulty of the stage all but nullified any serious racing until late on and when it did open up so too did the time gaps. In contrast you had a stage like the one on stage 9 in which there was only one serious climb, right at the end, and numerous contenders, arriving that little bit fresher, took the race to one another with a winner and the potential ramifications for the overall not known until the very end.

There is a long way to go, of course, and many mountains in which Aru could yet collapse, but only Joaqium Rodriguez looks a likely contender to take the race to him.

That said, it takes all kinds of stages to make a Grand Tour and it’s only in hindsight that people are questioning yesterday’s epic. The morning of, anyone would be lying if they said they weren’t excited for what lay in store. And with 10 stages left to go and plenty of climbing in store this stage will, at very least, have served to further soften up the legs of those who pushed hard for more potentially unpredictable action ahead.

It’s that theory that we can only clutch to in the hopes that a wide open fight to win this Vuelta remains. Aru will hope I’m wrong, Rodriguez will hope I’m right, and Quintana will somehow look to the gap he almost overcame against Froome in the Alps last month.

Result: Classement:
1. Landa (AST)

2. Aru (AST)

3. Boswell (SKY)

4. Moreno (KAT)

5. Rodriguez (KAT)

6. Majka (TSC)


8. Chaves (OGE)
9. Dumoulin (TGA)
12. Valverde (MOV)
14. Quintana (MOV)
32. Froome (SKY)

in 4h 34′ 54″

@ 1′ 22″

@ 1′ 40″

@ 1′ 57″

@ 1′ 59″

@ 2′ 10″

@ 2′ 59″
ST
@ 3′ 4″
@ 4′ 19″
@ 8′ 41″

1. Aru (AST)

2. Rodriguez (KAT)

3. Dumoulin (TGA)

4. Majka (TSC)

5. Chaves (OGE)

6. Valverde (MOV)


9. Quintana (MOV)
15. Froome (SKY)
22. Roche (SKY)

in 43h 12′ 19″

@ 27″

@ 30″

@ 1′ 28″

@ 1′ 29″

@ 1′ 52″

@ 3′ 7″
@ 7′ 30″
@ 13′ 3″

Grit and fight lead the way for Dumoulin and Froome

Yesterday’s stage 9 finish in the Vuelta on the Alto de Puig Llorença was one of the best climaxes to a stage I have seen in some time. On such a short climb you wouldn’t have expected the damage we got, but it was so brutal that those attacking early completely underestimated what was to come. Tom Dumoulin stood up to those attacks, measuring the timing of his efforts perfectly to take the win and overall lead, while Chris Froome went from looking in real trouble at one stage to blowing the race wide open with a set of searing attacks late on to hammer home a remainder to his rivals that he’s getting better by the day.

With around 3km to go I was thinking in terms of minutes as to the time Froome might lose, as Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Fabio Aru took turns attacking the Tour de France winner. With Froome in trouble and sliding out the back it was clear they felt the chance had come to put a dagger into his GC ambitions. The only problem was the hardest part of the climb was still to come and their early efforts only served to exhaust them as the attacks became ever more fleeting before the ever shrinking lead group slowed down to look at one another for the next move.

In doing so Froome was able to ride at his own tempo and limit any losses and in doing so rode himself back into the group. Suddenly he was the one at the front and putting down the hammer with a renewed vigor. From the brink of extinction of the GC battle, Froome was suddenly making his overly-excited opponents look like under-experienced rookies as his perfectly timed ride up the climb was in stark comparison to the others.

Only Dumoulin measured up. The Dutchman known more for his time-trailing is having the week of his life here and seems suited to the kind of short-sharp finishes we’ve seen thus far. On a climb that seen continual changes in elevation he could allow himself to attack on the flatter sections and use his time-trialling skills while merely surviving on the super-steep parts. One of those steep parts allowed the fast moving Froome to overwhelm him but with the finish in sight and knowledge that the red jersey of Estaban Chaves was in serious trouble, Dumoulin summoned one final burst of effort to close the gap to Froome and come past him for a fine victory on the line by a mere 2sec.

Joaquim Rodriguez rode it smartly, covering moves rather than making them until the final stretches when he attempted to win on a road that his father had spent the previous night painting his name on, only to run out of gas when Froome came through. He finished 5sec back on Dumoulin but with enough to move into second place overall.

Aru was next in at 16sec, Quintana and Valverde lost 20sec, and the Red jersey of Chaves lost 59sec by the time all was said and done. These time gaps are relatively small for the likes of Aru, Quintana and Valverde, but it was the manor in which they were achieved that stood out. The way in which Froome remained composed under what must have been serious stress as the others got excited early and the way in which he took it to them later. There is a long way to go and Froome is still 1sec behind Quintana overall and 1min 18sec off the Red jersey, but a statement has been made and he must be the favourite heading into the kind of terrain in which he thrives.

The individual time-trial will suit Dumoulin more than Froome, though Froome himself will relish it more than the rest, but it’s hard to see Dumoulin measuring up to Froome in the high mountains where the serious time gains will be made.

Result: Classement:
1. Dumoulin (TGA)

2. Froome (SKY)

3. Rodriguez (KAT)

4. Aru (AST)

5. Majka (TSC)

6. Quintana (MOV)


7. Valverde (MOV)
15. Chaves (OGE)

in 4h 9′ 55″

@ 2″

@ 5″

@ 16″

@ 18″

@ 20″

@ 20″
@ 59″

1. Dumoulin (TGA)

2. Rodriguez (KAT)

3. Chaves (OGE)

4. Roche (SKY)

5. Valverde (MOV)

6. Aru (AST)


7. Quintana (MOV)
8. Froome (SKY)
9. Majka (TSC)

in 35h 22′ 13″

@ 57″

@ 59″

@ 1′ 7″

@ 1′ 9″

@ 1′ 13″

@ 1′ 17″
@ 1′ 18″
@ 1′ 47″

* The stages either side of this one both ended up in bunch sprints with Jasper Stuyven winning on stage 8 and Kristian Sbaragli on stage 9. The only change either day made to the overall was on stage 8 when Dan Martin and Tejay Van Garderen both crashed out. Also mixed up in a crash involving a motor bike (those again!) was Peter Sagan. He was furious and had to be restrained and he finished the stage, but he didn’t take the start the next day.

Froome loses time while Quintana and Valverde still look strong

So after a flat stage won in a sprint by the impressive young Caleb Ewan and another hill-top finish won, once again, by Esteban Chaves who took back his Red jersey after its day on the shoulders of Tom Dumoulin, the Vuelta once again finished at the summit of a hill, albeit a bigger one that we’ve seen thus far, and once more put the contenders to test.

Bertjan Lindeman won the stage, a survivor of the days break, but the big news was the sight of Chris Froome struggling near the top and losing 27sec on the majority of his rivals who finished on the same time as one another 36sec behind Lindeman. Tejay Van Garderen also lost out, conceding 49sec to the likes of Majka, Valverde, Quintana, Roche, Dan Martin and Joaquim Rodriguez.

Chris Froome losing contact on this climb was somewhat surprising, though perhaps not completely unexpected. Surprising in the sense that this was far from the worst climb they’re due to face; one in which the likes of Chaves and Dumoulin stuck with the big-boys with the former retaining his overall lead. Not unexpected because the effort Froome put in to win the Tour followed by the host of post-Tour crits he has been attending which ate into his time for ideal pre-Vuelta preparation was sure to ware on him and take its toll.

The key for Froome here is limiting any losses in this first week and even parts of the second week and hope that his legs come back to him. He need also hope that the likes of Quintana and Valverde, who finished on the podium with him in Paris and suffered right with him through the Pyrenees and Alps, would start to find the going tough too, but so far, perhaps surprisingly (and perhaps young legs in the case of Quintana) both of them look strong here as though the Tour was months ago.

One rider not expected to suffer in this first week was Fabio Aru. The young Italian skipped the Tour to target the Vuelta and should be fresher than many of those around him; should be looking to take as much time as he can, while he can. And that proved to be so today when he went on the attack and stole 7sec on the contenders.

Tomorrow is an interesting stage, though not one the favourites likely need to worry about as the two cat. 3 climbs top out some 17km from the finish. It’s virtually all down hill for the first 140km, and while the sprinters may have their day spoilt by the two climbs, someone like Peter Sagan must really fancy his chances.

Result: Classement:
1. Lindeman (TLJ)

2. Richeze (LAM)

3. Aru (AST)

4. Cousin (EUC)

5. Majka (TSC)

6. Chaves (OGE)


7. Valverde (MOV)
8. Quintana (MOV)
17. Froome (SKY)

in 5h 10′ 24″

@ 9″

@ 29″

@ 34″

@ 36″

ST

@ 36″
ST
@ 1′ 3″

1. Chaves (OGE)

2. Dumoulin (TGA)

3. D. Martin (TCG)

4. Roche (SKY)

5. Valverde (MOV)

6. Rodriguez (KAT)


7. Quintana (MOV)
8. Aru (AST)
12. Froome (SKY)

in 27h 6′ 13″

@ 10″

@ 33″

@ 36″

@ 49″

@ 56″

@ 57″
ST
@ 1′ 22″