Vuelta 2010 2nd Rest Day Analysis and Predictions
After two weeks of racing, the 2010 Vuelta a Espana is down to three riders.
After two weeks of racing, the 2010 Vuelta a Espana is down to three riders. These three riders are within 0:53 of each other, with Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) leading, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) in second at 0:33, and Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo Galicia) in third at 0:53.
The riders have fought out three of the four stages that end with mountaintop finishes. Today, they will participate in a flat, 46-km individual time trial in Penafiel. Much hard fighting remains, but only two opportunities to seize the red jersey remain.
Today's 46-km time trial will be an opportunity to retake the overall lead for Nibali, who is the best time trialist of the three. He can put distance between himself and Mosquera, and, if he rides well enough, the Italian can overtake Rodriguez for the red jersey. Rodriguez will attempt to hold off Nibali, while Mosquera, like Rodriguez, will try to limit his losses. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) should win.
Stage 18 will be a flat, 148-km run from Valladolid to Salamanca. No one but a sprinter will win this stage. The stage will be windy, and the field might split into echelons. GC hopefuls and those hoping to pick stage wins will need to be vigilant. Expect Mark Cavendish (HTC) or Tyler Farrar (Garmin) to win.
Stage 19 will begin with a Category 2 climb and continue with a rolling descent to the finish. The 231-km run from Piedrahita to Toledo will probably see an early escape, but the peloton should overtake it toward the finish. Again, Cavendish or Farrar should win this stage, the longest one of the race.
Stage 20 will be the final showdown among those who are still in a position to win. The 172-km ride from San Martin de Valdeiglesias to Bola del Mundo will feature four categorized climbs, including two Category 1 ascents and the Hors Categorie climb to the finish. Look for Rodriguez, Nibali, and Mosquera to stay together until the final climb. On that climb, the two Spaniards will ride away from the Italian, with Rodriguez reclaiming the red jersey.
Stage 21 will be a flat, 85-km run from San Sebastian de los Reyes to Madrid. Cavendish or Farrar should win this stage, which will be a procession for the winner. Who will the winner be?
Rodriguez seems to have the best climbing form. He has put Nibali in difficulty on two of the mountain stages, and he should be able to do so on Stage 20. Rodriguez is not a great time trialist, but he is a good enough climber to win the Vuelta.
Nibali is a strong time trialist, and that will put him into the lead in today's time trial. It will not, however, save him from losing the red jersey when Rodriguez, Mosquera, and others begin launching concerted attacks in Stage 20. Nibali has faltered on the steepest climbs, and he will do so on Saturday. He will lose the overall lead to Rodriguez and second place to Mosquera.