La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 7; Alhendin – Alcaudete, 165.4 km. De Marchi Stays Clear
As Dario Cioni once told us; ‘sometimes it’s nice for the big teams to get it wrong and the break to stay away.’
Big Italian Alessandro De Marchi was originally a team pursuit rider and paid his dues for three years in the low budget but big achieving Androni squad before stepping up to the World Tour with Cannondale, last year.
He won a Dauphine stage last season and won the mountains jersey in the same race earlier this season as well as being voted le Tour’s most aggressive rider.
For 2015 he’ll wear the less colourful red and black of BMC but will no doubt enjoy a healthier current account with the Swiss mega-team.
The Italian deserved his win and gave Cannondale something to rejoice about – it looks to us like Sagan is only here to train for the Worlds – but big Ryder Hesjedal ‘enjoyed’ more of the bad luck which has dogged Garmin in this race.
Adding insult to injury was the moto running over his Cervélo as it spun across the tar – his face when describing that part of the incident was a picture.
But you have to admire the big man for his attitude; major time lost yesterday but back on the offensive today – respect.
It may have looked like straight-forward; break goes, bunch chases but doesn’t catch kind of a day – but the feedback from the teams was that it was a hard, hard stage with a lot of riders shelled by the gnarly roads, crashes and the heat.
Red jersey Alejandro Valverde had this to say;
"These are demanding roads, plus the pace was really fast today.
"Though it was less hot than the two previous stages, the sun still burnt and made the day considerably hard.
"Fortunately, we didn't have any troubles, but we had to stay focused because, as everyone could see, there were many crashes and it was a dangerous one."
Belkin DS Erik Dekker was of a similar opinion;
"The course was tough and the riders made it extra hard. The start was fast and not long after, all hell broke loose. In the first hour, about hundred riders were dropped.
"If that happens in a pro peloton, the pace must be really, really high."
And the team’s man for the GC, Robert Gesink wasn’t impressed with the ‘race bible;’
"It went up and down all day, and I think that many guys suffered. The profile appeared to be flat, but I’ve learned that you can never trust the Spanish profiles.
"I have miscalculated before and seriously suffered.
"As a GC rider you need to stay focused every day."
On the subject of focus, what are we to make of Chris Froome’s propensity to sample the tarmac?
It’s our feeling that riding up and down mountains out in the Atlantic solo or in a small group may build those all important watts – but it certainly doesn’t help with race craft or bike handling.
Saturday's Stage Eight is the race’s longest at 207 kilometres from Baeza to Albacete, headquarters for the International Brigade during the Civil War in the late 30’s.
It’s flat; however, there is a large ‘but’ - the area is prone to nasty cross winds so it’ll be a nervous day as the lesser teams sit and worry when Alberto and/or Alejandro give the command to put the race in the gutter.
Vaya con Dios.
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