Pamplona

Shattered dreams for Movistar’s Colombian phenomenon Quintana; Astana’s young Sardinian, having left Pamplona behind, Fabio Aru confirmed on the rough concrete ramps to the monastery of San Miguel de Aralar; Sky’s Brit, Froome yo-yo’s – but there’s very little to chose between the three Spanish favourites – Contador (Tinkoff), Rodriguez (Katusha) and Valverde (Movistar).

We had a feeling that Quintana would find it very hard to continue in this Vuelta – whilst the man is hugely talented he’s not at the level he was in the Giro and to make up three minutes on Messrs. Contador, Rodriguez and Valverde was never going to be easy.

Pamplona
Quintana knows, this time, it’s serious. Photo©Unipublic

His morale was in his boots anyway but then fate intervened, down he went and the Media can stop asking daft questions about imaginary feuds in the Movistar camp.

Fabio Aru – his Giro performance spoke for itself; Contador says the young Italian reminds him of his own youthful self – Aru reminds me of a young Nibali.

Pamplona
Fabio Aru takes the stage. Photo©Unipublic

It’s been excellent for Italian Cycling and the sport in general – we all need those mad tifosi – to see Nibali rise to top of the pile and it’s good too that his successor might well be his team mate and young countryman, Aru.

Aru was a brilliant U23 rider, twice winning the prestigious Giro Della Valle d’Aosta and taking second in the Baby Giro.

But whilst Aru has rapidly and famously settled into Pro Tour racing, the man who beat him to win that Baby Giro, the USA’s Joe Dombrowski, languishes at Sky with precious little to show in the way of palmares for two years at the highest level.

‘Change teams, Joe,’ we say.

Pamplona
Arredondo and Trofimov do the team’s work. Photo©Unipublic

And on the subject of Squadra Murdoch, I can’t buy in to Carlton Kirby’s assertion that Froome rode a ‘brilliant’ stage.

It was his own Sky team mate, Cataldo who shelled him out the back of the lead group and then, instead of finding a steady rhythm and trying to settle himself, Froome was at the front, then the back and all over the place.

But he’s one of the best stage race riders in the world and it would be foolish to dismiss his chances.

Pamplona
Sky’s Kiryenka had a dig today while behind, team captain Froome was discovering he wasn’t on a great day. Photo©Unipublic

Home Boy, Samuel Sanchez continues to impress; a good time trial and now a solid mountain stage sees him in sixth spot on GC; but we’re glad we didn’t send off that Cadel Evans Fan Club application for Sammy’s Aussie BMC team mate – after a very respectable test it all went wrong and Cadel now languishes at 31 minutes; one place ahead of eternal Belgian disappointment, Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

Marc Sergeant must surely empty him out of Lotto, soon?

Pamplona
Not a good day for BMC, Steve Morabito was caught up in Quintana’s crash, tried to carry on but finally packed. Photo©Unipublic

But one thing is apparent; between Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez the measuring is being done with a feeler gauge not a metre stick.

Whilst QuickStep’s Uran plays a very canny waiting game – he could well be on the podium.

But all told, another day of drama and highly entertaining bike racing in la Vuelta.

Pamplona
Contador rode well today, one of his digs thwarted by the motos. Photo©Unipublic

Stage 12 is a ‘big crit’ – eight 21 K laps around Logrono on pan flat pavements.

We say F des J Frenchman, Nacer Bouhanni but German Giant, John Degenkolb is sure to argue the point…

Adios!

Fabio Aru
Aru, Gesink and Contador head the race up the final ramp. Photo©Unipublic