Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeRaceRace ReviewsLa Vuelta a España 2014 - Stage 6; Benalmadena - Cumbres Verdes...

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 6; Benalmadena – Cumbres Verdes (La Zubia), 157.7 km. Alessandro Valverde Takes Over

-

Alessandro Valverde

Alessandro Valverde was hugely impressive – not the shadow of himself we saw in the last week of the Tour. It’s like Robert Millar said; ‘there comes a day when you have to stop dreaming.

That day was yesterday for many as we were reminded of the savagery of professional bike racing at the highest levels.

There were no interlopers – just the best of the best, all of the pre-race favourites trying their best to waste each other on that horrible grind to the line.

It was a hard climb to deal with, not a long col for the pure climbers, or a ramp for the explosive guys – as Rodriguez discovered – but somewhere inbetween and very difficult to read, especially with the way it sliced straight across the hillside with nothing to break it up.

Alessandro Valverde
Valverde was impressive, driving the bus, covering the moves and winning the sprint. Photo©Unipublic

However he was back and winning in San Sebastian one week after he grovelled the Tour’s final time trial.

But the man is hugely experienced and his body and brain are like that of a race horse or a shark, designed to do one thing really well.

It was February 2002 when he made his pro debut for Kelme; since then there’s been two Liege-Bastogne-Liege wins, two Dauphine’s, a Vuelta and eight stage wins, two Fleche Wallone’s, two San Sebastian’s not to mention two World’s silvers and three Worlds bronzes – a record number of podium appearances.

But it’s still early days in this, the most unpredictable of the three Grand Tours.

Alessandro Valverde
Bonnet and Ligthart (again), off the front early. Photo©Unipublic

Up until the race hit the lower slopes of the Cumbres I was musing that it was your classic Vuelta scenario with all the ingredients there; baking heat, long straight roads, ghost town villages with no spectators, Caja Rural in the break and an escape with a seemingly unassailable lead which dissolved like a soluble Aspirin in a matter of a few kilometres as the ‘Bigs’ cracked the whip on their galley slaves.

But that finale really did sort out the serious players from the dreamers.

Alessandro Valverde
Garmin-Sharp worked hard in mid-stage to protect Dan Martin’s chances. Photo©Unipublic

The only name close to being a ‘surprise’ in the top ten now is GreenEDGE’s young Colombian, Chavez in fifth spot.

And good to see young French hope Warren Barguil in the top ten for Giant.

Cadel Evan’s and Samuel Sanchez’s chances took severe knocks, however – both great riders but there comes a day when…

Alessandro Valverde
Froome, Valverde and Quintana kept a watchful eye on each other. Photo©Unipublic

And another ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ for Garmin as our tip for the day, Dan Martin slipped out of the lead group as Valverde did his demonic train driver thing.

And on that subject, some of the media amaze me in how they interpret things; Valverde rode tempo for much of the climb with Quintana looking comfortable until it all got really serious at the death.

Rodriguez attacked, Valverde countered and Quintana couldn’t – it wasn’t as if Valverde was going to think; ‘where’s Nairo?

He’s thinking; ‘I best nail that little beggar Rodriguez before he gets too far!

How that can be interpreted as divisive is beyond me.

Anyway…

Stage Seven, Friday, is 155 km from Alhendin to Alcaudete with two second cat. climbs along the way and a dragging finalé.

The break might just do it – or it could be a late counter move which the sprinters’ teams are too spent to counter?

Gilbert, Albasini – or even Yates?

Adios.

Alessandro Valverde
Today’s landscape shot. Photo©Unipublic
Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 13; Belorado – Obregón, 182 km. Daniel Navarro for Spain and Cofidis

Stage 13 took things back up a level but on a parcours which didn’t make for ‘The Bigs’ to do anything but mark each other. Unlike the Tour de France where there have been years where the honour of France has been saved by a single stage win by the likes of Sandy Casar, the Vuelta has always inspired it’s children with Spaniards well to the fore. When it comes to stage wins the ‘Home Boys’ always reach deep into their top hats to find a rabbit with Daniel Navarro at last giving Cofidis something to smile about.

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 15; Oviedo – Lagos de Covadonga, 149 km. Przemyslaw Niemiec Impresses

Przemyslaw Niemiec wins today, but it’s just morbid curiosity which compels me to watch Chris Froome (Sky & Monaco/England/South Africa/Kenya) these days – he climbs like a stick insect with Saint Vitus Dance. It upsets me; but distressing or not, it gets him up them hills, albeit in his own mystifying style – off the back, off the front...

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 4; Mairena del Alcor – Cordoba, 172.6 km. Degenkolb Distances

We weren’t so far away with our tip for the win in Cordoba, Michael Matthews the GreenEDGE Aussie was third and held on to his race lead; but we should slap out own wrists for not mentioning Germany’s Giant, John Degenkolb – the man to watch when gravity is involved and rains on the ‘pure’ fast men's parade.

Is La Vuelta too hard?

La Vuelta; have you seen the parcours? Brutal! In my opinion, too hard; if it was Italy or Spain they'd engineer it to suit the characteristics of the 'home boy,' but in España it's one for the mountain men - maybe they forgot that Alberto wasn't riding; that we may have seen the best of Carlos; that Valverde will have a bad day and that José Manuel Fuente and Luis Ocaña have left us (God rest their souls).

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 18: Aguilar de Campo – Valladolid 204.5 km

Daniele Bennati saved his season and Radio Shack’s Vuelta with a perfectly timed sprint into Valladolid on Thursday afternoon. The perma-tanned fast man with the religious bent was just too quick for Sky’s Ben Swift who looked under-geared in the charge for the line. Sky got Swift’s lead out just right but ‘Benna’ was the smartest, freewheeling a few times in the finale to keep the heart rate down and then timing his bike through perfectly to pip Swift on the line.

The VeloVeritas Years – 2010: Barredo First to Lagos de Covadonga

VeloVeritas's soothsayer Viktor would say; 'It's just a big hill!' But if you've ever been up at the Lagos de Covadonga then you'll know there's much more to it than that. High on the bleak moor which is skirted by the parcours, back in the year 722 AD the Asturian King, Pelagius defeated the hitherto invulnerable Moors (Arabs we'd call them now) who ruled Spain at that time at the Battle of Covadonga.

At Random

And Now (No And Then) – Dude Where’s My Car?

And Now ... I love that scene from Dude Where’s My Car? So here we sit: Rest Day 2 already! And yet it feels like forever since the Tour started. Weird stuff happens to sports fans in July. The last few days of racing have been typically explosive, with Cav making it 19 TdF career stage wins (good grief the man can find the finish line) yesterday...

Tsgabu Grmay – MTN-Qhubeka’s Star of the Future

Stage Five of the Tour of Korea was a historic one - the first ever win for an Ethiopian rider at this level; youngster, Tsgabu Grmay of South Africa’s first Pro Continental team, MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung. This year has seen the man from Mekele, 2,000 metres up in the Tigrayan Highlands of Etiopia land a top ten GC placing in the Tour of Langkawi as well as second on GC in Taiwan to go with his stage win. We caught up with him upon his return to Europe to ride the Tour of Trentino.

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 21: Montereau-Fault-Yonne > Paris Champs-Élysées, 164km

Bonjour! The start starts today in Montereau-Fault-Yonne, but we're not there. Usually I start the VeloVeritas diary for Le Tour de France 2009 in the morning but then have to switch to 'other work' mode for most of the day - going back to poor old VV late in the day, as Martin and I fight off le vieux homme Morpheus.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 4; Le Touquet – Paris-Plage, 164 km. Marcel Kittel goes 3 from 4

I didn’t think Kristoff was as ultimately fast as that; I knew he’s a beast of a boy but didn’t think that a straight sprinters’ stage was tough enough for him - but he nearly proved me wrong in Lille at the end of Stage Four. The wily Paolini and strong-as-a-bear Russian Champion Alex Porsev dragged the Katusha Norwegian through the chaos and gave him a clear run – but Kittel was just too strong, again.

Back to Essex

For the first time in two months I'm back in the UK. Back to Essex. I'm back for this Sundays East Midlands Cicle Classic/Rutland Melton and with the form I've built over the last couple of months in Belgium I am going into the race with great optimism.

The Volta a Portugal 2013, Part Two & Postscript

The fact I feel tranquil now after the Volta a Portugal is the fact I’ve got an education, a business and I have lived my dreams as a cyclist. I’m looking forward and I’ll keep riding my bike. I love cycling.