Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeRaceRace ReviewsLa Vuelta a España 2014 - Stage 18; A Estrada - Monte...

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 18; A Estrada – Monte Castrove en Meis, 173.5 km. Fabio Aru with Froome Calling the Shots


Monte Castrove en Meis

Alberto defends lead in spite of heavy bombardment at Monte Castrove en Meis,’ says the Saxo-Tinkoff press release – with Chris Froome the man in charge of the howitzers.

Christopher may not be stylish but the man is a bike racer – and that has to be respected.

The tactic is simple, when the road goes up and the pace eases back a notch – attack!

It nearly netted him the win today but Aru is young, hungry, skinny and pretty quick for a mountain man.

Monte Castrove en Meis
Fabio Aru trails Chris Froome. Photo©Unipublic

But Froome did climb to second on the ‘virtual’ podium and claw back some time on Contador.

It was good to see Frenchmen Le Mevel, Coppel and Barguil all on the attack in the finale but the Giant Shimano man needs to attack less often but more intensely – and stop looking back…

De Marchi was there again, too – this race has seen him blossom; he’s with BMC for 2015, let’s hope he’s allowed his chances.

Monte Castrove en Meis
Sammy Sanchez riding well in the top ten. Photo©Unipublic

Back to ‘The Bigs’ – Froome hasn’t abandoned hope of winning this race, Valverde appears to be running out of gas, Rodriguez too and Contador is using his head all well as his legs.

But paradoxically, it’s good to see riders of the stature of Valverde and Contador having to dose their efforts knowing that they can’t just keep turning on the gas – the fridge contents are much more mundane these days.

We all hope so, anyway.

Monte Castrove en Meis
Valverde, Contador and Rodriguez on their own, teammates long gone. Photo©Unipublic

And similarly, good too to see team leaders isolated with their lieutenants cooked for the day.

The ‘Duracell battery ad.’ and ‘clockwork soldiers’ days are no more and besides, everyone asks too many questions these days.

I still look back on those US Postal days and think; ‘how could I sit and watch that and believe my eyes?’

Monte Castrove en Meis
The break of the day. Photo©Unipublic

Stage 19 is a ‘breakaway stage’ and it’s unlikely – but not impossible in this race – that the GC riders will all be happy to see the right escape go.

Their minds will be on Stage 20 with the finish atop the HC Puerto de Ancares after a saw tooth day up there in the rugged North West of Spain where you won’t hear any English spoken for days on end – this isn’t The Costas.

Froome will attack, Contador will mark him tightly and whilst Froome is obviously still strong, we;re reminded of the words of Michael Morkov when we were chatting to him during the Tour de France; ‘when guys like Nibali or Alberto have the jersey and know they can win, they don’t mess up.

They don’t panic; they know exactly how much time they can afford to lose and how to play it…

We’re inclined to agree but in Froome we have a man who’s that rare thing in pro bike racing, someone who’ll risk losing second on a Grand Tour podium to try and win.

Which can only be good for us fans.

Monte Castrove en Meis
Coppel has been in attacking mood recently. Photo©Unipublic

And closing thought for the day; Alberto Contador has spent 71 hours, 38 minutes and 37 seconds in the saddle in this race (actually more, if you factor in time bonuses) but lanterne rouge, Astana’s Italian sprinter, Andrea Guardini has been in the saddle for an additional 4 hours, 37 minutes and 17 seconds.

And those poor football players sometimes have to play three whole games in 10 days…

Hasta luego.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and 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. 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 2012 – Stage 16: Gijón – Valgrande-Pajares Negru Cuitu 183.5 km

Dario Cataldo (QuickStep & Italy) took the biggest win of his life in Valgrande-Pajares Negru; Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM & Belgium) had his heart broken; Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha & Spain) took a huge step towards winning his first Grand Tour; Chris Froome (Sky & GB) realised you really can’t race the Tour and Vuelta to win in the same season.

La Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 8; Baeza – Albacete, 207.4 km. Nacer Bouhanni Battles

On Stage Eight to Albacete, once the break got caught with around 20 miles to go it looked like standard sprinter stage fare – Giant, Lampre, F de J and GreenEDGE would control it for their sprinters, with Nacer Bouhanni prominent.

La Vuelta a España 2010

The La Vuelta a España 2010 presentation was in Sevilla this year (normally Madrid), the start town of next year's race. Some of the old stars of cycling where in attendance; Thevenet, Olano, Hinault and introducing the show Pedro Delgado. Hinault pointed out that one of his hardest day on a bike was the stage to Avila in 1983 which he won stage and overall.

La Vuelta 2010, Stage 16 – VV Selects

The Vuelta starts in a few day's time and so in this week's 'VV Selects' we look back at our last day covering the race nine years ago, when the stage began in Gijón. We conducted the now-popular 'chat at the team buses' to hear some thoughts from DS's Gert-Jan Theunisse, Dimitri Konyshev, Hendrik Redant and Rik Van Slycke, and various riders such as on-form Carlos Barredo, Greg Van Avermaet and the late Wouter Weylandt.

Life and La Vuelta ’08 – According to Fabian Jeker

Every year I write a route preview of the up and coming Vuelta a España, normally I talk to the locals in my village and last year I had the input of Alex Coutts (Babes Only-Flanders) and David Harrigan (DFL). This year I managed to enlist the help of ex-pro, Fabian Jeker, and we spoke about next year's Vuelta - but as these things often go, we spoke at length on many other topics: life; cycling; Festina; and the future.

La Vuelta a España 2012 – Stage 15: La Robla – Lagos de Covadonga 186.5 km

We’ve all had them, those days when the pedals just turn and the sensations are good – Antonio Piedra (Caja Rural & Spain) had one, today in the stage from La Robla.

At Random

Ian Field Blog: My World Cup Campaign Kicks Off

Ian Field Blog. Hey, my lack of blogs and reports are due to me being a busy bike rider over the past few days! I'll start at the beginning...

Living in the Heart of Flanders!

The things that can happen in the space of a week when you're living in the heart of Flanders. As mentioned in the last blog post I happened to meet Kurt Asle Arvesen on a ride and had a nice spin and chat with him. A couple of days later I was in the Asfra bike shop when fellow Norwegian and Team Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen walked in on his way out training.

Tour of Britain – Day 5: Stage 5, Rochester to Canterbury, Michael Mørkøv, the red f-r

"What are you doing, you red fu**er?" The words of world champion, Tom Boonen (Belgium & Quick Step) to Danish rider, Michael Mørkøv when the youngster attacked, on team orders, in contravention of a Boonen-imposed ban on racing in yesterday's stage of the Tour of Britain. As well as following Evan's progress around Britain, I've been talking to Michael Mørkøv. Before we hear what Evan has to say I thought you should hear Michael's story from yesterday.

Solid Kick-off

Solid Kick-off. Finally we’re underway! And what a start it’s been. Time trial days are always long periods of surprising quietness (and the quiet is always a surprise) punctuated by flurries of furious activity. As team mechanic-cum-philosopher Kris Withington (NZ’s finest mechanic) says, “it’s either full gas work or full gas wait.”

Andre Greipel at the TDU – Same As It Ever Was

And so they're off! Once again Andre Greipel has won a stage at the TDU, once again there is a bit of controversy about sprinters not holding their line, and once again the accused sprinter has taken the classic "What! Me?" stance. The season is underway.

World Road Championships – Mads Pederson surprises to win the Elite Mens’ Road Race

Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished. He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy - the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.