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Old 09-02-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
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Cycling - La Vuelta a España

Anyone watching? *spoiler alert*

La Vuelta just got real.

On the 22% slopes of Alto Hazallanas, 41-year-old Chris Horner gets the kids off his lawn for his second stage win and second turn in the red leader's jersey.

Horner made a powerful solo attack at about 4k to go to win by 48 seconds. Tour of Italy winner and race favorite Vicenzo Nibali second on stage and on GC at 52s. Rodriguez, Valverde, Basso and Pinot within 1m12s.

The heavy hitters seem to think Horner is not a serious long-term threat on GC. Horner attacked at the perfect time, but he was strong enough to open the gap and hold it--even Nibali's late solo counter could not close it. Lots of mountain stages and a hilly TT on Wed don't hurt Horner's chances--he won the Tour of the Basque with a (more) hilly TT a few years ago.

Venga Horner!
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:33 AM   #2
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Let's hear it for Nicholas Roche!

What a well-timed run just past the kite for the win a few stages ago, and he managed to hang on to Horner and Nibali enough to keep 3rd place over all.

Do us proud Nico!



I don't mind seeing the Sicilian Nibali up there either, crawling out of the shadow of that Vini Fantini dung heap.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:01 PM   #3
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Be interesting to see the time trial tomorrow.

Horner won't be easy to shake, Nibali looks ready to go, Roche still hanging in there.



The last 12 or so minutes of this stage is worth watching if you enjoy mountain climbing and Sean Kelly.


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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
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"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-04-2013, 05:15 AM   #4
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One-week stage races are Horner's thing. Three-week grand tours are Nibali's. Should be an excellent second half with plenty of serious contenders!
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:41 AM   #5
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I don't want to spoil anything but today shook out a lot like I'd thought.

Lots of racing yet...


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"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:59 PM   #6
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Yeah only slightly surprised at the outcome. Nibs has worked on the TT, and it paid off on the uphill. Downhill, he's hella fast already. But I thought Horner would go faster uphill. Good thing for him he had that lead going into the TT.

Now four guys within a minute of the GC leader. Think Rodriguez can get back 2m33s on Nibali? He's the only one outside the top four that I think could make up that kind of time.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:17 PM   #7
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I'm still holding out for Nico.


hope. eternal.


I'm not counting Horner out yet. We'll see.

Still up for grabs but, like you, I thought I'd see a better time from Horner. Hopefully he's not blown for tomorrow.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:29 AM   #8
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SPOILER ALERT

Read no further if you want to read the details elsewhere or if you have it recorded and haven't viewed it.





















Only one climb today, and not a very steep one although it is long-ish.

There won't be any big moves, I'll bet. Too many good riders too close in the GC that they'll be marked closely. There's a three man break now at 4:46 but no one to be concerned over an hour + back for each of them.

Plus, there are two stages in this region with 3 local riders, including Flecha, so you can assume one of them will head off on a break or be allowed to go up the road when they ride near their town. Nothing serious.

At the end of the week there are more challenging mountiains, and that's when things will get interesting. I only hope Horner and Nico Roche can keep healthy and recover a bit. Roche is 33 seconds behind Nibali. Valverde and Horner at 46. All within striking distance should things work out.


The break was swallowed up easily, Garmin on the front, then Lotto-Belisol, and at the end the field charged into the final few hundred metres where Boasson-Hagen found himself with a good sized gap on Gilbert. But Gilbert had great speed this day, flying across and through for the win-- his first victory in World Champion stripes.

There was no change in the GC with 50 riders given the same time.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.

Schlug screwed with this post 09-05-2013 at 09:04 AM
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Old 09-05-2013, 08:24 PM   #9
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Gilbert earned that one.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
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"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-06-2013, 08:52 AM   #10
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More Spoilers for stage 13: Even thought it seems I'm typing to myself. I'll do the legwork for those who can't find coverage.











This is where you bog off if you have it recorded.




Today is another mostly flat stage. Tomorrow they head into 3 days in the mountains where the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Todays easy stage sees a very big break off the front, some 18 riders, but the biggest challenge to the GC is Scarponi, who is something like 10 minutes back. If you recall he was the default winner of the Giro in 20011 when Contador was caught doping.

The 18 man break essentially rolled on, with different teams taking turns at front, including Cannondale and Astana. But with about 20 km to go and the break at 2:00 minutes plus, disorganization ruled the peloton with Astana stepping off and only a couple half-hearted attempts by other teams. It seems the break will succeed today.

As the riders in the breakaway realize they are going to stay clear, several small attacks happen, including a 3 man attempt which the main break mercilessly allow to dangle 15 seconds off the front for a few miles, then swallow them up. That'll teach 'em!

Between the attacks and the increased pace, the main break is now down to nine men. Just before the finish is a small climb, but also in the ranks is Nocentini, the only notable sprinter. Indeed there is an attack on that final little rise, Barguil, a 23 year old promising lad, takes off. The others are confused for a moment, no one wants to go after Barguil and drag Nocentini up the climb just so he can win the sprint, and in a brilliant move by the young rider, the others in the break do not react for fear of giving it all to Nocenti. Barguil wins the day. And as feared, Nocentini wins the sprint for second.

The main group including Horner, Nibali, and Nico Roche all finish 2:40 back. Overall classification remains:
Nibali
Roche at :31
Valverde and Honer at :46

Tomorrow the Pyrenees come into play. We know Nibali is an excellent climber, we know Horner is an excellent climber, and Roche can climb well if inspired.



On a side note, if you remember 3 time Tour de France stage winner Sandy Casar then you'll be interested to know he's announced his retirement at the age of 34.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:41 AM   #11
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*MORE SPOILERS*

you oughta know by now.








What a great stage!

It was filled with tough climbs (the tallest of the Vuelta today) wicked descents, crashes, and ice cold rain. At elevation it made for very cold temps and several riders retiring today from those crashes in the rain and near hypothermia.

Ivan Basso, leader of the Cannondale team, gone. Louis Leon Sanchez, gone. Several other less notables retired as well.

At the peak there were about 25 riders in the main Peloton. There was a break early on, gaining a massive 13 minute advantage. Roche, Horner, and Nibali all in the main pack trying to hide from the weather. Rain capes and arm/leg warmers throughout.

At the end of the stage one man from the breakaway stayed clear, all others swallowed up. That man was Cannondale's Daniel Ratto. He went on to win the stage, solo, riding away from all his fellow riders in the break.

Toward the end Nibali, Roche, Horner, Valverde all picked up the pace, ready for war on the final climb. Valverde fell into trouble early on, losing touch with the main group. Surprisingly, though, he managed to latch back on towards the very end. Just goes to show how one minute you can be swallowed up by pain and watch your rivals ride away, just to keep calm, find your gear, and ride yourself back in.

Just before the finish Roche blows up in an explosion that could be heard thundering through the mountains and loses contact for good. Horner wicks it up a bit and takes Nibali with him. He won't shake the Sicilian that easlly. And Valverde is hanging behind, trying to minimize losses.

And in second spot Nibali comes clean, taking the time bonuses finishing just under 4 minutes behind Daniel Ratto. Horner come in just two seconds off the wheel of Nibali, taking 3rd and moving up in the GC. Valverde come in at 4:43. Sadly, my man Roche finishes 7:22 down on the day, falling heavily in the GC and has seemingly lost all hope of a victory in this year's Vuelta.

Nibali beat Horner by two seconds plus the time bonus. Putting Horner 50 seconds back in second place. Still withing striking distance if you can put his legs to work on tomorrow's mountain stage. Valverde showed great pluck today getting back in touch and finishing 1:42 back in the GC. Nico Roche has fallen to 6th overall, 4:02 back.

It should be noted that Spanish rider Joaquim Oliver is from this region, and these are his home roads. If it weren't for the weather one wonders if he couldn't have done better. He's now in 4th just under 3 minutes back. Should he make a go of it tomorrow and force Nibali's Astana team to the front, if could make for an interesting day.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.

Schlug screwed with this post 09-07-2013 at 10:50 AM
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:49 AM   #12
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__________________
"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:52 AM   #13
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That was a great stage. Too bad about the lack of coverage due to weather, but the weather made the stage. Great fight back by Valverde on the last climb to finish just 45s back and stay in the GC. Too bad he lost time on the last descent, because he looked like he was flying up the final climb.

Alas, adios Nico! Two strong weeks, though. I'm rooting for Horner, but Nibali looks unshakeable right now. Plenty of climbing left!
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:10 AM   #14
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I hope Horner puts it to Nibali as well. But I like the Sicilian as well, I'll celebrate his victory as well, just not quite as much as I would the old man.

Italian cycling could use a good show since the Giro mess. If Nibali comes up dirty I think they may just suspend pro cycling in Italy for a year.

I was really hoping Horner could ride him off, but he just didn't have the minerals today.
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.
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Old 09-08-2013, 09:13 AM   #15
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MORE SPOILERS



The race was essentially uneventful today. Lots of attacks and even more riders abandoning after yesterday's awful weather.

Finally there was a break that stuck, with Alexandre Geniez staying away for a large part of the race with Scarponi. The Frenchy Geniez wanting to win on French soil. There weren't much of a reaction from the other teams as there was no one in GC contention in the breaks. Finally, towards the end, Nico Roche took off in an attempt to pull back some time on the leaders. He did end up taking 3rd, behind Scarponi (also in the break all day) and taking back 14 seconds.

But Nibali took 4th in the sprint and Horner, Valverde all finished same time and the only change to the GC is Roche moving up to 6th, still 3 minutes and change back.


Tomorrow is a moderate stage for the Pyrenees, with the only real challenge coming at the end of the road towards the finish. It's a serious climb to the line, and we'll see if the normal protocol is followed: GC contenders sitting in surrounded by their troops (or what's left of them), not bothering with any attacks all day, and then spooling up for the final mountain climb to the finish. Horner needs some sort of strategy to insure this does not happen.

Sometimes I wish race radio ear pieces were disallowed. I think the racing would be a lot better if they breaks went and no one was sure who or how many until they were up the road. They could still have an earpiece per team for the commies to relay safety concerns.

Horner still capable of the upset, only 40 seconds back of Nibali. He cannot have too many races left in those legs, let's hope he finds it tomorrow!
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"So what makes this protest different is that you're set to die, Bobby?"
--May well come to that.
"You start a hunger strike to protest for what you believe in. You don't start already determined to die or am I missing somethin' here?"
-- It's in their hands. Our message is clear. They're seeing our determination.

Schlug screwed with this post 09-08-2013 at 09:19 AM
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