Today’s Stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana went 148.9 km (92.5 m) from Valladolid to Salamanca. It was a day for the sprinters.
It was a flat day but windy. A few escapees including former red jersey and stage winner Philippe Gilbert were reined in during the final kilometers. Mark Cavendish was well paced and won easily. Because of the mass sprint the peloton became fractured and Rodriguez lost a few seconds off his 5th overall position. Dish gave a shout out to teammate Peter Velits and current 3rd place overall saying even though he’s third he still worked for the team and Cav’s win.
Thoughts from some top 10 contenders:
At second place only 38 seconds behind leader Vincenzo Nibali, Ezequiel Mosquera is focused on taking the whole race. He tells VeloNews: “Now I have a chance to win the overall. I have to keep calm and just race my bike. I will give everything on [Saturday’s] Bola del Mundo. I will attack to try to win. I have nothing to lose and don’t want to let this opportunity pass me by.”
Team Saxo Bank says not to count on Peter Velits retaining the third overall position. Sports director Dan Frost said that Velits “has previously shown his limits on climbs. Now, Fränk obviously has to take a chance and attack on Saturday’s uphill finish to reach the podium.” Frost also said that Friday might give a breakaway opportunity. Neither Frank or Andy’s Twitter accounts have been updated lately and Fabian Cancellara deleted all his Vuelta tweets.
Eighth place Nicolas Roche writes his own account of his time at Vuelta for the Irish Independent. Upset at himself over yesterday’s time trial where he dropped from 5th to 8th overall, he says not to count him out yet. “I’m only 19 seconds off fourth place… but the problem is now I have to worry about four more guys, as I also have Carlos Sastre breathing down my neck.”
– The last decisive stage for the overall category will be Saturday’s mountainous climbs and finish up the steep uncategorized Bola del Mundo. The last stage on Sunday is largely ceremonial for the overall winner, sprinters do make a go for it to make up points.
Friday’s Stage 19 will be the longest stage with riders covering 231.2 km (143.7 m) from Piedrahita to Toledo. It starts on a steep uphill up a Category 2 climb and then the rest of the way is hilly but another sprinters’ stage.
Stage 19 predictions:
– Despite what Team Saxo Bank directeur sportif said earlier, most of the GC guys can’t afford to do any drastic breakaways because 1) it probably won’t work and they’ll be reeled in and 2) they need to keep their energy for Saturday’s mountains.
1) CAVENDISH, Mark – HTC-Columbia: 3:27:11
2) HAEDO, Juan Jose – Team Saxo Bank
3) CARDOSO, Manuel A. Leal – Footon-Servetto
4) FARRAR, Tyler – Garmin-Transitions
5) DUMOULIN, Samuel – Cofidis
1) NIBALI, Vincenzo – Liquigas: 74:47:06
2) MOSQUERA, Ezequiel – Xacobeo Galicia: + 38″
3) VELITS, Peter – HTC-Columbia: +1’59”
4) SCHLECK, Frank – Team Saxo Bank: + 3’43”
5) RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin – Katusha: + 3’48”